We’re taught to chart objectives for our life paths, but sometimes – no matter how carefully we plan – we land up somewhere very different from the place we envisaged. While some of us may be surprised to realise that we’re exactly where we need to be, others may succumb to a sense of failure.

“If we hold onto what we think we should have, or compare ourselves with others, we’re likely to feel as if we’ve fallen short of our goals,” says clinical psychologist Dr Sherona Rawat. “A delay or setback in one goal shouldn’t be the end of us, though. We should have many goals – and we should gauge the progress of each of them as we move along so that if we feel we’ve failed in one, there are still other areas of success to tide us over.”

Setting meaningful, but flexible goals, while recognising that we can only control so much, is key to finding peace with wherever we find ourselves, and moving forward positively.

Why set goals?

Every aspect of life contains an element of risk – no matter how concise your goals are, there’s no eliminating uncertainty. Yet that’s not to say there’s no place for planning.

“Setting goals gives us direction,” says Rawat. “Our destination may change over time, but in order to be productive and successful, we must have a constructive direction to follow. What we focus on will manifest. The universe works to fulfil our destiny and our goals are the seeds that lead us towards it.

“When we take the time to set goals, we gain clarity. In that way, we begin to focus our energy on those goals, lighting our road to the attainment of our dreams.”

If the goals you’re formulating are simply a response to societal expectations or peer pressure, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. To ensure your goals are achievable, align them with your values and life vision, says coach, entrepreneur, author, speaker and founder of Fullife Coach, Jacqui O’Bree.

“If you’re setting goals for the wrong reasons, such as your parents or your husband telling you what you should do, it will be hard to keep yourself motivated. When we have a personal reason that resonates deep within us, it’s much easier to motivate ourselves to action and persist in the face of obstacles,” she says.

“You need to believe in your vision and your goals in  order to achieve them and attract success into your life.”