“The one skill most responsible for the abundance in my life is learning how to effectively set and achieve goals.” –Darren Hardy (author of The Compound Effect and former publisher of SUCCESS magazine)
In my last two posts I have talked about how to set goals and how to make changes in your life. This week I am going to cover what areas of life you should set goals in.
A preliminary note, though – before you set goals it is important that you consider the answer to the question, “Who do I truly want to become?” As the oft-repeated quote goes, “People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.” Everyone knows “successful” people who lost everything that was important on their way to the “top.” They lost family, friends, trust and so much more.
Clayton Christensen wrote an excellent book titled, “How Will You Measure Your Life?” He tells a story about how, at his 10-year Harvard Business School reunion, all of his classmates seemed to be doing well. Many of them were on their way to the top of their companies and were earning enormous amounts of money. What he found out, though, was that many of them were unhappy.
Many did not enjoy what they did for a living and there were numerous divorces or unhappy marriages. One of his classmates told him he hadn’t talked to his children in years.
As the years went by, things got progressively worse. One of his brightest classmates, who earned more than $100 million in a single year as Enron’s CEO, ended up in jail for his role in the Enron scandal.
Christensen shares these stories with his students on the last day of class and then writes these questions on the board:
How can I be sure that:
- I will be successful and happy in my career?
- My relationships with my spouse, my children, and my extended family and close friends become an enduring source of happiness?
- I live a life of integrity – and stay out of jail?
Have you ever asked yourself these questions? If not, now is a good time to do so. Pull up a note and write out the answers to them. It can be an enlightening experience, and critical to setting goals that ensure your ladder is leaning on the right wall.
With that as a background, let’s move on to what areas of your life you should set goals in. I’ve read a number of different ideas, but I find the Wheel of Life approach to be the most comprehensive and easiest to use. My two main sources of inspiration on this are Zig Ziglar and Darren Hardy. The seven areas of the Wheel of Life are:
- Personal & Social
- Work & Career
You need to get specific, though! You need to define specifically what success looks like in each area, and you rate each one on a scale of 1-10, with one being very poor and 10 being outstanding.
To help you set this up properly, I have created a Wheel of Life planning worksheet with some suggestions by both Zig Ziglar and Darren Hardy.
You can access that here: https://ryanhlaw.com/resources/
Let’s look at an example. For Physical/Health one suggestion is, “I eat a healthy breakfast every day.” If I eat a healthy breakfast 3-4 days a week I might rate myself a 5 in that area. I can then follow up with a few questions:
- What number would I like to get to?
- What will it take to get me to that number?
- Am I ready to make a change in this area (am I am the Preparation stage of the Stages of Change)?
- If I am ready to make a change, what small step can I commit to – one that I am guaranteed not to fail? Another way to look at this would be to ask, “What will take me to a 5.5?”
Does this amount of work seem daunting or overwhelming to you? If it does, let me take you back to Darren Hardy’s quote from the beginning of the article:
“The one skill most responsible for the abundance in my life is learning how to effectively set and achieve goals.”
This type of work is what Stephen Covey calls Quadrant II work – important but not urgent. Commit to set some time aside to properly plan your life.
You can find the Wheel of Life Planning worksheet here:
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