Why do you NEED to have goals in life? Surely, you can just improvise and continue meandering through life with no fixed destination? When are goals important? What exactly are the benefits of having goals? How do you identify and set goals? Let’s find out.


The folks at Personal Excellence declare you must have goals in order to “be excellent.” You are advised to stop being a passenger and to start driving. The first instruction is to “Take control of your life.” Phrases such as “laser focus, maximum results, motivation, accountability,” are haphazardly thrown about. Crossing the finish line, you should have mastered the art of being the best you that you can be.


To make goal setting valuable there has to be a major personal payoff. Popular press would have you believe that setting personal goals is ostensibly worth it. Therapist Roger Elliot compiled a simple list of personal benefits:

  • You get out of that rut,
  • You take control of your life
  • Your actions match your talk
  • You focus on the important things
  • You are successful, regardless of what that means to other people
  • Other people understand where you are coming from

What jumps out at you? The beacon is that “you are successful, regardless of what that means to other people.” Empowerment is one of the finest gifts you can give yourself. If setting goals has the potential to boost your self-esteem and confidence, why wouldn’t you set goals?


Goal setting is a strong construct in the corporate world. Employees must set work goals and actively pursue them. Your success as an employee directly benefits the company. Burnout is likely to occur from constant pressure to perform. Remember, there has to be balance. An overworked, stressed out employee will not be an asset. Pace yourself!


Goal setting is part of personal development. Without active forward movement, there is stagnation. You get stuck. Having something tangible to aim for when you need a boost makes sense. You must have at least one thing you would like to achieve personally. Planning the path to your goal includes considering your personal values and beliefs.

Goals contribute to the feeling of having a purpose. Goals are an expression of the things that you want for yourself, or who you want to be. You will have clarity when you see your hopes, dreams and wishes in black and white. You will have something to strive for. You will have tangible measures. And most importantly, you will have purpose.


Thomas Oppong in his article “The Dangerous Approach of Living Without Purpose,” warns that not having goals will result in “no success… no clarity… no motivation…and no forward momentum. He cautions, “A life without purpose is a life without a destination.” This is a very strongly worded opinion. Do you always know which direction you are going in? Do you always have a destination in mind? Who gets to judge whether you are a success or not?


Looking at different areas of your life and assigning short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals, will give you a framework for your future. Taking into consideration how you see yourself managing finances, education, health, career, relationships, personal development, and many other aspects of your life. It doesn’t hurt to dream a little. You have carte blanche to choose what to focus on first.


If you have NO goals, and draw a blank when confronted, there is help. An article by Ali Hale on Dumb Little Man – Tips for Life, suggests ways to overcome goal block. Goals do not have to be huge. Goals can be something you simply would like to do. Goals do not have to be something tied to expectations of society, or pressure from other people. Goals are for you.

Ali Hale also suggests choosing something you enjoy or are passionate about. You have probably been passionate about many things in your life. Choose the things that have stood the test of time. Hobbies, sports, lifestyle choices, causes that you continue to support, are most likely passions if they have endured the test of time.

If you still have NO idea what your goals are, Ali Hale suggests you identify “what you don’t want”. Then, come up with as many ways to ensure the worst-case scenario never materializes. In doing so, you have set goals.


If the idea of goal setting makes you break out in sweat, an easy formula has stood the test of time. Setting goals using the SMART system states that goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Using a worksheet makes using this method straightforward.

The SMART system directs you to pick one large life goal. Then list smaller tasks and write them in the short and medium-term categories. Implement a system to track progress. Identify current resources such as people, places, things, and time. Ascertain if you can actually reach the objective. Lastly put end dates on your goals.


Leo Babauta in his article “the best goal is no goal,” succinctly explains, “It means you stop letting yourself be limited by goals.” This has led him to strange destinations, and learning unanticipated things. To Babauta, the beauty of essentially blowing in the wind works for him. He does warn that although anyone can do it, it is a “difficult transition.” Not for the faint of heart.

Babauta continues that the standard method of goal setting creates a lot of corresponding sub-goals, comprising weekly and daily tasks. This rarely works out because life can be unexpected and your daily tasks get rearranged, and then the weekly tasks are shuffled… and then you’re not meeting any goals. Then you feel pressured and unproductive. Then desolation sets in and nothing gets done. It’s a setup.

Babauta enlightens us, “Here’s the secret: the problem isn’t you, it’s the system! Goals as a system are set up for failure. Babauta continues, “Just because you don’t have goals doesn’t mean you do nothing — you can create, you can produce, you can follow your passion.” In addition, he asserts that he gets more done because he is “excited” to be doing what he is doing. He makes a good point.


My conclusion is yes, you need goals. Your goals are entirely personal based on your own set of values, lifestyle, and destination. It is entirely up to you how rigidly you adhere to customary goal development and affirmations of success by societal standards.

Personally, goals help me stay organized. I do not strictly adhere to having to “cross something off the list” each day to feel accomplished. Goals are a guideline. A task list stuck to my cork-board for reference, and a notebook always has me working on something.

Life is dynamic, constantly changing. Goals will change too. You do not have to be rigid with your goals. If something no longer fits, discard it and start over. High five every time you reach a goal or major milestone. And if SMART goals setting isn’t for you, that is ok too. Now go write those lists!

If you find yourself in a never ending cycle of negative self-talk, jump on over to this article on how to turn negative self-talk into positive coping skills.

Click here to download the printable goals worksheet today and start your own journey.

What are your opinions about goals, how do you work with them? Comment below.


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