As a kid I played soccer in high school. I will admit I wasn’t very good at it, but I did have fun. I played defense in the back and the only thing I could really remember about this job was the phrase “When in doubt, kick it out.” I remember the concentration needed to watch and communicate with other players to execute an effective play and score a goal. When a goal was made, it felt awesome because all that hard work and focus payed off. I have only really played soccer a couple of times since then but the excitement of making and meeting a goal still lives on. At this point in my life I am setting goals in all different arenas. Each goal set and met gives me extra added purpose and fulfilment in life, even the little ones.
It is likely familiar to most to have heard that it is important to set goals, but why? If we think of setting goals as another “to do” we might get discouraged and continue to live our lives going on aimlessly. So, in this aspect setting goals helps to give us direction. If we have a set goal, we know the direction in which we are heading. With this direction, goals can also provide purpose and with purpose can come meaning. When we have meaning, life can become more fulfilling. See how this wonderful chain reaction can occur with setting a goal?
I have recently set a goal to do some work to a wall in my home. I set this goal by drawing a picture of what I want the wall to look like in the future, roughly. I placed the drawing on the wall so I can see it every time I look at this wall that I desire to change. Looking at this picture often reminds me of this desire for change and helps me to focus on the steps that I need to take in order to meet this goal.
Sometimes when we set goals, we have little goals or objectives that we need to meet in order to reach the larger goal. The objectives with my goal include things like figuring the cost of making these changes, what materials I will need, tools needed, measurements, how long it will take, etc. You see, things get very specific when I was compelled to break down the objectives needed in order to meet my goal. When I meet each one of these objectives, I feel I have accomplished something, and this continues to feed my desire to meet my goal pushing me forward.
It is important to be realistic in setting goals. If I set the goal to have my wall completed in a day, I might get disappointed when I don’t meet that expectation and I could count myself a failure or engage in some other form of useless destructive thinking. Things I may have to consider include the amount of time it will realistically take, how much money I need to save, and what my capacity is regarding skills and ability to complete this project. This same rule can be helpful for anyone setting goals.
There have been studies that show the positive impact of setting goals and placing them where you can see them on a regular basis. Doing this can help us to be more focused, more likely to succeed with the goal, and with being successful in other areas in life. As mentioned before, setting goals can help a person to feel accomplished, build meaning and purpose in life, and help us to live life to its fullest.
Daniel Park with Health West Inc. is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), native to Idaho, and has worked in mental health for over 10 years. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Boise State University.