So I’m a big fan of setting goals for myself. More so I’m a big fan of setting those goals across different disciplines. It’s vital to build up all areas of our life, regardless of whether we’re setting a goal one year out or five years out. I believe our improvements, achievements, and even shortcomings can be placed into one of the following five categories, with many running across multiple categories. This is my personal evaluation, there’s no definitive, “These are the 3 or 5 or 7 categories to base your life around…” But for me, these 5 work, and I think everything can be placed into at least one of them.
Learn a skill, learn a trade, learn a language. This category is related to knowledge and improving your mind. Maybe you’ve always wanted to take a cooking class. Or maybe you’ve always thought about writing a book of poetry. Improving your mental capabilities will only strengthen your mind and enable you reach even more of your goals in the future. Author and Entrepreneur James Altucher has some great thoughts on growing your, “Idea Muscle.”
Go to the gym, gain muscle, lose weight, improve your flexibility, get stronger, run faster, jump higher, etc. There are no limits to this, and the great thing is you only need to compare yourself to yourself. Whether you’re 20 or 80 there is never a bad time to get in better shape. This could be related to a health concern, or to look good for a significant other, or merely to ensure you’re around for your grandkids or great grandkids. Don’t forget, “physical” doesn’t just mean the exercise part. Eating different foods, eating better foods, eating more vegetables, taking vitamins and even getting more sleep are all a part of your physical fitness. If your goal is, “Get at least 6 hours of sleep a night,” that’s great. Go for it. Improving your physical self will make you feel better right away and lead to literally decades of a better quality of life.
Regardless of your religion or lack of religion, your spiritual well-being is just as important as the other categories. Everyone should have a firm grasp of the fact that one day you will no longer be breathing, so you’d better make the most of your time on this earth. As a Christian I believe no matter how much money I make or weights I lift or places I visit, that one day I will answer to a higher power named Jesus Christ who will make me give an account for everything I’ve done, (or didn’t do.) One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Peter 3:15 which tells me that a Christian should always be ready to provide an answer to someone who asks them just why exactly it is that they believe what they do. It’s the reason I believe I have a duty as a Christian to read the Bible, understand politics and philosophy and have a working knowledge of scientific discovery and theory.
If you’re not religious however, your spiritual life is still very important. How’s that? Because “spiritual” does not necessarily need to mean religious. Are you ostracized from a family member? Do you want to repair a friendship? Would you like to spend more time with your kids or have deeper conversations with your wife? Think of a spiritual goal as being tied to your psyche. Lots of people who don’t practice religion still practice meditation or deep breathing exercises to start or end their day. You can learn to speak another language and you can bench press more weight, but if you’re always stressed out, your spiritual life is suffering.
Make more money, save more money. Eliminate debt, cut expenses. Your financial goals can be extremely long term or extremely immediate. Do you want to retire at 50 or 60 or live your life so you never need to retire? Do you want to start a new career or change jobs? Maybe you want to save for a house, pay off a loan or donate more to charity. Wherever you are in your life, everyone thinks about finances on a daily basis. Let’s face it, we have to. We all need a place to live and food to eat. Your finances make up a major part of your life and just like, “I’m going to get in shape,” finances usually are the first thing we think about when it comes time for a New Year’s resolution.
Your experiences in life will help define you are as a person, especially as YOU see yourself. Others may see you as the sum of the other four aspects. “Steve is involved in marketing and politics (mental), Steve is a Christian (spiritual), Steve likes to play sports, workout and eats Paleo/Primal (physical), Steve makes X thousand dollars a year and owns x,y, and z (financial). But your experiences will allow you to help others understand the part of you they may not see everyday.
Travel is a huge experience as it will provide you with stories for a lifetime. Learning a skill isn’t just a mental goal, but usually an experience. A child who learns to ride a bike has gained a mental skill, but also an experience that neither he nor his parents will ever forget. It’s vitally important to include goals of experience in your life in order to have memorable aspects to look back on and look forward to.
While “Saving $5,000” seems like a strictly financial goal, “Saving $5,000 and then going on a luxury cruise,” adds the experiential part. Give yourself some goals of experience to aim for when you draw up your checklists.