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How and Why to Identify Your Life Aspirations

Discover your aspirations and learn how aspirations can help you achieve your dreams.


Aspiration is the driving feeling you get when thinking about what you want to achieve in life. The definition of aspiration is “a strong desire to achieve something high or great” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). You may have heard people say things like “I aspire to be a doctor”, or “I aspire to be a good father”. These statements describe long-term, overarching life goals or desires.

Some aspirations are concrete and achievable, like retiring at 50. Others may be a little more nebulous and harder to measure, such as being a good parent. You can have large aspirations, like becoming a doctor, or smaller aspirations, like running a 5K.

Aspiration is your driving desire to become what you believe you can become.

Aspirations are important because they lead you towards a happy and successful life, whatever that may look like for you. They can also indicate what an individual or a society values most (Hart, 2016). For example, if you aspire to be a good parent, that means your family is important to you. If a society has aspirations of ending homelessness, that means it values and respects its citizens.

Reasons why aspirations are important:

  • Show an individual or society where its priorities are

  • Can be a driver for positive individual life changes

  • Can drive positive societal shifts and changes

  • Promotes psychological health through goal-setting (Hart, 2016).

Figuring out what your aspirations are can inform what kind of goals you set and how you work towards those goals. Aspiration is the driving force that can help you achieve your greatest dreams.

Examples

Each individual person is unique, which means many of our aspirations will be unique as well. The following are examples of general aspirations. Feel free to use these ideas as building blocks and customize them to fit your life.

Financial Aspirations​

  • Making $100,000 a year.

  • Saving money to buy a car.

  • Saving money for a down payment for a house.

  • Starting a savings fund to send your children to college.

Relationship Aspirations

  • Having a strong, communicative relationship.

  • Finding someone you love to spend your time with.

  • Better interpersonal communication with family members and friends.

  • Being the best parent you can be.

Career or Job Aspirations

  • Being a leader or mentor.

  • Completing training to become a doctor or lawyer.

  • Becoming a skilled tradesman like a carpenter or electrician.

  • Earning a certification relevant to your job.

Health Aspirations

  • Running a timed race like a 5K or half-marathon.

  • Being able to hike in the mountains.

  • Feeling vibrant and confident in your body.

  • Eating clean with plenty of fruits and vegetables.

If you are still trying to figure out what your aspirations are, think or journal about the following questions. The answers can help lead you toward the things in life you hold most dear. Once you understand that, you can direct your time and energy toward setting and achieving your ultimate goals by defining your aspirations.

What are the three most important areas in your life?

Answers could include marriage, children, career, education, community service, financial security, or anything else important to you.

What do you want to achieve in these areas of your life?

If you listed education, achieving a Masters degree might be an aspiration. If you listed marriage, achieving better communication might be an aspiration. You can build aspirations from things you want to achieve or improve.

How can you achieve these aspirations?

Create small, achievable goals that will bring you closer to achieving your aspirations. Aspirations are meant to be big dreams that usually require much time and effort. Try not to get frustrated if achieving your aspirations feels like a large undertaking.

In Sum

Aspiration is the feeling that drives you to achieve your goals and dreams and shows you where your priorities in life are. Some aspirations may be smaller, like running a 5K, or larger, like saving money to buy a home. You can use your aspirations as a driving force behind the pursuit of your ultimate goals and dreams.

If you are having trouble figuring out what your aspirations are, write down the three most important areas of your life, what you want to achieve in those areas, and how you can achieve them. Realizing long-term dreams can take much time and effort–try not to get discouraged when you experience bumps along the road.

References

  • Hart, C. S. (2016). How do aspirations matter? Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 17(3), 324–341.

  • Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Aspiration definition & meaning. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved August 30, 2022.

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