How to Use Your Enneagram Type to Actually Achieve the Goals You Set, in 2021 and Beyond!

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on December 30, 2020

Given the stress and uncertainty 2020 has brought, the idea of setting goals for the new year might make you want to burrow into a hole.

When you’re taught to set and pursue goals just one way, instead of what’s best for your personality type, it’s easy to feel anxious, apathetic, or discouraged. It’s no wonder why 92% of people who set New Year’s goals end up abandoning them—they’re working against their unique personality type, not with it. 

This is where the Enneagram personality test becomes your best friend. Using this incredible self-awareness tool highlights your motivation, strengths, and blind spots to help you set goals rooted in fulfillment and purpose over busyness and constant production.  

Previously, we looked at the most soul-nourishing intentions for your Enneagram type. Now we’re going to drill a little deeper and look at how you can set specific goals within that framework that you’ll actually stick to.

Type One: The Perfectionist

Enneagram Type Ones are motivated by the need to be good, virtuous, and right. They are conscientious, improvement-oriented, and driven by their personal values. 

Where goal-setting is challenging: 

  • Focusing on goals you think are “right” rather than what you actually want -- e.g. work before play!
  • Tending to think in black and white, leading to rigidity in plans
  • Spending too much time mulling over details 
  • Putting too much pressure on yourself to do everything 
  • Having your inner critic go into overdrive when things don’t go according to plan

Tips for setting better goals:

  • Talk your goals out before writing them out
  • Notice where you can take a load off and delegate
  • Set goals in alignment with your values to stay focused on the big picture
  • Create a plan for when you get trapped in the details, i.e. “if I find myself getting hung up here, I will do this instead…”
  • Set a goal around keeping your inner critic in check—that could be a once-a-week digital detox or scheduling a play date with yourself to get out of your head  
  • Set a reminder to check in on your goals as often as you see fit to adjust as necessary, knowing it’s okay to change course 

Type Two: The Giver

Enneagram Type Twos are motivated by the need to be appreciated, loved, and wanted. They are people-pleasing, empathetic, and driven by their strong relationships.

Where goal-setting is challenging: 

  • Goals feel impersonal making them easy to abandon
  • Getting sidetracked with personal life, such as someone needing your help
  • Repressing your needs makes it difficult to identify or articulate what you want
  • Feeling anger or frustration when something becomes overwhelming
  • Seeking everyone else’s approval 

Tips for setting better goals:

  • Connect your goals to something community-oriented so they become more meaningful
  • Set goals around developing passions/hobbies to explore your own interests
  • Identify what you want beyond the surface—look at anger/frustration as an invitation to explore more
  • Listen to yourself with an open heart instead of writing off what you want as selfish
  • Space out your goals so you can strike a balance between relationships, self-development, hobbies, and career
  • Set a goal around nourishing your body with healthy snacks and plenty of water—this goes a long way for your physical and mental state!

Type Three: The Achiever

Enneagram Type Threes are motivated by success, admiration, and feeling valued. Given they are ambitious and adaptable, “goals” are a natural part of Three’s vocabulary. 

Where goal-setting is challenging: 

  • You start fast and crash fast
  • You may be out of touch with who you are beyond what you do
  • Focusing on goals that make you look good rather than exploring what’s important to you
  • Putting relationships and mental health on the backburner
  • Going into overdrive then numbing out with distracting behaviors

Tips for setting better goals:

  • Redefine success outside of your achievements
  • Avoid setting goals around competing with others—instead, set a goal helping others with a volunteer opportunity that you do from your heart
  • Set one clear goal at a time as opposed to multiple to stay connected to your vision 
  • Ask why a goal is important to you, then ask again, and again
  • When you feel yourself rushing, check in with what is really driving your anxiety
  • Prioritize balance and rest, knowing time away will help you feel more refreshed 

Type Four: The Individualist

Enneagram Type Fours are motivated by authenticity and individual expression. They are introspective, creative, and love the idea of possibilities.

Where goal-setting is challenging:

  • Longing for something incredible and profound but not knowing how to start
  • Living in your fantasies can be better than reality
  • Feeling uninspired to do tedious or monotonous work 
  • Starting out passionate and inspired then becoming apathetic or depressed 
  • Getting bogged down by comparing yourself to others

Tips for setting better goals:

  • Create a vision board to help you flesh out your big picture idea—go back to this when feeling discouraged 
  • Dedicate your time to a creative project where you can connect to your originality and channel your emotions (without the pressure of showing it to others)
  • Focus on habit-setting goals as opposed to results-driven goals (i.e. coffee and emails, affirmations first thing in the morning)
  • Create subtasks that don’t feel overwhelming
  • Give meaning to the mundane tasks - how will the outcome make you feel?
  • Celebrate even the smallest of progress to keep positive momentum going 

Type Five: The Investigator

Enneagram Type Fives are motivated by being competent and having everything they need. Curious and independent, they seek a deeper understanding of the world around them.

