I am all about goal setting. At home, at work – I firmly believe that there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel in order for us to get through the darkness. There has to be some foreseeable end result to reward us for all of the hard work we’ve put in. Without a goal, without a purpose, we have nothing.

Setting goals for your life

This was the theme of my life last year – setting goal after goal was what I lived for. I told myself I had to quit my job and get myself to Chicago – and I did it. I told myself I had to find a job once I got here, surviving on VERY limited funds while living in my in-laws basement – I did it. I told myself I’d pay off my credit by the end of 2009 – I did it. I pushed myself to develop freelance business as a realistic and reliable source of income – and today it very much is. I told myself (and my fiance) that I’d get married on May 8, 2010…and well, it looks like we’re well on pace toward making that a reality as well.

Now, this isn’t a big ol’ pat on the back for yours truly – I’m proud of where I am but you could probably care less. Instead, it’s to prove a point – a point that you have to give yourself something to strive for, something to conquer and achieve. By doing so, you create path for yourself, your give yourself a light at the end of the long and winding tunnel, you define a purpose for the day, week, and months ahead.

One step at a time

But what’s the one thing you notice? For starters, none of these are MASSIVE goals. I didn’t tell myself I was going to make ten-million dollars and move to Fiji – I told myself I’d muster up the courage to quit my job, move to a new city, relieve myself of some debt. Goals are there to motivate you, but the easiest way to lose that motivation is when you set goals that are unrealistic and unachievable.

You have to set small goals – achievable benchmarks throughout the journey. Do I want to start my own business? Open up a coffee shop? Write a book? Write more books? Start a family? Of course – we all have “life” goals – those “big hairy” ones that we work toward throughout our lifetimes. But it’s the little ones along the way that keep us going – that maintain our drive, motivate to keep us pushing onward and putting one foot in front of the other. Even if we lose sight of our big goals, the little ones keep us grounded, they keep us sane, they keep us hustling.

Should you set big goals? Should you write down a “life list” of things you want to accomplish? Should you forecast your business for the years ahead? Sure. But if you’re constantly focused on the big picture, you won’t be thinking about how to get there. And without benchmarks to measure your success, you won’t know whether or not you’re on the right track.

What big (and small) goals have you set for yourself this year and beyond?

(This post originally inspired by a post/comment/discussion over at Rebecca Denison’s place)

About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. I also watch entirely too much Saved by the Bell, run marathons, and drink plenty of craft beer. Check out the work my company is doing at Proof Branding.