Take a moment to make a list of your top three life goals. These can be in any areas of your life: relationships, career, health, spirituality, etc.
Got your list? Perfect.
Now, most of the things on that list aren’t actually goals, but strategies. For example, many people would say they have a goal of making more money, but really the goal is the feeling of security and comfort that comes from making more money. So making more money—by getting a promotion, adding a side hustle, or switching to a more lucrative industry—is actually the strategy, not the goal.
Or maybe you listed a more personal goal, like being in a serious relationship and/or getting married eventually. But again, this is a strategy. The goal might be a feeling deep connection, mutual inspiration, and emotional security. Having a long-term relationship is a strategy to get you closer to those goals.
So what’s the difference, exactly, between a goal and a strategy?
- A goal is the feeling you ultimately want from the thing you’re seeking. Ask yourself, “How will I feel when this happens?” The answer to that question becomes your new goal.
- A strategy, then, is the path required to get there. Your strategies could include action steps, milestones, or events that need to happen in order for you to achieve that goal.
When you’re clear on the difference between your goals and strategies, you’ll be more in touch with the big-picture purpose of what you’re striving for. So many people keep pushing toward their goals and then don’t understand why they’re not satisfied or happy once they achieve them. Redefining your goals according to how you want to feel is the best preventative medicine for this pervasive syndrome.
Now go back to your list and consider each goal according to this new definition. Rewrite your goals so that they evoke a feeling, not just an action step or something you hope will happen.
Here’s the cool part about this exercise. Once you get in touch with what your goals truly are—that is, how you want to ultimately feel—you’ll realize that the strategies you listed aren’t the only ways to achieve that goal. In fact, anything that makes you feel the way you want to feel is a valid strategy. So start to consider all the things in your life that are already helping you reach your goals. You might end up with several strategies for each goal, and that’s actually the most stable approach.
I’ve used this exercise with nearly all of my coaching clients, and it’s been extremely enlightening for them to get clarity on their true goals and desired feelings. Once you adopt this shift in perspective, you’ll find that it takes the pressure off of one particular event (getting married, landing your dream job, etc.) to make you happy and fulfilled. All of a sudden, you start finding ways to feel your desired feelings on a daily basis so you can stop waiting for fill-in-the-blank to feel amazing.
If you’re feeling inspired, leave a comment with your rewritten list of goals in the comments below.
What are your goals this fall?
Ask Katie Schloss, Levo mentor and Creative Director and President at Three Jane by Katie Schloss, about how she sets goals and strategies for herself!