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How To Determine What Type of Goals to Set When You Don’t Know What You Want

Even if you don’t know what goals you want to achieve, it doesn’t hurt to have goals. Read this post to discover how to determine what type of goals to set!

Why set goals?

Setting goals gives you vision and motivation in life. They help you organize your time and resources to make the most out of your life.

The only thing you can really manage are your efforts in relation to desired outcomes. But, that requires having some desired outcomes, otherwise, what are you managing to?

Desired Outcomes = Your Goals

This is a guide to help you determine what type of goals to set for yourself when you don’t know what you want.

Identify Your Goals

The first step, especially when you don’t know what you want, is to spend time thinking about yourself.

What do you want to accomplish in your life? Who do you want to be?

There are 7 common areas that goals are derived from, these can help you figure out what your goals are. Consider:

  • Romantic Relationships
  • School and Career
  • Family and Children
  • Health and Wellness
  • Finances
  • Personal Growth
  • Friendships

Type of Goals

After identifying what aspects of life you want to set goals for, you need to establish a time frame that works with each goal.

There are 4 different types of goals based on time:

Lifetime Goals

These goals should take you 10 years until the end of your life to achieve.

You set these goals when you think about yourself in the future. They are central to you and help you transform into your ideal future self.

Since these require the longest amount of time, they will naturally change as you evolve and get older.

Long-Term Goals

These are your workhorse goals, that should take between 5 and 10 years to achieve.

Do not underestimate what is possible with long-term goals.

Short-Term Goals

These are the goals that help you reach lifetime or long-term goals. They can take anywhere from a month, to 6 months, or even 1 year to achieve.

Stepping Stone Goals

These are the transactional goals. They allow you to reach the short-term goals, which then allow you to achieve long-term and lifetime goals.

How to Set Personal Goals

Once you have thought about what kind of goals you want to set for yourself and considered a type of goal, you are ready for goal setting.

There are 5 Golden Rules for setting goals, which help you with the hard work that is required to accomplish them. The steps that help you formulate specific goals are:

1. Set Goals that Motivate You

If you’ve thoughtfully considered the areas of life where you want to accomplish something, you should have found goals that truly motivate you.

If the goals are important to you and inspire you, then you will put the work in to make them happen. You will feel a sense of urgency that effective goals require.

If you ever doubt yourself or lose confidence, remember why the goal was so valuable to you in the first place.

2. Set SMART Goals

Goals should be SMART:

  • Specific: clear and well defined
  • Measurable: precise amounts and dates
  • Attainable: must be achievable
  • Relevant: must be relevant to your life
  • Time Bound: must have a deadline

3. Set Goals in Writing

By writing down your goals, you make them real and tangible. You will have no excuse for forgetting about them.

Creating an actual goal statement gives them power and passion. By posting them in visible places, you will remember every day what you are trying to achieve.

4. Make an Action Plan

When you write out your goal, you should also write out the individual steps that are required to accomplish each goal.

This is often the most skipped step, but it’s extremely helpful in the goal process. An action plan lets you know where you are relative to the ultimate goal and lets you cross off each step as you complete it; which in itself enhances motivation.

This is crucial if your goal is long-term or lifetime.

5. Stick With It

When goal setting, you must keep on track. Use reminders to evaluate your goals and where you are in the process.

While your goal may remain the same over time, your action plan can change significantly.

When it feels overwhelming, remember what motivated you in the first place, be patient and recognize that accomplishing goals is about small steps taken over time.

It’s better to accomplish a goal that should have take 2 months in 1 year, than to give up and never accomplish it.

Successful Goal Setting Tips

If you’re still having trouble deciding on a type of goals or setting goals in general, here are some additional goal setting tips to help.

Big Goals

Set bigger goals for the long-term because so much is possible with continued effort.

Start Small

Set simple goals first, things that allow for small wins you can achieve, this will improve your attitude and open the door for bigger goals in the future.


Tell other people about your goals, to keep you accountable.

Positive Thinking

Negativity has always lacked the power to bring productivity, so think positively.

Fun Goals

Make sure that every goal has some component that you find enjoyable, so that you find the process rewarding in addition to the outcome.

Don’t Hedge Your Bets

When setting long-term and lifelong goals, don’t hedge your bets by setting too small of goals. Push the boundaries of what you think is personally possible.


Self-talk is just about motivation, it can also surface personal insights. If you feel uncomfortable about telling yourself you are amazing or that you WILL accomplish a goal, it reveals some deep feelings that you can then address.

Visualize Yourself Achieving Goals

Visualize the process of achieving goals, so your mind perfects the techniques of achieving them.


Consistency and schedules help you track progress regularly and make improvements when necessary.

Plan for the Unexpected

Life is full of surprises, so it’s best to start planning for that.

Mind Maps

Mind maps are helpful for planning, organizing, and communicating goals.

Identify Your Fears

Recognizing your fears allow you to face them head on and move past them.

Welcome Failure

Failing a goal and dealing with disappointment creates motivation for you to go on and try again.

There is More to Life

At the end of the day, know that there is more to life than goals.


In conclusion, settling on your type of goals and establishing goals will help you accomplish what you want out of life.

Whether you have something in mind right now or in the far future, you can self-manage to make the most of your life.

What kind of goals have you set for yourself? Do you have any tips for those who are new to goal setting?

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