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Beth Graybill

  /  Articles   /  Need Some Help Setting Goals?

Have you ever set New Years goals with fierce passion, and then abandoned them by mid-February?

Me too. That’s why the older independent spirit inside of me just refuses to give in to the goal “fads” of January.

But make no mistake, goals are important. Personal goals and professional goals provide much needed direction for your life.

If you have a hard time setting goals, then think about it this way: What do you want people to say about you at the end of your life? How do you want your friends, family and community to describe the way you lived your life?

Most of us what to be remembered by who we are, not necessarily by what we do. And yet we spend so much of our time focusing on the “doing” part of life.

Andy Stanley, a well-known pastor and leadership author, often says, “It’s always a mistake to decide what you’re going to DO before you decide who you’re going to BE.”

We can live some of the most productive and successful years of our lives and still feel like a failure on the inside when we go on without goals that focus on our being.

So if you still need to set some goals or realize you need a few being goals, here’s a little exercise for you.

Stephen Covey called this the “Obituary Exercise” but I like to call it the “End of Life Exercise.”


  • Think about the end of your life. Who are the people you would want to speak at your memorial service: your parents, a teacher, a friend, your spouse, your kids, a favorite boss? What do you hope they say about you?
  • Make a list of the words you hope will describe you and the way you lived your life: “Thoughtful, Strong, Caring, Supportive, Present, Loving, Others-focused, Determined, Focused, Intentional” . . .  and so on. Keep it realistic (try for less than 10).
  • Look at each word, and ask yourself: “Why is this word important? What is at stake if I don’t accomplish this?” Take some time to jot down quick answers to these questions.
  • Then turn these answers into goals. How will you be thoughtful at home and at work? How will you care about those around you? How will you use your focus to create change in the world?
  • Post those words and your goals where you will see them everyday. Then share them with a family member, a co-worker or a trusted friend. Use these words as the filter for how you make daily decisions and how you live your life this year.

Well done! You just created your own being goals.