African American woman writing down her goals and smiling

5 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important

Updated May 2, 2021 . AmFam Team

It's important to set goals to measure your progress towards achieving your dreams. Learn all about why you should set goals — with American Family Insurance.

To-do lists are great, many of us use them every day. They give us a roadmap of the things we’re expecting to accomplish in the near future. If you’re not in the habit of making lists at the start of each day, you may not understand why it is important to have goals.

Setting goals allows you to apply focus and direction to the course of your day. And you may find you’re more productive, too. Why are goals important? Simply put, they allow you to focus your attention on an objective and measure your progress along the way.

In many ways, we already know the importance of goal setting — most everyone’s got a “bucket list” of some sort — so, why not put pen to paper and identify exactly what you want to accomplish with your life? Today, let’s explore ways to unlock your true potential by identifying your strengths and setting goals that leverage those skills. You can achieve your dreams, but first, you’ve got to write them down. Here are five reasons why you should set goals, and commit today to building a better future for yourself:

1. Goals Give You Direction

As simple as it sounds, having clear goals helps you create a destination for your dreams — something to aspire to. The real value of setting goals is the focus it affords you in a world otherwise chock-full of distractions. With a clear idea of your objectives, you’ll have more capacity to home in on your target. If you veer off-course, you’ll have your goals written down to help bring you back to center.

Why do we set goals — are they really necessary? You may not think they are at first, that you’ve been able to get the job done without them in the past. But the truth is, with a well-built map detailing what you need to do, you’ll travel towards that destination more efficiently, and likely, much more quickly than you would otherwise.

2. Goal Setting Helps You Identify What’s Important to You

With everyday life pulling us in so many directions, it’s easy to get caught up in the race — and forget altogether where we were headed. The real importance of setting career goals is that it allows you to define what you want to achieve. Consider those things you excel at, for starters. Whether it’s a career goal, one that involves taking your relationship to the next level or finally writing that novel you’ve been thinking about for years, setting a single goal will likely lead to other smaller objectives.

And by aiming towards your passions and things you really want out of life, you're more likely to work hard and make progress. 

3. Setting Goals Helps Us Measure Progress Towards Success

If you’re looking to advance into that next stage of your life and own a home in a few years, setting an end-goal of homeownership can help you carve a path to that end. Why does goal setting lead to success? With a firmly defined objective in place, you’ll be able to see clearly what steps will be necessary to safely get across the finish line.

For instance, you’ll soon realize that if you want to own a home, you’ll may need a mortgage loan. And therefore, you’ll have to start saving now to build up cash you can apply towards a down payment in the future.

And just like that, you’ve got a major goal, and minor goals made up of several smaller objectives, that are now on your radar:

Major goal:

Minor goals:

As you’ll see in the pages linked above, each one of those minor goals contains steps and actions that can be further broken down into daily, weekly and monthly objectives. Why is goal setting important? Goal setting offers you an opportunity to define those smaller steps and use them like the rungs on a ladder as you climb towards a brighter future.

4. Goals Help You Stay Motivated

Realizing your dreams can be a thrilling ride. And what’s most surprising to those that take on the task of setting goals is that things start to happen — the results of that hard work begin to emerge as you move closer towards that vision of a better you. One of the key reasons why goals are important is that you’ll find continued momentum in working towards something you want on a personal level.

Why is it important to set goals for yourself? The payoff comes in many forms, but perhaps the biggest benefit is the psychological shift towards increased positivity that rides in tandem with your dream pursuit. Athletes training for a marathon frequently identify with this outcome, and many are surprised by the way it energizes them. And the can-do attitude that’s built out of accomplishing goals can help re-pattern daily activities that last a lifetime.

5. Setting Goals Keeps You Accountable

After you’ve made your way across the finish line and your goal has been met, you’ll likely find a sense of pride in what you’ve done. The hours of focus and determination can pay off in unexpected ways, too. Of course, one of the key reasons to set goals is to get your life on track. But the real advantage may be hiding in plain sight: the self-satisfaction and the improved positive mental attitude that begins to emerge over time, as you learn to hold yourself accountable and push those limits.

You’ve worked hard in the past studying for a test — with the goal of mastering a new skill or getting that diploma. And the feeling you get after acing that exam or graduating comes with a real sense of personal success.

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