Can Goal-Setting and Contentment Co-Exist?

I’ve been contradicted lately and have had difficulty deciding where I land.

I’m a goal setter, a list maker, a dreamer. I’m always thinking about what’s next for me and my family. I also find that I’m happiest when I have something to look forward to – a weekend get-away, a date night with my hubby, or a holiday with family.

Here’s my contradiction: while I am planning for the future, am I content with what I have now? Honestly, I’m not sure that I can say ‘yes’ to that question, at least not 100% of the time. Possibly not even 50% of the time.

While I think that goal setting and planning is healthy, it also can become a disease that suffocates your ability to be fully content with what you already have. You know, the ol’ “I’ll be happier when…” trap.

I’ll be happier when:
…we have a larger disposable income.
…our kitchen is remodeled.
…I’m working from home.

I’ve often heard that if you can’t find contentment in what you already have today, then you probably won’t ever find contentment, no matter what goals you reach.


Here’s the thing: I’m not going to stop setting goals, making lists, and dreaming about our future. It’s just part of who I am and isn’t reasonable for anyone, really, to avoid altogether.

I just need to be careful that while I’m planning all of these happy, exciting things for our future, I’m enjoying all of the happy, exciting things that are happening right. now.

While I am dreaming about vacations we’ll take when our kids are older, I need to relish that TODAY I get to enjoy hearing Nolan’s first words and phrases, precious words that will soon become an ordinary, everyday thing.

While I am planning how we’re going to meet our financial goals, I’m going to appreciate that TODAY we are working together as a team to meet this goal in every small decision we make.

While I’m running around the kitchen like a crazy lady trying to put together a healthy meal, I’m going to take a minute to appreciate the laughter I get to enjoy TODAY as my boys chase each other around the house. Because I know there will come a day when I’m making dinner without this precious background noise. {Better yet, maybe we’ll just have to eat dinner late some evenings because, heck, I want to join in on that laughter. After all, my kids won’t remember that they ate a healthy home-cooked dinner on time. They’ll remember that mom liked to get down on the floor and play with them.}


Balance isn’t something that you can check off of a list. “Oh, whew, I’ve found balance in my life. Next!” Rather it’s something that we always need to be spot checking. I think the only way to achieve any level of balance is to simply be aware that it is just part of everyday life.

It’s also important to realize that we are ALL struggling and working toward achieving balance. It might look like your girlfriend has it all together and has a perfect life, but deep down you know that she’s facing her own challenges and imbalance as well.

Live Today

Balanced Goal-Setting

So when I’m struggling with being content with today, maybe it’s as simple as taking a minute to analyze tomorrow’s goals and see what can be done to take even the smallest step toward finding joy today.

  • Long term goal: Save up to go on a vacation to Disney World.
    • Today: Read a Disney book or watch a Disney movie with my kids.
  • Long term goal: Work from home
    • Today: Pick a paint color for the home office.
  • Long term goal: Build up savings account.
    • Today: Make (cost-effective) peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and have a picnic in the living room with the kids.

Contentment takes work and practice. Honestly, it’s not something that comes naturally for me and so I need to make sure that I’m consciously seeking joy and appreciation in what I have today. It takes effort.

So, yes, I think goal-setting and contentment can co-exist. But, for me, I need to continually spot-check to make sure that while I dream about tomorrow, I’m also finding joy in today.


  1. Mommalina says:

    I couldn’t agree more or said it better. Proud of you!

  2. I am so very proud,,,you are so wise,Katie. Wish I had that wisdom at your age.

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