Goals can provide us with a sense of purpose, meaning, and self-satisfaction. Setting goals is a great way to keep us accountable and achieve personal objectives. Having clear goals and direction in life can help us stay motivated, focused, and fulfilled. While living without goals can lead to a lack of purpose and direction.
There have been thousands of studies that have shown the importance of setting specific goals and how these goals have led to increased performance, motivation, and boosting confidence. For example, a study done in 2015 by Gail Matthews showed that creating specific, written goals led to a 33% increase in success and self-efficacy.
So what is the effect of living a life without goals, and how can our own happiness improve with goal setting? In this article, we will explore the dangers of living without goals, the benefits of goal setting, and how to balance personal and professional goals.
What Is A Life Without Goals?
What does it mean to live a life without goals? Having no goals in life can make us feel directionless and without purpose. Without goals, you may feel like a hamster on a wheel – constantly spinning but going nowhere. Goals ultimately fuel us to create meaning for ourselves and push us to realize our purpose.
The Dangers of Living Without Clear Goals or Direction
There are no right or wrong decisions when it comes to setting goals. The only wrong decision is to not create goals at all. Without goals, we often feel as though we’re drifting purposelessly throughout life. Even the smallest of goals can attach meaning to our lives. The dangers of living without clear goals or direction are that having no purpose can lead to a lack of motivation, a sense of aimlessness, and feelings of anxiety or depression.
Living a good life often means creating passion and happiness. Without a purpose or goals, we can experience missed opportunities, unfulfilled potential, and a lack of fulfilment in life. As Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said, “The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
In fact, goal setting may actually change the structure of the brain. A study done in 2013 on women with multiple sclerosis showed that creating goals not only provided a continued sense of achievement but that these women actually showed less intense symptoms than those who did not set goals. This could be evidence to support that goal setting helps improve well-being and can improve connections in our brains. Meanwhile, not having goals can lead to feeling a lack of purpose and a loss of sense of self.
Since living without goals can lead to feeling overwhelmed and lacking purpose then how can you set goals that matter?
Not only do simple goals help provide perspective, create passion, and improve feelings of accomplishment, but creating clear and specific goals can help us focus our energy and efforts and lead to a greater sense of fulfilment and accomplishment.
Having a roadmap and a clear idea of where we want to go in life can help us make it to the finish line. You do not need to meticulously plan out every aspect of your life, but creating specific and achievable goals can help you focus and accomplish what you set out for. One of the best steps for creating goals is using SMART goals.
SMART goals stand for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-limited. Consciously setting goals that are SMART can help to create a guide to make the goals more manageable and accomplish them.
Using the five “W” questions can help make your goals more specific. These are:
- Who is involved in the goal?
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Where is the goal located?
- When do I want to achieve the goal?
- Why is this goal important?
Making a goal measurable means finding a way to track and measure progress. How do you know when you have completed the goal? Ask yourself what indicates progress and how will you know if you’ve met your goal?
Achievable means that when you put the effort in, the goal is attainable. Do you have the resources and capabilities to meet this goal?
Is the goal attainable within the time frame you’ve chosen? Have other people been able to accomplish this goal? Do you have the means of achieving these goals?
All goals need a target date. If you don’t have any idea when you would like to achieve this goal, you’re more likely to do absolutely nothing to achieve it. Setting a time frame keeps the finish line in sight and increases drive and motivation.
Starting Your Own Business and Understanding Deep Business Desires
Starting your own business has both benefits and drawbacks. Owning your own business can provide greater flexibility and financial rewards, but can also involve greater risk and uncertainty. Why is goal setting important for owning a business?
As mentioned, having a roadmap creates focus and success. In order for a business to succeed there needs to be some understanding of personal objectives and financial goals.
Starting a business takes time and patience. Without set goals, the plan loses focus which often leads to poor business practices and difficulty succeeding. But goals can feel overwhelming. The important part of creating goals is to break them down into smaller steps and more manageable tasks.
This can be done by creating long-term, intermediate, and short-term goals. Tackle the short-term goals to work towards the intermediate and long-term ones. Each small-term goal is a step in the process.
An example of a business goal setting tool is a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis can help a business define its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This can help determine areas of improvement, where to spend additional time, and devise a good strategy for the future.
Balancing Both Your Business and Personal Goals
Balancing life and professional goals can often be difficult. When owning a company, much of your free time can get taken away and the lines can blur between work and personal life. Overwhelming yourself with work can lead to burnout. This will disrupt both your personal and professional goals. Some ways to improve work-life balance are:
- Set boundaries. This means know when to say “no” and be clear about what you need.
- Prioritize self-care. Take time for things you enjoy, spend time with friends, eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and find ways to relax.
- Disconnect when at home. Turn off your phone, pause your notifications, disconnect from your work email. Whatever it may be, find ways to separate your work and home life.
Creating good work-life balance can be difficult when owning your own company. That is why it is important to align your personal and professional goals. Having clear and specific goals for each can create a vision for achieving these goals.
Not balancing both personal life and professional goals can have significant negative affects on physical and mental health. As the entrepreneur Andy Sexton experienced, when he opened his business five years ago, his plan was to set up a company that fit around his personal life and family. But he reported that every waking moment was spent either at work or working at home. He was working 12 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week.
By creating a plan, Sexton reported having a new goal and enough time to concentrate on that goal. He reported that aligning his personal and professional goals, while creating a realistic timeline helped him to focus on one thing at a time and resulted in having more free time for his personal life.
A life without goals can lead to a life without purpose, feeling unfulfilled, not achieving your potential, decreasing motivation, and affecting well-being. Finding purpose by creating goals leads to increased hope, being able to realize your dreams, improving happiness, and creating passion.
So to do that, you should concentrate on creating SMART goals, taking small steps towards your future goals, making the goals manageable, and aligning personal and professional goals but making sure you have a clear boundary between those two things.
How will you start your journey? Take a small step today by focusing on what is important to you and setting up one goal that you can start you on your journey.