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Are You Working On The Right Goals?

working on the right goals; forget what everybody else thinks; how to set goals that feel right for you; align your time and energy with your personal definition of success and your personal values; are you working on the right things?

If you are an over achiever with a list of goals that don’t feel quite right, here is a simple strategy you can use to make sure you are working on the right goals that are truly yours, and not somebody else’s. Avoid chasing the wrong goals, and align your time and energy with your personal definition of success and vision for life.


A couple of years ago, I attended a leadership conference with a group of my favorite colleagues and we spent a good portion of our time brainstorming life goals.

Sounds harmless, right?

Over the course of 2 days, the exercises required us to define our:

  • life goals
  • 10 years from now goals
  • 3-5 years from now goals
  • 1 year from now goals
  • this month goals
  • this week goals

Then we sat in a circle and sang kumbaya, I mean, shared our goals with our colleagues to help keep us accountable.

I’m all for dreaming big.

I love the actual process of setting goals.

Related post: The Ultimate Guide to Setting Goals and Achieving Personal Growth

I probably spend more time setting goals than working toward them (oops, I’m working on it).

I’ve even developed this goal setting template & success checklist that I use for myself and with my coaching clients to help them achieve every single goal they set.

goal setting template; goal setting checklist; free checklist for setting SMART goals the right way

You can purchase unlimited access to the PDF here for 5$, or get it for free by signing up to our email list!

But, today I want to speak directly to the over achievers out there.

The ones who have ten lists of goals and things they want to accomplish in life.

The ones with plans and timelines and notebooks out the wazoo.

Are the things you’re working toward making your life fuller?

working on the right goals; forget what everybody else thinks; how to set goals that feel right for you; align your time and energy with your personal definition of success and your personal values; are you working on the right things?

I’ve been reading all of the books that exist on joy and meaning, and am currently immersed in my third round of Brene Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection. She introduced me to an “ingredients list for joy and meaning.”

Related post: 5 Personal Development Books To Change Your Life

An Ingredient List For Joy And Meaning answers the question: “when things are going really well, what does it look like?”

For me, it was things like:

  • I regularly get quiet time to myself to read, journal, and meditate
  • I exercise
  • I go to sleep on time
  • I fuel my body with nutritious food
  • I have enough energy to play with my kids and stay up past the sun
  • I embrace food as a great culinary experience not a to-do list item
  • We spend time outdoors as a family
  • We are present with our kids
  • I think positive thoughts
  • The house is free of clutter
  • Our day jobs have meaning to us
  • We are in control of our money
  • There is time to indulge in ‘purposeless play’ – hobbies just for the sake of hobbies
  • We take time for regular date nights that bring us closer together
  • We stay in touch with family

When all these things are in place, my life feels filled to the brim with joy.

Related post: Building A Meaningful Life

I am happy, I am patient, I wake up every morning with a smile on my face, looking forward to the day.

When there isn’t a balance of these things in my life, I feel unmotivated, I have very little energy, and I am cranky with my husband. I have less patience for the kids, I look forward to the day being over as soon as I wake up, and I feel sad.

When there is a gap between what we spend our time and energy on, and what truly brings us joy, we feel it every day.

ANA MCRAE

If you’ve been feeling like you’re hustling for your dreams, but they’re not making you any happier, then you need to make sure your actions and your values are in alignment.

Today I want you to take the time and think about what brings true joy and real meaning to your life. Take 5 minutes and create your own ‘ingredients list for joy and meaning’ right now.

Then compare it to your ‘dream list’ or your ‘goals list’ or whatever ideas you’ve got in your head about where you need to take your life and what you need to accomplish.

For me, this list came from that conference, where it felt like I needed to spend the full hour coming up with the coolest list of the most impressive things.

I wrote down the following goals:

  • Run my own company
  • Achieve financial freedom
  • Write a book
  • Scale a non profit
  • Get a master’s degree
  • Pay off my mortgage
  • Become a certified coach
  • Go on 5 big trips
  • Compete in mountain biking
  • Raise well rounded children
  • Be super duper fit
  • Make an impact on solving child poverty
  • Build a tiny house
  • Get a huge raise

That’s all in the next 3 years by the way…

It was RIDICULOUS.

There are a few nuggets in that list that align with my values and that would bring me true joy during the process of achieving them, but most of that list was an attempt at building a life that other people thought was impressive.

The thing with chasing dreams that aren’t truly yours, is that the chances of success are slim to none without that fire in your heart.

ANA MCRAE

Even if you luck out and achieve that goal, it will never bring you what you thought it would and you will fall into a negative spiral of sadness, wishing you could get a do-over in life (just think of all the law students who finally made partner at a firm and suddenly came to the realization that they have spent 10 years of their lives absolutely miserable).

This list of things I’ve self imposed on myself that I have to do or have to be in order to feel happy actually contradicts most of my ‘ingredients list for joy and meaning.’

Everything on this list is an accomplishment or an acquisition… Everything requires that we make more money and spend more money. When we compared our ‘dream’ list to our ‘joy and meaning’ list, we realized that by merely letting go of the list of things we want to accomplish and acquire, we would actually be living our dream – not striving to make it happen in the future, but living it right now. The things we were working toward did nothing in terms of making our life fuller.

BRENE BROWN, Gifts of Imperfection

We often chase other people’s dreams (that we’ve convinced ourselves we want) because it is much easier to conform than it is to be honest with yourself, figure out your own purpose, and carve your own path.

ANA MCRAE

When your Instagram Feed is filled with people doing all the things and looking happy about it, you start to wonder if you should be doing all the things too.

  • You start to think maybe you’re behind in your life because you haven’t accomplished this or that.
  • You start to worry that time is slipping by and you’re not going to achieve the life you want to live.
  • You start to fill every minute of your day with a goal you need to work toward.

You become so stressed out that you’re not enjoying the very life you’re working so hard to create for yourself.

To all the over achievers out there, I wish I could snap you out of your goal chasing reverie and yell: you need a break!!!

You need to take time and reflect on what really truly matters to you! Where do you find joy? What brings you meaning?

Related post: Finding Your Purpose With 10 Questions

Don’t think about what your friends are doing.

Don’t think about what your parents think you should do.

Think about yourself.

At the end of the day, you’re responsible for making sure that your time, money, and energy are being put toward the things that will make you happy.

You’re responsible for building the life you want to live.

You’re responsible for achieving your dreams.

But sometimes, we spend years focusing on the wrong things, only to wake up one day and think ‘wow, that was not worth it. I do not want this. I wish I could get my time back.’

Related post: How To Shake Up A Monotonous Life

I don’t want that to be you, like it almost was me.

So take the time RIGHT NOW to compare what you think you want to accomplish to what you truly value and find joy in, and make sure your lists match.

Everyone finds value in working with an experienced life coach to uncover their highest ambitions (do you ever let yourself dream that big?), work through their limiting beliefs (how many times have you told yourself it’s not possible?), and finally build a life exploding with joy. I would love to do that for you, so let’s get you a free session right away.

And if you valued this post, do a girl a solid and share it on Pinterest.

working on the right goals; forget what everybody else thinks; how to set goals that feel right for you; align your time and energy with your personal definition of success and your personal values; are you working on the right things?

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Are the things you’re working toward making your life fuller?

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