Did you know you don’t have to wait until a new year starts to set goals for yourself? No, really. And here’s the thing: If something really matters to you and you’re ready to make a change right now, you shouldn’t wait until the calendar says January 1. You should start today!
So, if you’re ready to start setting goals that actually work—whether it’s the end of the year or the middle of July—you need to think about seven specific types of goals. You also need to think about some key qualities your goals should have.
Let’s break it all down (and look at some goal examples).
What Are Goals?
If you look up “goal” in the dictionary, you’ll get something along the lines of “a result or achievement that calls for some effort on your part.” And yes, that technically is the definition of a goal.
But for a goal to actually have legs—for it to work—it needs to be more than simply a “result” or an “achievement.”
Seriously, if you want to set rock-solid goals that you’ve got a real shot of hitting—not some dopey New Year’s resolution that’ll get broken by Valentine’s Day—you’ll have to dig a little bit deeper.
That’s because goals that work must be:
- Specific. If you set a goal to lose weight, you won’t do it. If your goal is to read more, you won’t, in fact, read more. You’ve got to be specific. How about losing 35 pounds or reading one book per month as a goal?
- Measurable. This one’s similar to being specific. If you set a vague goal that can’t be measured (like eating out less), it’ll be hard to know whether you’re on the right track. By making goals measurable, you’ll know whether you’ve accomplished them.
- Under a time limit. You’ll never have any motivation to work toward your goals if they don’t have a time limit. You also probably don’t want to spend three years trying to drop a dress size or finally starting that podcast. Set a time limit and get the clock ticking. It’s a powerful thing.
- Yours. If your only motivation for going on a diet is “my husband/wife wants me to,” you won’t stick to it. The same goes for every type of goal—it’s got to be yours, not someone else’s. You’ve got to have a powerful why that’s rooted in your heart and soul.
- In writing. There’s something really powerful about getting out a pen or pencil and writing your goals down. As the Bible says in Habakkuk 2:2 (NKJV), “Write the vision and make it plain.”
The Goal-Setting Process
Before we go over the types of goals you need to set, we need to talk about the goal-setting process itself. There are a few important steps.
Think Short Term and Long Term
Building wealth to become a millionaire is an awesome goal to have, but that will take decades for most folks. If long-term goals like that are your only focus, it’ll be hard to stay motivated and remain hopeful.
Along the same lines, growing in your career and earning a raise within the next year is a great goal to set, but setting only short-term goals like that will keep you from dreaming big and casting a wide vision for an awesome future five to 10 years down the road.
That’s why it’s important to think about short-term and long-term goals during the goal-setting process. You want to give yourself small milestones you can achieve and feel good about, but you also need to dream.
Identify the Steps to Get There
In addition to the four qualities we talked about earlier, the goals you set need to be achievable. That means you might need to scrap your goals to scuba dive on the moon and play catch with Babe Ruth.
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A good way to make sure your goals are achievable is to identify the steps it’ll take to get there. Sit down, grab a pen, and write out a plan that will take you from point A to point B. Ask yourself what it’s going to take to reach your goals.
Is your goal to lose weight? If so, you’ll need to figure out a diet and exercise plan on the front end to be successful. Do you want to become president of the United States? Hey, that’s a goal 46 people have reached. But you’ll need a plan: How will you get into public office, create a personal brand, and rise through the political ranks?
When you lay your goals out like that, it turns something big into multiple bite-size steps. And you need that, because there’s only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.
Write Down Your Goals
Yes, we already talked about this one, but it’s that important. Write. Down. Your. Goals.
If you’re looking for the best place to do that, our 2023 Ramsey Goal Planner is a great option. It’s portable, includes pages to take notes on, has monthly calendar views, and gives you space to set, write and track your goals. Plus, you’ll get plenty of encouragement from Rachel Cruze, Dr. John Delony and George Kamel along the way.
You can order yours today!
Areas in Life to Set Goals
All right, now that you know how to set goals, it’s time to think about the seven types of goals you need to set.
1. Spiritual Goals
Spiritual goals keep you focused on God and what’s really important, and they can seriously help with stress and anxiety. Honestly, this is the most important goal-setting category because it sets the tone for all the others.
When you think about setting a spiritual goal, you may want to commit to:
- Making prayer a daily part of your life
- Waking up 30 minutes earlier and using that time to read and study a chapter or two from the Bible
- Showing up at your church every time the doors are open, not just when you “feel like it”
- Offering to serve at your church by teaching a Bible class or helping with the children’s ministry
2. Financial Goals
You knew you weren’t going to read a Ramsey article without hearing about financial goals!
So much of what you can do in life is decided by your money situation, and dreaming is hard to do when you’re broke. After all, how in the world are you supposed to think about retirement, investing or generosity if you’re up to your ears in payments and never have any money left over at the end of the month?
