How to change your life

How to Change Your Life: Crafting Purposes and Goals

Monday I shared with you that God has a purpose with your life, and Jesus came to give you abundant life. So it makes sense that we would be careful to live life on purpose so we can enjoy the abundant joy-filled life God created us to live.

Today I’m sharing with you how to create life purposes and goals. Taking 2-3 hours this weekend to craft these statements can literally change your life. It did mine.


It’s a good idea to start big and then drill our way down to the nitty-gritty. Kind of like a funnel. I like to break it down in 4 sections: life purposes, life goals, yearly aims, and mini tasks.

Anne Ortlund’s Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman describes this process in greater detail and Crystal Paine has a very user-friendly description in her book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode:. I recommend you check out both books if you haven’t already; they’re GREAT resources to have on hand.

Here’s the basics:

1. Life Purposes are statements of who you want to BE in life.

Life purposes are specific but hard to measure; they offer an identity and an ideal to strive toward. If you are a Christ-follower, you’ll most likely pull strongly from the character of Jesus Christ when you write this, although other heroes or role models may inform your life purposes as well. (see example below)

As Crystal explains in her book:

Living with purpose means wisely choosing and committing to a few of the best things for the season of life you’re in. These top priorities will comprise what we’re going to call your best stuff list–the list of things you will intentionally wrap your life, time, and energy around right now.
~Crystal Paine

2. Life Goals are statements about what you want to DO in life.

Your life purpose (who you want to be) will inform your life goals. These are your priorities. They’re your “best stuff list.” Consider creating goals for each of the following categories:

  • personal
  • spiritual and emotional
  • family
  • career/ministry
  • friendships

Life purposes are broad statements whereas life goals bring more specificity to the areas we are going to prioritize.

If you’re curious, here’s a look at my life purpose and some of my life goals. I’m constantly reevaluating these statements, because I want to make sure they’re in line with what the Holy Spirit is progressively revealing to me as I journey through life, so these are subject to tweaking down the road:

life purposes and goals

3. Yearly Aims are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound statements based on your life goals.

Yearly aims are smaller goals that you focus on to achieve your life goals/priorities. These may be yearly resolutions, a yearly word (like my One Word for 2014: Intentional) or a bucket list, like my 30 Before 30 list.

Yearly aims help you make progress toward your life goals. I’m a fan of seeing measurable results, and it’s fun to tackle a big challenge once in a while.

4. Mini Tasks are small goals you can accomplish quickly and easily to help you reach your yearly aim.

For example, one of my life goals is “to make healthy choices, devoting my body to serving God and others.” Toward that end, one of my “yearly aims” (in my 30 Before 30 list) is to complete a triathlon. In order to do that, my mini task is to complete the Couch to 5k program, learning to run a 5k in 3 months.

How to Make Life Change that Will Affect Tomorrow… and the Next 60 Years

The major issue with most of our goals is that they don’t reach the heart of the matter. For years I told myself I wanted to lose 10 lbs. But I didn’t. And 90% of Americans who make resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, or get out of debt fail to do so because they’re missing the big picture.

The advantage of starting with life purposes and goals before making yearly aims is that you identify the finish line. It’s easier to wake up at 5 am to read my Bible if I can see past the inconvenience of waking early and focus on my purpose of being transformed into the image of Christ by spending time with Him. That’s a stronger motivator than simply checking a task off my to-do list.

Try It!

This may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Set aside 1-2 hours this weekend to sit down a few blank pieces of paper. (Or check out Crystal’s printable goal-setting worksheets at MoneySavingMom.)
  2. Write down 1-2 life purposes and 4-5 life goals, then break down each life goal into yearly aims and mini tasks.
  3. Keep track of your progress as you get closer to your yearly aims and life goals.
  4. Periodically reevaluate your life purposes and goals and adjust as needed. Remember, this is a guide to help provide direction for your life, not to restrict or confine you. As you grow, your life purposes and goals may change with you.

The End of It All

Every day God gives me is a gift. I don’t deserve it, and I don’t want to take it for granted. I want to do my absolute best with each day He’s given me, so that at the end of my life I can look back without regrets about wasting time on the trivial while neglecting the important.

Creating life purposes and goals has literally changed my life. It’s helped me stay disciplined and intentional in my yearly aims and mini tasks, so that when I stand before my Father, I will hear these blessed words:

Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.
~Matthew 25:21

That’s what I’m living for.

This post is part of The Intentional Life series. Check out the entire series here.


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