father with children sunset 2

It’s January and every coach and trainer is talking about setting goals for the new year.

This is not going to be your standard post about how goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based).


Those things are good, but not very inspiring.

It’s also not about writing your goals down and sharing them with an accountability partner. Also good.

We’re going deeper today, much deeper.

The one thing your goal must include is a strong emotional purpose.

Your emotional purpose is your …

  • Tug-at-the-heartstrings reason for doing what you do
  • Intestinal fortitude to persevere when you’re ready to give up on your goal two months into the year and start over next year
  • Infusion of purposeful passion
  • Driving force that helps you overcome obstacles
  • Big picture motivation that’s bigger than you and your personal gain

Your emotional purpose will have a significant impact not only on this particular goal, but on the rest of your life.

It will do more to help you achieve your goals than any other factor.

I guarantee it.

Lofty claims? Yes, and that’s the power of attaching an emotional purpose to your goal.

Every time I’ve achieved anything meaningful and significant, it was because I had a strong emotional purpose for doing so.

So what exactly is an emotional purpose?

Let me give you some examples to illustrate:

1. The middle-aged guy whose goal was to become a six-figure freelance writer, but not for the money. His main purpose (his emotional purpose) was to be able to take more than three weeks of vacation a year so he and his wife could travel abroad to see family for the first time in eleven years.

2. The college student whose goal was to make $20,000 in one summer. Not to pay for his last year of school, although that was part of it. His emotional purpose was simply to make his parents proud that he hadn’t borrowed a single dime over the four years.

3.  The young guy who was once terrified of public speaking who joined Toastmasters, but not to do better at his job or in social situations. The emotional purpose for joining was so he could one day give a eulogy for a loved one in a church packed full of mourners.

4. The father of four kids closing in on college over a five-year period, who started a new business to help pay for it all. The goal was to make a lot of money. The purpose was to set an example for his kids, to inspire them to go after their own dreams, too.

Are you starting to see what an emotional purpose is? It has to be bigger than yourself, more than material or financial gain, and deeper than ordinary motivations.

By the way, all four of those scenarios above are about me at different stages of my life. And in all four I hit the goal I set for myself, in large part, I believe, because of having an emotional purpose attached.

When you try to establish what your emotional purpose will be, think of someone you love. Think about a cause you’re passionate about, how you can make a difference in this world, and how you want to be remembered after you’re gone (because, yes, the effects of you hitting your goal could have long-lasting implications).

Tie your emotional purpose to one or more of those four things, and you’ll succeed wildly.

I guarantee it.

What’s one of your goals for 2019, and your emotional purpose for hitting it? I’d love to hear from you.

Steve Roller

Author Steve Roller

I'm a business coach, author, copywriter, world traveler (33 countries on five continents so far), and professional speaker. In addition to helping companies get more customers and make more money, I help other writers create profitable businesses. I offer one-on-one coaching, professional copy critiques, and live, in-person business-building workshops. When I'm not writing, coaching, or speaking, I enjoy nothing more than hanging out with my wife and four kids and planning my next adventure.

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Join the discussion 23 Comments

  • Great story, Steve. My goal is to make 6 figures in a year and the emotional purpose is to support my daughter. She enters college in 2016. I am just not sure if the goal, emotional purpose and even the know-how is enough.

    I have been freelancing since 2011 and I am starting to believe it takes something more, something I am not privy to.

    • Steve Roller says:

      Good goal and purpose, Tyjuana. I don’t know that it takes something you’re not privy to, as far as information. It does take a high level of skill, though. All the goal-setting and purpose-driven life stuff won’t get you there if you don’t have an in-demand skill that people are willing to pay you good money for. And you need a system for getting those clients to come to you so you’re not spending all your time chasing them.

      I would say keep building your skills and your systems, and in the meantime, get that goal and purpose burning in your heart so that nothing gets in the way of making it happen. I like that you have two and a half years before your daughter goes off to college – takes the pressure off of having to make it all happen this coming year. Best wishes.

      Let’s connect early in the new year, Ty.

  • Terry says:

    Great post, now I know what the missing ingredient in my goals. No wonder I was always feeling ‘drag’.

    My goal is to make 10k per month and my emotional purpose is to transfer my children to a better school and take a vacation abroad in 2014.

    Thanks for this post 🙂

    • Steve Roller says:

      Good goal and purpose, Terry. When it’s for someone else and something that will have such a profound impact on their future, you’ve nailed it. Now work backward, break it down as to exactly what activity you need daily, weekly, and monthly to hit $10k/month. Keep me posted on things!

  • Terr says:

    Hey Steve!

    While I’m still trying to wrap my mind around a monthly goal, I definitely have an emotional purpose: I want to travel and live internationally. I want to make new, rich friendships around the world. I want to experience new scenery with my own eyes, instead of through a television show. Most important, I want to share all this with a loving partner who is willing and able to travel with me.

    I needed this post. I worry so much about money and when the focus is money well…I tend to get off my real focus. Thanks Steve! 🙂

    • Steve Roller says:

      You’re welcome, Terr. Great emotional purpose! I love it, and it’s similar to mine. You might want to focus in even more. Where exactly do you want to travel? Where do you want to live? Who is your ideal friend, or ideal partner? Write these things out in great detail.

      Before my wife and I started dating, I had written out a very lengthy description of what I was looking for in a possible partner for life, and also a description of who I wanted to be for her. A month later Emida and I connected and had a whirlwind courtship, because we both knew that we had found what we were looking for.

      Let me know if there’s anything I can to do help you reach your goals, Terr.

  • I see what you did here.

    I like this and am inspired by it.

  • Jerry Bures says:

    My goal is to be making making on average $4,950 per month from all writing income by July 30th, 2014 (I’ll be 49-1/2 years old). My emotional purpose is to take my family on vacation later next year…it’s been a while (so I hear all the time…=:)

    • Steve Roller says:

      I like it, Jerry. The thing about vacations is the memories last so much longer than anything you could possibly buy for them. Good use of your money.

      I also like your dollar goal amount. Just like if we’re buying something, $4,950 sounds less than $5,000, when it’s an amount you need to hit, $4,950 sounds more doable than $5,000! I have no doubt you’ll do it.

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