Goals aren’t hard to set. You can pretty much take any old dream or ambition and turn it into a goal, no matter how impractical or nonsensical. My goal is to someday be queen of my own small island and have ninety cats. Um, what?
Goals are easy. It’s setting realistic goals that’s the hard part. I will probably never own a small island, and ninety cats is a stretch even for me. But having realistic, achievable goals is the key to pretty much any kind of change or progress— you just have to know where to start.
When you’re starting at level one with anything you’re trying to do— losing weight, saving money, learning to macramé, whatever— it’s always helpful to have a solid idea of exactly where you stand. In general, taking a life inventory can help you pinpoint where you are currently in an area of your life versus where you would like to be. I like to think of it as a practical vision board: you can see everything at a glance, and start forming actual goals and plans from there.
Since you’re awesome and I love you, I’ve created a Life Inventory worksheet to help you keep track of everything. You can download and print your own copy of the worksheet, and fill it out as we go along.
Let’s Break it Down
The Life Inventory worksheet is split up into eight sections, and we’re gonna go over them all (so strap in!) Like any kind of self-reflection, there are no right or wrong answers here; while you’re working through your thoughts, go with your gut and ignore the urge to edit yourself too much. Be open and totally honest with yourself, no sugar coating or glossing over any of the not-so-great parts— you’re building a foundation, and you want it to be rock solid.
- How am I feeling lately?
- How do I want to feel?
- How can I improve or maintain my current mood?
- Am I eating right? Getting enough (or any) exercise?
- Am I getting enough sleep?
- What small changes can I make to be healthier?
- Am I spending my money responsibly?
- Are there areas that I could be cutting back or saving more?
- How am I managing my expenses?
- How can I be more productive?
- Can I use my time more efficiently?
- Do I feel valued for the work that I do?
- What do I love to do in my spare time?
- Which skills do I want to learn or improve?
- What relaxes me? What makes me happy?
- Do I make my partner/family/friends feel cared for?
- Do I spend enough time with my partner/family/friends?
- Am I a supportive partner/friend?
- Do I take enough time for myself?
- Am I nice to myself?
- How can I treat myself better?
- What do I want to achieve?
- What does my ideal life look like? How do I get there?
- What small steps can I take today to start working toward my goal?
Yeah, I know— these questions are suuuper generic and probably not mind-blowing. But we’re not out to unlock the secrets of the universe (yet); all we’re trying to do here is find a place to start from. Ask yourself whatever questions you need to have answered, and go from there. Once you’ve figured out both where you’re starting and where you want to end up, the “realistic” part about goal setting suddenly seems a whole lot easier. So go get ’em, tiger.