Create Your Goals List

by ryan on December 13, 2017


Create Your Goals List


Get started by simply listing your goals & Templates


You need to know what you want before you can set a goal to achieve it. Perhaps you have many goals in mind that need to be prioritized so you can focus on the most important one or two. Maybe you are not sure what you want, and you need help getting started.


Let’s start with the basics by establishing what is important to you. Consider what makes you happy, what you want to accomplish, and how you measure your personal success. Perhaps it is by how many friends you have, how much money you have, whether you win at sports, or how much enjoyment you derive from hobbies or other activities. Maybe you like doing volunteer work, helping your kids with school, or watching them succeed at their own goals. Perhaps you want to do better in school yourself, learn better study habits, and earn a high school or college diploma. Do you have aspirations to change your career or move up the ranks with your current employer?

To start the process, make a list of what you want. Brainstorm: write down whatever comes to mind in a simple list. Consider what is important to you in your life personally and occupationally. Consider what you want to have accomplished when you look back one year, three years, and five years from now, and even longer if you wish.

Consider your relationships and the impact you want to have on others, such as your parents, spouse/partner, children, friends, and colleagues. Consider your spiritual, emotional, physical, financial, and other needs. Consider what you enjoy doing and what you want to learn about.

Put your subconscious to work on your goals

Some people find it hard to pin down what they want from life—what goals they want to pursue. The following exercise will add some structure and enlist your subconscious mind to work on it over a few days and nights. This will provide a foundation on which to build your goals.

Day 1 Take thirty to sixty minutes to brainstorm as described above. List what is important to you and what makes you happy. Then set it aside.

Day 2 Just before bedtime, review the list and add any new items. Reflect on it as you fall asleep. Doing this just before bed will put your subconscious to work on it while you sleep.(1)

Day 3 When you first wake up, review the list again and add any new items.

Prioritize your goals

The next step is to start prioritizing your list of goals. Consider the following three questions for each item on your list. Answer with your first impression; you can change it later if needed.

1) What is its importance to you? Mark H, M, or L for High, Medium, or Low.

2) How much effort will it take? Mark E, I, or D for Easy, Intermediate, or Difficult.

3) What is the target completion date? Indicate a specific date, such as 11/15/2018.

Goals List

The table below provides a template you can use to list your goals with the answers to the three prioritization questions. You can easily copy it on paper or create a computer spreadsheet for straightforward editing and sorting. There is a Goal List document available here.

Goal ListNow you have a good starting point. Your Goal List indicates which goals are most important to you, how much effort it will take to achieve them, and when you need to accomplish them. You have established a foundation for deciding which ones you want to work on first.

Review and update your Goals List

Your goals are not carved in stone. If your life changes, or if you simply change your mind, update your goals to reflect those changes. Once or twice a year—more if you are so inclined—review your goals list and update it to reflect any changes. Mark off the ones you have completed, reassess those that are still a work in progress, and add any new goals that you have identified. This is a tool to help you achieve what you want out of life. The more you use it, the better you will get at using it, and the better it will serve you.


You are encouraged to consider your holistic(2) perspective for the short and long term to define and prioritize your goals. A Goal List template is provided to organize your goals with their prioritization criteria. Use the suggested brainstorming exercise to get started, and update the Goal List to reflect changes in your life.

There are many videos and eBooks on How to Define SMART Goals, and they provide more detail and a list of example goals to help you get started defining your goals.


(1) Have you ever gone to bed with a problem on your mind and woken up in the morning with an answer? Your subconscious mind works day and night in the background. You are going to take advantage of that while working to define and prioritize your goals.

(2) “Holistic” means characterized by the view that a whole system of beliefs must be analyzed rather than simply its individual components.

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