First, you need a limited list of current and most important goals. But let's not forget the "bucket list."
How many goals should you set?
That’s a great question and the answer is …
First, I believe, and the research I’ve read supports the idea, that we need a limited list of current and most important goals. We need a short list of three-, six- and 12-month goals. These are important goals that can help move us forward in the various areas of our lives. Since our brains can only focus on a certain number of things anyway, having this short list is important, allowing us to take daily or regular action in pursuit of the goals and stay focused on what is most important.
I believe we need a big lifetime list, too.
This idea became popular with the movie “The Bucket List.” In this movie, if you haven’t seen it, two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-do’s before they die. What the men do isn’t exactly what I’m talking about, but it is close.
Too often, people speak of a bucket list as a list of things they want to do “someday.” In the movie, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman do take action but they’ve waited until they were terminally ill before getting started.
The bigger life list of goals may include specific things to do (like take my mom to the Kentucky Derby) and also bigger items on your life-course. I suggest you sit down and write your life goal list. Think big and let your mind go. Write down your heart’s desires. Then look at the list regularly — this review allows you to shape and add to the list, but also gets your subconscious working on them in ways you couldn’t imagine consciously.
Then, as you are adding or updating your shorter goal list, consult this big list. If you don’t ever move items from the big list to the shorter term, the list is of less value and is truly only a wish list.
How many goals should you have?
As many as you want. But keep your focus on a few meaningful ones at any given time. With this dual-goal approach you will achieve more of them faster than with any other method.