People often ask me, “What goals do you think I should set?”
I think most of these people are asking what their specific goals should be, such as “should I be investing in a Roth IRA” or “Should I be taking an online course to improve on a key skill,” but those are complicated questions to answer without going deep with each person.
Instead, I want to talk about the different TYPES of goals that you can set and apply to any specific goal you want to tackle.
There are countless types of goals out there, from S.M.A.R.T. goals to Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) to 25 Year Visions, but I want to tell you about the four types of goals that forever changed my life and sent me down a path of success and achievement.
That may seem lofty, but they worked for me, and I’m confident that they can work for you.
Intrigued? Well my friend, keep reading!
1. Long Terms Goals, Specifically Annual Goals
Annual goals were once a crazy idea to me. I’d think to myself, “How on Earth could I ever plan my goals a year in advance? I just want to get through this semester of college.”
But, as I’ve grown a little older, and maybe a little wiser, I’ve started to realize my what Grandparents always said is true: “The older you get, the faster time flies.”
I’m sure many of you are asking the same question: “How can I plan my goals a year in advance?”
Honestly, it’s not all that difficult, but it can take some time and deep thought. Carve out some time to think back over your life and jot down the answers to these questions:
- What are some of your most significant accomplishments so far?
- Of your accomplishments, which ones made you most excited?
- Could you expand on those accomplishments and take them further? Could you build on them? If so, how?
These questions should help you identify what gets you excited in life, but if you struggle with those, ask yourself this one instead: “What does my life look like in 3-5 years?”
Aside from the obvious answers such as “make more money,” what does life look like in five years? Where do you work? Who do you surround yourself with most? Have you started a family? Where do you live? Are you happy?
These types of questions should lead you to a vision for your life. From there, you can break your vision down into more manageable, annual goals.
In five years I would like to have built an ever-growing community around Daily New Year’s. The knowledge that I’ve gained and the people that I’ve helped has led to a full-length goal-setting book that is selling well. I still work full time at Element 74 as the CEO and love what I do, but I often enjoy the freedom to travel around the world promoting my book and the DNY message at various events and speaking engagements.
Sounds pretty ambitious, right?
Attainable or not, that is my vision for my life five years from now. To get there, I can break it down into a 5-year plan that includes things like starting the blog, YouTube Channel, and Podcast; promoting those channels on social media; grow my audience and email list; improving my public speaking skills; expand my network; outline the book; and so on.
Of the four types of goals, annual goals may seem daunting, maybe even a little scary, but it shouldn’t be. Have fun with it and dream big! If you dream so big that you can’t fit it into five years, make it ten. The important thing is that you break it down into annual goals, starting with one for the next year.
Not the next calendar year! Oh no! I’m talking one year from today. Please don’t hesitate, procrastinate, or put this off until January 1st. That’s not how we roll at Daily New Year’s. If you’re new to DNY, check out our About page and you’ll see that we’re all about starting new things and setting new goals any day of the year.
2. Quarterly Goals and Action Goals
Okay, so this is a two-for-one, but you’ll see why in just a second.
Armed with your new annual goal(s), the next type of goal on the list is the quarterly goal. Quarterly goals are specifically designed to move you closer to your annual goal, and you can have more than one, but it’s best to focus on no more than two or three.
Looking at your annual goals, try to break them down into 90-day segments. For example, when I started this blog, I devoted an entire quarter to picking a theme, building the site, writing the initial pages and posts, setting up my social media accounts, and so on.
The following quarter my goal was to produce a new post every week. Then, my Q4 goal was to start a podcast, which you can enjoy here.
I packed each quarter with a healthy but challenging set of goals, but to achieve success, I had to distill each goal into a list of action goals.
Related Podcast: ep. 015 – The Domino Effect: The Ultimate Way to Achieve Your Goals
Once you have your Quarterly goals in place, make a chronological list of every action you need to make to complete your goal. Your list could be five steps, or a hundred, depending on your goal. These are your action goals, and they are the roadmap for crushing your quarterly goals.
3. Achievement Goals
Achievement Goals are primarily for one-time achievements, such as launching a blog, paying off a student loan, or saving money for a debt-freevacation, and they may be attainable in a single quarter, or they could take two years.
Achievement goals tend to be very Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Risky, and Time-keyed. You may recognize that as the S.M.A.R.T. goal framework. A good Achievement goal might look like this: “lose 60 pounds by [insert date here] by working out three days a week and following the Weight Watchers plan.”
The goal is specific (60 pounds), measurable (you can track how much you’re losing), action-oriented (lose weight through diet and exercise), Risky (it’s not an easy 5 pounds, it will be challenging), and it’s time-keyed (you have an end date).
A lousy Achievement Goal would be: “to lose weight.” How much weight? What action are you taking? When will you do this?
Finally, Achievement Goals always work best (in my opinion) when you have an awesome award waiting at the end. Make it so good that you can’t wait to achieve your goal!
4. Habit Goals
Habit goals allow us to break down a larger goal into daily or weekly habits. I wanted to release one new blog post per week, so I formed a habit of writing every Monday night after work. I also wanted to make sure I made room for exercise in my schedule, so I developed a habit of waking up at 4:45 a.m. every weekday.
Habit Goals are a way of taking a larger goal and breaking it into more manageable, sustainable pieces. If you want to run a marathon, you wouldn’t sign up and run it the next day; you would begin running daily and build towards your success. That’s a habit!
Related: Success is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Unlike Achievement Goals, Habit Goals don’t have to be measurable or specific. In fact, they’re often neither. I picked up the concept of Habit Goals from Michael Hyatt, and he uses the example of “Growing closer to God,”which is a little vague. That goal is not measurable, but you could set a habit of reading your bible for 20 minutes each day and work towards that goal.
You could also use Habit Goals to learn a new language by studying for 30 minutes per day or to write a novel by writing 500 words per day. The options are endless, and the technique is powerful. Best of all, you’re building good habits.
Start with Why
As a final note, it’s important to connect with your ‘why’ before setting any goal. A strong why will help provide clarity and motivation as you work to achieve your goal.
A strong why is the reason you want to achieve a goal, and without one, you’re much more likely to become disinterested and discouraged which usually results in giving up or quitting.
Related: The Power of Finding Your Why
Which of These Four Types of Goals Will You Try?
I’ve covered quite a bit in this post, but if you take a small step back, you’ll see that these four types of goals work very well together.
You can set your long-term, annual goals and then break those down into quarterly goals. From there, you can set a few achievement goals that you can track, measure, and achieve by establishing some helpful habit goals.
Are you ready to set some big goals? I hope so! Drop a comment below and let us know what goal you’re going to crush in the next 365 days.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.