Setting and achieving goals is a topic we often discuss, but you’re not alone if you’re thinking… Where do I even start? Or perhaps you’ve gotten really good about setting goals… but not reaching them. Before you start using that beautiful brainpower of yours to think about those goals, you need to first set the right foundation for the whole process. That begins with WHO you are.
You might be thinking… What do you mean, it begins with who I am?
That’s what we’re going to cover today. It’s time to get to know yourself… to actually discover more about yourself – because YOU are your most valuable resource.
First, direct your thoughts to this most important question:
What kind of change do you want to see in your life?
Yep. We know. That can be a bit challenging to define. It might be a BIG change you’re looking for; or it might be a small shift you know you need to make; or even several unrelated small shifts. Either way, think this one through. Make notes. Write it down.
Once you’ve outlined the change(s) you’re hoping for, the next piece of the puzzle is how to apply those changes to add meaning to your life. We believe everyone wants a meaningful life.
What does a “meaningful life” look like to you?
As you dig deep for that answer, don’t put pressure on yourself to picture something monumental or huge. Meaningful doesn’t have to be epic. It might take time, but if you start with WHO you are, and think about WHAT you love, then you’ll be able combine these things to make a meaningful life.
“Personally, when I think of a meaningful life and what that means to me, I think of simple abundance. Life to me is not about fancy cars or big houses or a flashy, glamorous lifestyle. And I believe that the abundance we’re all looking for is something deep within us. These two words truly represent a meaningful life to me: simple abundance.” – Day Designer founder + creator Whitney English
To understand where you’re trying to go, it’s important to recognize the 10 vital signs of a meaningful life. Think about which ones need to be tended to in your life.
Mindfulness is an ability to be present, calm and still. A meaningful life is present. This doesn’t mean you have to never be on your phone. It just means that you’re able to turn it off!
Connection is about relating to others. It requires vulnerability. We have to expose ourselves and how we’re thinking and feeling. Don’t be afraid of that vulnerable feeling when it creeps up. If you’re willing to be vulnerable, then you’re going to connect.
The concept of gratitude is the opposite of scarcity. Gratitude produces joy. Scarcity produces fear. Replace thoughts of scarcity and fear with gratitude. Gratitude turns what we have into enough. We can’t expect joy to come without gratitude.
We often compare ourselves to others. When we do that, we are stifling our creativity. And we are minimizing the gifts and talents that we’ve been given. Try something new and know that it’s okay for things to be a mess. It’s okay to fail. Share your gifts and talents with the world.
Courage is the opposite of trying to always be in control. Sometimes letting go is the most courageous thing we can do.
Self-compassion is about being kind to yourself versus perfectionism and ridiculously high standards. The definition of a perfectionist isn’t someone who does it perfectly every time, but someone who has expectations for the outcome to be perfect every time. So we need to let go of the “should sayings” – I should have done this; I should have done that. Our ability to be kind to others starts with ourselves. Give yourself grace.
Authenticity is about being real versus caring about what people think. We’re given unique strengths and capabilities, and we don’t need to hide those! What truly matters is if we have done the best that we can to the best of our abilities. Hold yourself to the standard of knowing you did your best. Push yourself to the best you can possibly be today, while staying authentic to yourself. It’s all about the balance of doing the best you can and being real. Pursue excellence instead of perfection.
Faith versus certainty. Whether you are a religious or spiritual person or not – life just takes faith. When we live with open hands rather than clenched fists, we experience some amazing benefits in life. We don’t have control over what’s going to happen tomorrow.
Let your love of learning and your love of life take you places. Live with abandon.
Purpose equals meaningful work. By this we mean to look out at the world and ask yourself how you can help. Your purpose is found when you recognize your strengths, gifts, abilities, and what you do best – and you take all of that to the world – and you help the world experience those things. What you do best, plus helping others, equals your purpose.
To connect these vital signs to who you are, you’ll need to think about your own personal strengths.
What do you think your strengths are?
Living a meaningful life means that we’re using the gifts we‘ve been given. But we have to find them and uncover them before we can use them. We’ve been given our strengths as gifts. By using them, we’ll help others and that in turn will fulfill our purpose.
Who you are will inform your activities, passions, interests, goals, and efforts. In order to discover more about yourself, you need to understand three things about yourself:
You need to understand what your values are. There are two types of values. Your operational values are how you spend your time and money. Unfortunately, most people do not like their answers. This is all about having an honest conversation with yourself about where you are. Your aspirational values are what you’re thinking about when you’re determining your operational values. You won’t be able to determine these otherwise. Your aspirational values represent something you want to become; the way you want to live.
What you value in life is going to indicate what you start pursuing. If you can’t figure out what your passions are, simply follow your curiosity. Curiosity is gentler, kinder, more welcoming, more of a human instinct, and more accessible than passion. Keep being curious.
By focusing on your strengths, you’ll save time in the end. You’ll naturally be focusing on the things that automatically bring you the greatest returns. You’ll become more resourceful when you utilize your strengths. You’ll get more done each day, you’ll make better decisions, and your life will start to improve. You will naturally improve your levels of self-confidence. You will be building more certainty into your life. It will become easier to practice courage, step out in faith, and be a little more courageous and brave.
To help walk you through this process, we have a FREE worksheet set available here for a limited time. Print this out as a guide to understanding your Values, Passions and Strengths. You’ll see that we also included the “crazy list.”
Are you maximizing your strengths for the benefit of those around you?
Look at your values, passions, curiosities, interests, and strengths – and figure out how you can help the people around you. This defines your purpose in life!
You’ve now learned the essential steps to take before you can effectively set your goals:
1. Ask yourself these important questions:
- What kind of change do you want to see in your life?
- What does a meaningful life look like to you?
- What do you think your strengths are?
- What the craziest thing you want to do?
- Are you maximizing your strengths for the benefit of those around you?
2. Understand the vital signs for a meaningful life, and which of those areas need improvement in your life.
3. Discover more about yourself by knowing your values, passions or interests, and strengths. Use our FREE Values, Passions and Strengths worksheets as a guide.
Now that you understand the foundation to setting goals, we want to show you how we can use all of this information to create a goal-setting system for our lives that not only helps others but ensures that we’re taking care of ourselves. Stay tuned as we discuss setting goals, defining priorities, and the roadblocks we might encounter along the way – next week on the blog.
Day Designer is a strategic planner and daily agenda for living a well-designed life. We’re on a mission to get you organized with an intuitive system for goals, focus, and living with intention.