How to easily set life goals (and accomplish them!) – Creating Personal Branding goals
Last week, someone who attended my Personal Branding guest lecture at URJC reached out to me on LinkedIn, wanting to understand what kind of goals he should set as part of building his personal brand.
Once I got past the happy dance stage – it makes my day when I hear someone is using personal branding to make their life better, and especially when I’ve helped them onto that path – I sat down to answer the question and realized it’s a bit more complicated than it looks on the surface.
There are two kinds of goals we set as part of creating our personal brands: life goals and “action” goals. The first set the direction of our lives and careers, and the second help us move towards them.
In the first step of our personal branding journey (Find) we work to define what our life goals are. These can be short, medium, and long-term goals, although most of them will be medium/long term, and they set the objectives we’re working towards.
I want to work 8 to 3 so I can be home to enjoy time with my family and focus on making memories.
I want to become a CIO by the time I’m 50.
I want to travel the world.
I want to write a book.
I want to have time for hobbies and exercise.
I want to be recognized in my field for my expertise and invited to conferences.
I want to own a 6-bedroom house with a swimming pool.
I want to make lasting government policy changes.
I want to retire at 45.
I want to learn a second language.
Many exercises can help you clarify your life goals. Here are three of my favorites:
Post-It Brainstorm Session
Grab a stack of post-it notes and a pen, set a timer (normally I start with 30 minutes), and commit to writing down goals or wants on them for the allotted time, as many as you can come up with.
Hit the countdown and don’t filter what you’re writing – you’ll do that later. For now, pour as much as you can out there.
I normally have a few categories in mind to help me if I’m getting stuck (i.e. health, family, work, growth, finances, romantic relationship, friendships, others) but the key is to keep at it for the entire time. You might be surprised at what crops up!
Once the time is up, I group the goals/wants by theme or area, and do a first pass to identify my top ones, remove any that on further thought don’t feel right, and see whether some of them are part of a different goal (i.e. learn Spanish may be part of the goal Move to Spain). I also tag them by whether they’re short, medium, or long-term goals. At this point I normally move them to Trello, where I can do the tagging and have them easily at hand, but you can do this by simply writing an “s”, “m” or “l” on the post-it.
This exercise is similar to Ximena Vengoechea’s life audit, which I recommend checking out if you want a more guided experience.
I do this exercise with my husband every January to set our goals for the year, and it’s been a game-changer – I’ve gone from having projects that languish in my “I’d love to one day…” pile to actually doing things I love and I’m proud of. If you pair it with calendar planning you can even avoid burning out due to putting too many things on your list (but that’s a topic for another post...).
Doodle a vision board of your ideal life. Let different images represent your ideal lifestyle, choice locations, work-related items, and any other elements that would make your life perfect. Don’t get too hung up on the drawings – just let yourself imagine what the end goal is.
Once you’re sure you’ve got everything down, translate them into different goals based on your drawings (e.g. live in Paris, have a big family, lead a team of engineers, etc.).
Reflection – A life well lived
Give yourself a bit of quiet time where you can reflect on the following prompts – these are great for journaling and helping you envision your life from the perspective of your future self:
My life would be a life well-lived if ...
I want to be remembered as a person that was ...
I hope, once I’m gone, I’ll be remembered for ...
If I could choose my legacy, it would be ...
What I most want to be doing with my life is ...
Another version that can be very powerful is Hamza Khan’s Eulogy exercise. If this exercise resonates with you, the Eulogy is well worth a try!
Did you try any of the life goals exercises? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Throughout the personal branding process we create an Action Plan, a list of the specific actions we will take to build our fulfilling and successful lives.
A lot of the short-term life goals will be able to go directly into the Action Plan. For example, “learn Spanish” can be an action goal, with the following steps:
Find Spanish classes I can attend online
Sign up for classes
Sign up for language exchange
Watch movies in Spanish once a week
Take Spanish DELE B2 exam
Others will need to be broken down more. For example, if my goal is to become a CIO by the time I’m 50, I may break it down into “Promotion to Lead Data Scientist by 2023”, “Stretch projects to demonstrate thought leadership in 2024”, “Promotion to Head of Data by 2026”, “Promotion to CIO by 2032”. Each of these will have smaller action goals that feed into them, and can (and should) be adjusted as I evaluate progress and impact, and ensure they’re still aligned to my life goals.
I hope that helps clarify the difference between life and action goals and helps you to get started defining them for yourself. Let me know how it goes by dropping me a comment below!