The Key Elements of an Ideal Life

Goal Setting SuccessThis post is part one in the Goal Setting Success series.

What makes life worth living?

What is so important to you that it is absolutely essential for an ideal life?

The answers to these questions point to your Key Elements — the fundamental drivers for everything that you do.

Why You Do the Things You Do

Your Key Elements drive you whether you are aware of them or not.

Key Elements of an Ideal Life
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As you look back over your life, you will begin to see patterns emerge around certain elements. Many begin to surface around adolescence. Others have been with you for as long as you can remember.

These elements may manifest as values, passions, hopes, or dreams. They are the basic building blocks of the things you’ve accomplished, and the things you yearn for.

Every time you have a big achievement or feel a deep desire, it can be traced back to one or several of your Key Elements.

Start with the Basics

Like most things in life, the more you’re aware of something, the better your chances are to utilize it. Knowing those deep drivers is crucial to setting goals that are achievable. The more closely your goals tie back to your Key Elements, the more likely you will reach them (and in most cases, exceed them).

So the first step in the Goal Setting Success process is to identify and really understand your Key Elements.

The easiest way to identify them is to look for patterns in your life. See where they have been influencing your actions, and use those actions as clues.

Some are obvious. For example, if “family” is one of your Key Elements, you can see how you’ve made most decisions in your life based on “family.”

Take some time to sit quietly and reflect on the major decisions and turning points in your life. Look for clues as to what may have influenced them.

Observe yourself during an average day. What qualities help you make certain decisions?

Some other questions to ask are:

  • What is central to an ideal life?
  • What things make me feel the greatest satisfaction?
  • What part of my life that if taken away, would have the biggest impact?
  • What led me to the friends, groups, clubs, and activities I have chosen throughout my life?
  • Who has had the biggest influence on my life, and what “tags” would I use to identify this person?

As you answer these questions, they will begin to point to your Key Elements. This becomes the foundation for setting goals that aren’t only achievable, but can become almost automatic.

From this foundation, you set your Master Goals. We’ll talk about that in part two.

The Goal Setting Success Series


  1. I’ve heard this idea phrased in a lot of ways before, and I like the way you describe it… a lot of times when people talk about “core values” and such, it makes sense, but having the practical cues (like you do here) really helps.

    I’m itchin’ for Part Two!

  2. Priscilla – Yep. The better we understand why we do things, the easier it is to work with our own internal processes.

    Adam – Thanks. It’s part of who we are, and just using pointers and clues, is a great way to discover those elements.

  3. When I did this same kind of process, I was really surprised at how much the additional question of “the biggest influences” in my life were. The thing they all had in common was that they ENCOURAGED me. Not many people in my life had done that. So, I made a deep commitment to always encourage people, no matter how dark the circumstances may appear. Nice post Tony!

  4. Tony,

    read this article and couldn’t help but share it on my website.

    It is VERY essential for us to understand ourselves before we can achieve anything in life. That is why I have always love Socrates’ “Know Thyself” phrase. Most people don’t really know who they are and they find it difficult to really achieve much in life.

    Thanks for bringing this to light man.

    Love you.


  5. Christine – Excellent point! Encouragement is such a powerful thing. It’s amazing how even just a little, can have such a major positive influence on our goals.

    Adebola – Thanks for sharing it. So many people spend their lives trying to achieve something, without ever taking the time to understand why. The better we understand ourselves, the more successful we can become.

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