The life goal canvas

Investing the time to formulate a long-term vision and associated goals significantly helps you to live with purpose and be more mindful about the way you spend your time day-to-day.

But over time, it’s easy to become distracted or to lose sight of those outcomes and just like a pilot correcting the flight path of an airplane that was blown off-course by strong winds, it is important to be clear on the destination, realise that you have drifted and got yourself back on track as soon as possible.

The Life Goal Canvas is a simple way of keeping your long-term vision and goals clear in your mind for when you need a dose of motivation, inspiration, reassurance or some guidance with an important decision.

It’s pretty simple really. There are five sections:

  • 1 x vision summary
  • 4 x goal themes

And these sections are laid out like this:

Life goal canvas

The vision summary

With just a couple of sentences, concisely summarise your overall vision of what your life will be like in ten years time.

Aim to pull out the most poignant aspects of your vision and make it compelling to read (don’t worry if it isn’t at first, as it will take a couple of drafts to get it right).

Remember, this is going to be your North Star, so make sure you take the time to draft and re-draft until you get it right.

Goal themes

Hanging off your vision will be your goal themes. The reason I’m describing them as ‘goal themes’ and not just ‘long-term goals’ is due to the duration of time.

A goal should be very specific, but for certain types of goals over a long period of time it can be hard to be so precise. Themes on the other hand can be a bit more vague and non-specific.

They also provide more latitude for change, whilst still setting the direction of travel and this is important as things are bound to change over a period of several years.

Each theme can then house a number of closely-related goals.

I’ve always recommended limiting the number of goals you work on at one time to a maximum of three or four to avoid diluting your focus. The canvas has space for four goal themes, but you don’t have to use all of them if you don’t want to.

The goal themes I’ve used in the sample canvas are:

  • Family
  • Health
  • Career
  • Financial

But it is entirely up to you if you want to go with different themes, such as:

  • Travel
  • Knowledge / learning
  • Adventure
  • Charity
  • Spiritual

When adding a goal theme, again keep it concise and punchy. You might have more details written down elsewhere in a long-form version, but the words on the canvas must be something you can read in seconds to remind yourself of where you want to be.

It is also very helpful (but optional) to explain why this goal is so important to you. Knowing the motivating factors behind a goal really helps to determine if it is actually something you want to put time and effort into achieving.

Creating your canvas

I used Powerpoint to produce my canvas, but the format is so simple you can use a wide range of apps and make it as pretty or as plain as you like.

Looking at it every day

Once you’ve created your canvas, put it somewhere you’ll see it every day. I saved mine as PNG image onto my laptop, so I see it every day as a reminder.

Making it work for you

The format of this canvas won’t be for everyone. The important thing is the principle of capturing and visualising your destination to keep it in focus. There are plenty of other ways or formats for doing this too, such as the one-page-personal-plan; it’s really just a case of experimenting to see what works best for you.

Good luck 🙂