Your life doesn’t have to be that way though. Setting just a few simple financial goals can go a long way. You could set a goal to:
- Get on a written budget and start telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went (and the best way to do this is by downloading the EveryDollar app)
- Get out of debt (don’t forget to give yourself a time limit)
- Save up an emergency fund with 3 to 6 months’ worth of your expenses
- Read The Total Money Makeover and commit to following the 7 Baby Steps
- Begin investing 15% of your income for retirement (if you’re out of debt and have a full emergency fund)
3. Career Goals
Up next, work goals. If you’re stuck in a job you hate, it’s time to spread your wings and fly away. The same goes if you’re dealing with a hostile work environment and difficult or lazy coworkers. Life is too short and your talents are too valuable for you to spend 40 hours a week wasting away in a soul-sucking, dead-end job.
Set a goal to get out of there and find a job that lets you use your God-given talents to do work you’re passionate about and accomplish results that matter deeply to you. You may also want to set a goal to:
- Complete an affordable training program to beef up your resumé and increase your odds of finding a new gig
- Get clear on your talents, passions and mission by taking Ken Coleman’s Get Clear Career Assessment
- Read The Proximity Principle and commit to developing relationships with people and spending time at places that can help you do work you love
Career goals aren’t limited to job changes though. You may be in a job you love with healthy leadership and growth potential. If that’s where you find yourself, you’ve hit the jackpot and you should stick around! There are other goals you can set and achieve without handing in a resignation letter. You could set a goal to:
- Connect with your leader and create a growth plan that lets you carry more responsibilities and make more money
- Become a better resource for your teammates by asking them how you can make their lives easier
- Get promoted
4. Intellectual Goals
Here’s a crazy idea: You don’t have to stop learning just because you aren’t in school anymore. Wacky, huh?
But seriously, everybody of every age, level of education, income and job status must commit to constant learning and growth
That’s not just some theory we came up with either—it’s biblical. Proverbs 1:5 (NKJV) says, “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.”
And here’s the thing: Coasting on what you already know isn’t even an option, because you’re either growing or you’re dying. There’s no in-between.
So decide, today, to prioritize your personal growth by setting some intellectual goals. Those could look like:
- Building your knowledge by taking a class on something you’re interested in at a local community college (debt-free, of course)
- Reading a nonfiction book every month
- Spending less time in front of the TV and using that time to develop your leadership skills by listening to The EntreLeadership Podcast
5. Fitness Goals
For some reason, we only think of losing weight and going on a diet when it comes to fitness goals. Those are all well and good, but there are other ways to be intentional about keeping your body in good shape.
One of those ways is getting enough sleep, which plays a huge role in our physical health. When you get a good night’s sleep, it’s like hitting a giant reset button for your physical, mental and emotional needs.
Here’s the deal: The health of your body has a direct impact on your mental health. So if you aren’t eating, exercising or sleeping the way you should be, it will take a toll beyond what you feel physically.
You’ve got to prioritize your physical health, because when you do that, you’re prioritizing your mental health at the same time. That means you should set goals to:
- Get seven to nine hours of sleep—every single night
- Move your body every day, whether that means hiking up a mountain or walking around your neighborhood for half an hour
- Eat less food from packages and more fresh food
6. Family Goals
Yep, that’s right. Family is so important that it’s an entire goal category. We realize it may feel weird to set goals that have to do with your family, but you have to put intentionality into those relationships for them to be healthy and positive—whether it’s your spouse, parents, siblings or children.
Here are some more examples of family goals you could set:
- Keeping your relationship with your parents going strong by calling them once a week to catch up
- Attending a Financial Peace University class with your spouse so you can get on the same page about how you handle money
- Staying involved in your siblings’ lives by setting a coffee date with them once a month—or if they live far away, getting on a phone call or video chat
- Spending one-on-one time with each of your kids every month to pour into them and make sure they see how much you love them
7. Social Goals
The culture we live in wants you to think you can put your head down and plow through life on your own without needing anyone else to help or encourage you along the way. Well, that’s just dumb (and wrong). You must have people in your life. You must have connection. You must build quality relationships.
So, what’s the moral of the story? Set some social goals! Get connected! Don’t just get on social media and shoot off some friend requests either. Find real breathing humans you can connect with. In. Person. You need people in your life who you can share your biggest accomplishments and darkest moments with.
Finding and developing relationships with people like that isn’t easy, and it won’t happen tomorrow. But you’ve got to start. You’ve got to make the effort. You’ve got to set the goals. This could look like:
- Reading Own Your Past, Change Your Future to learn what it takes to create actual amazing relationships
- Getting involved in a good church community
- Inviting a coworker or friend over for dinner to develop that connection
- Committing to saying yes when you’re invited to spend time with people
Start Setting Goals Today
Setting goals in this many areas may seem overwhelming, but you can do it! You have the power to make significant change in your life, and even though that change won’t happen overnight, you can start today.
So, grab a pen, write down some goals, and get to work. You’ll amaze yourself with how much you can accomplish. And don’t forget about our Ramsey Goal Planner!
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