Stop Striving for Goals You Can’t Achieve and Create a Lifestyle Instead

“Let’s review your goals.” Something I do with every client during our first coaching session to ensure we’re both clear and aligned with what they want to achieve most during our work together. However, regardless of who I’m working with, people struggle with creating their goals because most people have no idea what a goal is. While you may think you’ve identified your goals for the year – chances are, they aren’t goals. Instead of struggling to achieve your goals, discover why you’ve already achieved them by creating a lifestyle, instead.

Do Any of These Goals Look Familiar?

Let’s look at some common goals, and determine if it’s truly a goal, or something else.

  1. Improve relationships and spend more time with my family and friends.
  2. Exercise and eat healthy.
  3. Find a new hobby.
  4. Become more confident.
  5. Become a better manager and coach.
  6. Hit our year-end sales numbers.
  7. Finish the online course to complete my certification.
  8. Take a family vacation this year.
  9. Make $XXX income by the end of this year.
  10. Lose ten pounds.

If we were to review these goals – they may look like a goal, they may sound like a goal, they may even feel like goals. However, only goals numbered 6-9, with a little refinement, are actual goals.

Then if there not goals, what are they? A lifestyle.

Here’s where people get stuck and what gets in the way of setting proper goals and achieving them, while honoring their values and priorities today. They don’t understand the difference between a goal, and a lifestyle, and the relationship they have with each other.

You achieve a goal but you create a lifestyle.


The Formula for a Well-Crafted Goal

Let’s start with identifying what a well-crafted goal looks like.

It’s a simple formula. Your goals need to be specific, measurable, and have a deadline associated to it. Let’s take these 11 “goals” and assess whether it’s a goal, or something else.


When a Goal Isn’t A Goal and Why You’ve Achieved Them

With all the goals I listed, only four made it through the goal assessment and are, in fact, goals.

From the Sidelines: I suggest every goal you create have a deadline of one year or less. Reason being, once your goals go beyond one year, they start moving into what would be part of your vision, which is the visual picture you paint of your ideal life.

Goals with a Deadline of One Year or Less:

  1. Hit our year-end sales numbers.
  2. Finish the online course to complete my certification by October.
  3. Take a family vacation by the end of the year.
  4. Make $XXX income by the end of this year.

Do they pass the goal test? Lets see. Note what each goal here has in common.

  1. They are specific.
  2. They are measurable.
  3. They have a timeline/deadline attached to the goal that does not extend beyond a year, which is a goal setting best practice.

If you look at the other goals listed, while these are things you may want to achieve and bring into your life, they don’t pass the goal test and in fact, are lifestyles rather than goals.

  1. Improve relationships and spend more time with my family and friends.
  2. Exercise and eat healthy.
  3. Find a new hobby.
  4. Become more confident.
  5. Become a better manager and coach.


The Anatomy of a Lifestyle

So then, what’s the difference between a goal and a lifestyle? Lifestyles are different because it’s the style of life you choose to live every day, for the rest of your life, without an endpoint. It’s the activities you put in your day that create your quality of life today.

As such is something that who you are vs what you do and as such a key value and component in your life.

A lifestyle:

  1. Doesn’t have an endpoint or deadline.
  2. Aren’t measurable.
  3. Are things you want in your life today, tomorrow, and always, that are consistent and never-ending.

As an example, exercising and eating healthy is not a goal. It’s a Lifestyle because it’s something that never ends and you want to be part of your life and routine forever, not just for now or for defined period of time.

It’s your way of taking care of yourself and practicing extreme self-care.

Your lifestyle is the style of life you want to create. Said a different way, think about a typical day, from the time you wake up until you end your day. Now, consider that what you put into your day, creates the lifestyle you live today.

It’s the style of life you choose to live every day. And what do routinely, at some consistent interval creates the quality of your life. That’s why most of the things that we want to create are not goals but more of the life you want to create for yourself not at some point in the future but today.


What’s the difference between a lifestyle and a goal? Your goals focus on WHAT you need to do to achieve or create more in a measurable period of time and what you want to achieve tomorrow. Your lifestyle focuses on WHO you are and how you live your core values and honor your priorities today, and forever. A lifestyle never ends.


How about the goal of maintaining or improving relationships whether it’s with your boss, peers, coworkers, direct reports, family, or friends? Is this a goal or a lifestyle?

Let’s check. Does this have a specific and measurable deadline associated to it, where once you improve your relationships, you’ll stop? Of course not.

That’s why this is not a goal but a lifestyle. It’s an activity and priority that never ends which creates the quality of your life.


Goal or Lifestyle. What if it’s Both?

Okay, so you may have a goal of wanting to exercise, eat healthy and lose 10 pounds in three months. Is this a goal, or is this a lifestyle? It’s both, and here’s why.

First, it starts as a measurable goal, that is, losing ten pounds in three months. It’s specific, measurable, and has a deadline.

However, there’s more to this goal. Sure, losing ten pounds is specific and measurable. However, after you lose the weight, are you going to stop the healthy living habits you created to move back to unhealthy habits and start eating more ice cream and potato chips?

Of course not. That’s why while, this may start as a goal, with an endpoint, it then moves into maintenance mode, that is, your lifestyle.


Your daily routine influences you’re actions. Your actions shape your results. And your results determine your success. That’s why: If you want a great life, schedule one.


You’re Already an Overachiever – Aligning Your Goals with Your Lifestyle

Take the time to create, then evaluate your goals so you can assess whether it’s a goal that’s aligned around your priorities and core values, a lifestyle, or both, so that you can now plan and schedule how these things show up in your daily routine. And here’s great news! Now that you know the distinction between a goal and a lifestyle, you may notice that you deserve a congratulations! Since once you’ve evaluated your goals, you’ll notice you’ve already achieved most of them.