ImageA friend is writing a magazine article about life goals and asked for my top tips for setting or reaching life goals, or whether I think that having goals is actually unhelpful. So I had a little think about what part goals have played in my life, and I’d love it if you could share your thoughts on the subject in the comments (as long as you’re willing for them to be used in the article).

When thinking about it, I realised that I don’t really set myself specific targets like “be earning £x by y age” or “reach x job title in y years’ time” or even non-work related “bucket list”-type goals like travelling to certain countries by a particular age or taking up a hobby or learning a skill.

For me, part of the pleasure of life is not knowing where it will take you. I was never one of those people who knew what career they wanted since they were knee high to a grasshopper; for me, my career has been shaped by grasping opportunities when they presented themselves to me. I have applied for and accepted roles that look interesting and challenging, rather than those that meet a predetermined career trajectory.

It’s a “strategy” (if it’s not too much of a stretch to call it that!) that has served me well so far. I’ve gained all sorts of valuable and varied experiences that I may not have done had I consciously followed a set path.  For example, it certainly wasn’t part of any plan to be made redundant (not that that’s something that many of us ever have control over or plan for), but had it not occurred, I would never have taken the steps myself to leave my former organisation and set up a business with my wife. But the opportunity presented itself, and we grabbed it, and set up the business and now get to spend a great deal of time together, working towards shared aims, which is fantastic.

Having said all that, I’d like to think that my life is not totally directionless, bumbling aimlessly from one event to the next, reacting with no real thought for where it might take me. Instead, I have a series of high level life goals, or perhaps they’re more accurately described as guiding principles, within which I try to live.

They are:
– To feel fulfilled, stretched and challenged at work
– To feel that I’m adding value at work
– To feel that I’m reaching – or working towards reaching – my full potential
– To constantly learn new things
– To always try to do the right thing, even when it is difficult (tough one!)
– To do some good (through work, volunteering, etc.)
– To build a happy life and home with my wife

No, they’re not SMART, and they don’t lead to a particular end goal (apart from happiness!), but they serve me well.

So, what about you? Do you agree or do you have monthly/quarterly/annual life goals and an end game in sight? Let me know what you think and be part of the magazine article.