The Benefits of Setting Goals

5 Reasons for Why Setting Goals Is an Inspiring Way to Start the Year.

Do you scoff at the thought of making New Year’s resolutions or do you embrace the idea of setting expectations for yourself for the year to come? Whether we call them resolutions or goals, I absolutely fall into the latter category. I am a firm believer in the benefits of setting goals, and I want to share with you my top 5 reasons for why setting them is an inspiring way to start the year or for hitting reset at any time when it comes to your health and overall wellbeing. 

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What are Goals?

Before we get into the benefits of setting goals, it’s important to understand what they are in the first place. While there are many useful definitions and systems out there that go into this more in-depth, the way that I look at goals is that they are specific and measurable milestones that help you to work toward your overall vision for your life. In other words, goals are statements of what you want to achieve. 

The Benefits of Setting Goals

While recognizing that everyone’s definition of achievement is different, here are my top 5 reasons for why setting goals is useful. 

1. Setting goals helps you to identify what it is that you want and what is important to you

Acclaimed author, speaker and businessman Stephen Covey offers sage advice on this with the second habit in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Affiliate link). He suggests that we “Begin with the end in mind.” If done intentionally and thoughtfully, identifying your goals helps you to become crystal clear on what it is that you want. This is true for what I call your big Want, as in your overall vision for your life, as well as for your little wants or aspirations that will help you get there. I truly believe that you can’t get to where you want to go AND enjoy the journey along the way if you don’t have at least some idea of what your destination is.

2. Setting goals helps you to accomplish the things that you want to achieve

We can all come up with grand ideas of what we want to achieve. Unless you happen to be very lucky, the only way to turn those ideas into reality is by setting realistic goals and then following through on the steps needed to achieve them. 

3. Setting goals helps to keep you focused

One of the primary benefits of setting goals is that it helps to keep you on track and focused. It helps you to prioritize your time and energy. As Stephen Covey says, to begin with the end in mind “means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”  While we certainly don’t have to be “on task” every minute of every day, goals help us to make sure that we’re spending our time in a way that reflects what is important to us.  

4. Setting goals helps to give you purpose

We can all recognize that individual actions or tasks can sometimes seem mundane or meaningless. If you know though that they’re working toward a larger goal, it gives them meaning and helps you to feel an overall sense of purpose. If I would rather sleep 30 more minutes than get up and exercise, it may be hard to get motivated and do what I know is good for my body if I don’t have a goal in mind. On the other hand, having a goal of strengthening my body and increasing my endurance so that I can take part in and enjoy an upcoming hiking trip with my family is something that will have me out of bed and exercising with very few thoughts of protest. 

5. Achieving goals gives you a sense of satisfaction

As I mentioned before, a goal is a measurable milestone. According to Merriam-Webster, a milestone is a significant point in development. That means that it has never happened before, at least not in the same way. Since a goal is something that you’ve never accomplished before, then actually following through and doing it, will give you a tremendous sense of satisfaction. I remember the feeling that I had when I crossed the finish line after running my marathon. The only thing that has ever come close was giving birth. It was a feeling of “I have just done something that was so much bigger than anything that I thought I would ever do.” Now that’s a sense of satisfaction. 

Recommended Resources

As you think more about the possible benefits of setting goals and how to achieve them, I highly recommend the following resources.  

  • 9 Types of Goals to get Your Life Moving in the Right Direction is a great article written by Leon Ho, the founder and CEO of Lifehack. It explains the different types of goals as well as how to put them in perspective using the S.M.A.R.T. Framework. 
  • The Lifebook Online Program created by entrepreneurs Jon and Missy Butcher and offered through Mindvalley is a FREE program that walks you through the process of identifying your vision and goals in what they’ve identified as the primary 12 categories of life. The 6-week program requires 3-6 hours a week and costs $500 at the outset to ensure that you finish it. Once you’ve completed it, you can get 100 percent of your money back with no questions asked, but you will lose access to the program. If you want to retain access to all of the online resources, then you let them keep your payment. It’s important to note that I am not an affiliate of the program. After having taken it and having gotten my full payment back with no problem, I was simply so impressed by their entire process that I wanted to recommend it to you. 

Bottom Line on the Benefits of Setting Goals

The bottom line on the benefits of setting goals is that while having dreams and more concretely, a vision for your life are good, the catch is that in order to achieve them, you have to have goals. If you don’t like the idea of setting resolutions, then simply think about your goals for the year. Coming up with these gives you a set amount of time to get 1-3 milestones met that will work toward creating the life that you want. 

Lean on Your Community

Do you usually set resolutions or goals at the beginning of each year? Let us know in the comments either way about why you do or don’t. 

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