A recent article by Ali Hale over at Pick the Brain really got me thinking about my goals. Previously, I had considered myself to have a reasonable number of goals. I had divided them into four major “streams” that were complementary giving me a handful of attainable goals. However, after reading the article and giving it some thought, I realized that I actually have way too many. Granted, four streams of accomplishment only yielded 5 major goals, but when added to the goals I have in other areas of my life like family and health, I realized I was easily topping a dozen goals or more.

Clearly, when I consider everything, that’s way too many. But I actually want to accomplish all this stuff so what could I do? Sure, I could put some of those goals on hold but I’m a big believer in at least trying to lead a balanced life and putting a subset of goals on hold would cause me to become majorly unbalanced.

Two Tiers for Clarity

I decided to use a two tier system of goals instead. Basically, I’ve picked one or two primary goals from each of the major areas of my life: Family, Health, Personal/Spiritual, Career/Financial, Recreation and Social. This list is a little different from what most people use but it works for me. The four streams I mentioned earlier focused primarily on Personal/Spiritual and Career/Financial and it’s in those areas that I have also specified secondary goals resulting in a two tier system. What that means for me is when deciding between two (or more) activities that work towards a goal, I can easily determine which is more important by whether it advances a primary goal or a secondary goal.

For the most part, I now have one goal per area except in a couple areas where it would be counter-productive to choose one over the other. For example, in the family area, I think it would be bad to focus on the relationships with my children over the relationship with my spouse or vice versa. Those two goals need to be on equal footing. I suppose I could combine those goals into one simple goal of working on relationships with all my family members but each aspect requires different actions and I find it easier to balance them if I think of them separately.

Does It Work?

I’ve only recently re-examined my goals and re-prioritized them so I don’t know how this is going to work out in the long run but I’ve already seen some positive effects. Last night, instead of getting flustered by all the career goals I have and deciding to work on goals in a totally different area (which happens way too often), I focused on building my tech career. To that end, I set up another blog to deal specifically and only with technology related material. In the past I’ve waffled over whether to write about tech stuff here or maybe start another blog or just not write about it at all. By picking just one of the career/financial streams, I have been able to focus on the actions that will allow me to accomplish that particular goal more quickly.

Your Turn

If you’ve been having trouble getting focused, I suggest you give some thought to which goals in any particular area are the most important to you and/or provide the most value and work on those first. How do you handle too many goals? What other strategies have you found useful?

- Dave