In order to prioritize your goals you’ll need to have a good understanding of what you need to be happy in your life. There are typically four areas in which most people make goals:
- Family – Spending more time with your kids or partner
- Financial – Saving toward your six-month emergency cash or starting a business
- Physical – Being healthy and more active
- Personal – Getting more education or devoting more time to spiritual pursuits
Within each of these areas are numerous concerns, but most goals can be summed up into one of these four areas. As to which goals are most important at any given time, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions to determine where to place your focus.
- Which goals nag at you most often? – What keeps you up at night that worries you? Are your finances suffering because you cannot earn enough money at your current job and you want to figure out how to get off the debt treadmill? This is a goal that fits in with all four of the areas above because financial stress can cause a lot of problems with your health and personal development as well as cause problems within the family.
- Which goals can be accomplished most easily? – Some goals are very short term but give maximum impact without too much work. For instance, maybe you have a goal of walking 15 minutes per day. This goal may only fit in with the personal and physical areas above, but walking 15 minutes per day will not take much away from the other areas and can give you huge results and a feeling of accomplishment.
- Which goals would give you the most pride in yourself? – Will you feel better if you lose 20 pounds or will you feel better if you spend 20 minutes extra with your son? Keep in mind there is no wrong answer, although being healthy might ultimately give you more time in terms of years with your son.
- Which goals have the most permanent results? – When choosing whether to spend that extra money on your degree, determine how permanent the results are and realize that no one can take that degree from you; it will always be an accomplishment. What is it worth?
- Which goals will still have an impact in 5 or 10 years? – If you start a business today and work daily toward meeting the goals of that business, what will be different in five or ten years? How will that impact you now and in the future?
- Which goals align with other core values in life? – Any goal that fits into all four areas of your life is worth pursuing if it also fits into your schedule at the time.
- Which goals are completely up to you, that you control 100 percent? – Remember that you cannot control what anyone else does, so if any goal relies on the participation of someone else and you don’t have their participation, you might want to switch gears and focus on something only you control.
- Which goals are just for you? – Some goals are completely personal in nature and have nothing to do with anyone else. For instance, you might want to read a particular author that has nothing to do with anything but your own pleasure. This is perfectly fine.
- Which goals are just for others? – There are “shoulds” that often get in the way of proper goal setting, and these are goals that are only for other people. Your spouse wants you to lose weight, your mom wants you to go to college, your best friend wants you to start a business. None of these are a good reason to do something by themselves, although as long as you know going in why and carefully consider the costs, it’s okay to make it a goal if you will also find benefits in the achievement as well.
- Which goals cause you the most fear? Why? – Sometimes the very thing you fear most is what’s best for you to do. Look clearly at your goal and figure out why it frightens you. Sometimes it’s just fear of the unknown and, like ripping off a Band-Aid, just doing it might be the best cure.
- Which goals make you excited? – Some goals immediately send tingles down your body and into your mind, pushing you forward to doing it. These are goals that are easy to do and probably impact your life a lot. However, do pay attention to the actual value you’ll be gaining from its completion, because if it’s a goal like becoming the high scorer on a video game you might want to question your “why”.
- Which goals are most realistic? – The best goals to put first are the goals that best fit into your life today, cover all four areas of life, will fit into your schedule, and where you control 100 percent of the effort needed to proceed.
When you answer all these questions, you’ll be able to see how the goals practically organize themselves. Try making a chart and adding each goal to the four areas, then choosing the ones that cross the most areas to add to your schedule first.