Goal Pyramid

Considering big-picture goals can keep us oriented and directed toward what really matters to us. Building discrete goals can be the best way to ground ourselves. In this activity, there are 3 types of goals.

Top-level goals are like a compass setting or a general direction to take. These are major life-long goals that you feel will be important for your satisfaction with life. There will be many different ways to get there.

  • Examples: Succeeding at work;  Contributing to society; Building a positive legacy; Having a happy family

Mid-level goals are more discrete yet still large goals which can allow you to achieve top-level goals.

  • Examples: Complete more training at work; Help with a community project; Take a family vacation

Low-level goals are specific tasks or things we can actually do in the short-term. A good goal is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable (Something that can be done)
  • Timely
  • Examples: Do 3 hours of learning around a new topic; Get the things on the shopping list; Help your children with their math homework today

Goals reinforce our core values and remind us what is most important to us. When we understand our goals, we also get a strong sense of purpose and identity. The Philosopher Nietzsche said : “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”


Use the following format:

  1. Begin by writing your top-level goals right at the top. Most people have 1-3 of these.
  2. Under each top-level goal, draw mid-level goals that will help you get you there.
  3. Last, draw low-level goals under your mid-level goals. These should change often and be erased once complete.
  4. You can think back to your goal pyramid when you make challenging decisions.
  5. Revise the pyramid often.
  • Low-level goals will change often
  • Top-Level goals may change with big life changes