Where goal-setting is challenging:

  • Spending more time thinking and planning than taking action
  • Getting overwhelmed by everything you want to do
  • Feeling scatterbrained when a goal isn’t clear 
  • Wanting to do everything alone
  • Either staying in your comfort zone or over-pursuing something in extensive detail

Tips for setting better goals:

  • Set process-oriented goals that align with your big picture to clarify little steps to take 
  • Even if you don’t have all the details or knowledge yet, you probably know more than you think. Prioritize getting your voice out there, whether it’s through social media, a podcast, or workshop that you host (you develop more confidence this way!)
  • Block out time dedicated to specific tasks 
  • Set a goal that feels like a stretch to challenge you to think in a new way
  • Bounce ideas off of someone who shares similar passions 

Type Six: The Skeptic

Enneagram Type Sixes are motivated by security and feeling supported by their community. They are responsible, practical, and honor their commitments. 

Where goal-setting is challenging:

  • Either being too cautious or overly-ambitious 
  • Doubting your own abilities or positive outcomes that could happen
  • Asking too many opinions 
  • Wanting 100% certainty before moving forward 
  • Getting bogged down by time limits and “what if’s” 

Tips for setting better goals:

  • Consider working with a partner or group where you’re working towards a similar goal or cause
  • Create a structure for your days and projects, as you thrive on process and routine
  • Set goals in small steps so you can avoid feeling like something will go wrong
  • Set self-development goals so you can connect to your inner sense of knowing 
  • Use time limits as a loose structure to avoid feeling pressure 
  • Dedicate a goal to getting out of your comfort zone—however big or small

Type Seven: The Enthusiast

Enneagram Type Sevens are motivated by freedom and experiencing life to the fullest. They are enthusiastic and goal-oriented yet want to avoid feeling tied down. 

Where goal-setting is challenging:

  • Over-committing yourself and losing focus
  • Accomplish things too fast to make room for more opportunities
  • Losing interest when it doesn’t serve your current agenda
  • Becoming impatient when you don’t see results
  • Reframing things instead of taking time to strategize

Tips for setting better goals:

  • Make a list of what you value so you can commit to what’s right for you
  • Outline your goals in order of what’s most important—it’s okay if it’s not linear!
  • Commit to mastering one thing that you’re passionate about
  • Ground yourself in the present by asking yourself what you can manage today
  • Make a list of all the outcomes you’re excited about and revisit this to feel re-inspired (and add to it as necessary!)
  • Remind yourself to slow down, breathe, and check in with your mental state

Type Eight: The Challenger

Enneagram Type Eights are motivated by maintaining control in their lives. As natural leaders, they are assertive, protective, and focused on positive outcomes. 

Where goal-setting is challenging:

  • Doing things in excess and neglecting your physical needs
  • Your all-or-nothing approach gets in the way of important tasks
  • Setting too high of expectations and focusing on results over process
  • When you feel like a goal restricts your freedom
  • Letting go of things no longer serving you

Tips for setting better goals:

  • Assess the root of your goals -- are they coming from a place of wanting to control something or are they fulfilling something deeper within you?
  • Check-in regularly with your own needs and remind yourself that moderation is key
  • Build a network of those who share similar passions while opening your heart to see the best in others
  • Make a list of everything you’re excited about, then break it into actionable chunks
  • Create flexible, process-oriented goals so you have a simple focus rather than taking impulsive action
  • Assess what you need to let go of to spend your energy wisely

Type Nine: The Peacemaker

Enneagram Type Nines are motivated by inner stability and peace of mind. They are easygoing, agreeable, and desire harmony with themselves and the world around them.

Where goal-setting is challenging:

  • Identifying what you need or what to prioritize
  • When people close to you set goals, your goals may unintentionally blend with theirs
  • You procrastinate by keeping busy with other tasks or by shutting down with numbing behaviors
  • Following through and maintaining momentum is difficult
  • The minute something starts feeling like an obligation you get overwhelmed

Tips for setting better goals:

  • Make a list of everything you want to accomplish then rank those things in order of importance 
  • Set stepping stone goals, which are goals within small goals, to create momentum
  • Avoid multitasking or trying to accomplish more than one goal at a time
  • Set goals around exploring your passions and exercise your inner power muscle by taking a stand on something 
  • Have someone hold you accountable but avoid asking their opinion
  • Avoid using time frames to measure your goals and celebrate your progress
Julianne Ishler

Julianne Ishler is a writer, Enneagram coach, and creative mentor. Obsessed with all things personality and storytelling, she helps creatives and entrepreneurs define their voice and feel empowered to follow their own path to live a life of fulfillment. She is based in Chicago and enjoys travel, rainy days, and deep conversations over hot tea.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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