How Your Enneagram Type Impacts How You Set Goals

While training for a half-marathon several years ago, nothing—neither hell nor high water—could prevent me from accomplishing my goal. I ran at 5 a.m. in below freezing temperatures. I ran when my health was not great. I ran when my feet ached and screamed, “Please don’t make us put on those shoes!”

For me, goal-achievement reigns supreme.

And yet, I have friends who’ve never set a goal in their life or who set goals, start out excited, and then let them fizzle by February.

What gives?

Our personality type directly impacts our desire and ability to set and achieve goals.

For the personality-typing system, I used the Enneagram, an ancient system whose purpose is to help us understand what makes us tick. 

Here’s a breakdown of how all nine Enneagram types view goals and a few healthy habits to help you break out of your rut.

Unsure of your Enneagram type? Here are resources to help you assess, or go here for a brief description of each type.

Please know that I’m not an Enneagram expert, merely a lover of it. What I present to you is based on my research on the Enneagram, feedback from women in each type, and peer review.

There are helpful habits for each type, you can get a copy of them here.

Learn better through audio? Head  to the The Christian Woman Leader Podcast to hear me explain each type.

Type Eight: The Challenger

How do you view goals? Challengers like goals because they provide a clear vision. Unlike Perfectionists, you focus more on the end result and desired outcome than the details, and your outcome tends to focus on justice and fairness.

Do you set goals? You do, but you hate goals that are overly-detailed and restrict your freedom. You make decisions quickly and from your gut. Challengers are quick to adjust goals to help better accomplish the desired outcome.

How do you accomplish your goals? Quickly and with 100% effort because you’re not one to do things half way. You tend to go it alone in goal accomplishment because it’s hard for you to trust people.

How do goals make you feel? Feel? What do goals have to do with feelings? You get stuff done. End of story.

Healthy habits for the Challenger
1. Because you act from your gut and go full-speed ahead, slow down and ask God what His plans and desires are for you as you set your goals.


2. Ask yourself if your goals are your way of controlling your environment or if they’re based on something deeper and more in alignment with Christ’s plans for you.


3. Ask God how you can use your gifts and tender heart, the one you hide, to impact the world for His kingdom.


4. Ask if your goals are simply about challenging the status quo or are goals you care deeply about.

5. Remember that Jesus is your protector and your strength so you don’t have to be.

Extra resources for the Challenger:

When you want to slow down but don’t know how

How powering through your emotions actually mess you up

Type Nine: The Peacemaker

How do you view goals? Peacemakers typically aren’t big fans of goals, but you may need them to get things done. If someone else’s goals intersect with yours, you may unintentionally merge with their priorities and forget your own. Goal setting reminds you of what’s important to you so that you can stay on track.

Do you set goals? Yes, however, you could have a hard time identifying your goals because you may be asleep to your own desires. You may also be a slow-starter or procrastinate in working toward your goals because you tend to get distracted by what others are doing. For you, momentum and follow-through are hard to maintain.

How do you accomplish your goals? Slowly … you’d rather keep the peace and meet the needs of others than push a goal through. The good news is that, once you begin to move forward, that positive momentum carries you to accomplish beautiful work!

How do goals make you feel? You feel one of two ways: pressured to keep up or disappointed because you didn’t. You may also question whether your needs are important enough to act on.

Healthy habits for the Peacemaker:
1. Start by asking God to reveal your passion and dreams. Identify the one thing that matters to you, and share it with a friend.

2. Take one step, then the next—don’t get overwhelmed by all the steps yet to come.

3. Give yourself grace when your goal takes longer to achieve than you thought, and celebrate small victories along the way.

4. Accountability is key for you to stay motivated. Find a trusted friend or mentor, speak out your needs and ask them to hold you accountable for the goals you’ve set.

5. Remember that Jesus gave you talents and gifts to share, not to hide. He can’t wait for you to use them because He knows the world needs you and your gifts.

Extra resources for the Peacemaker:

Why disregard your needs is the worst

When you feel too fragile for friendship

Type One: The Reformer

How do you view goals? More than any other type, Reformers are all about goal setting. Like a moth drawn to a flame, you just can’t help yourself from planning and setting goals.

Do you set goals? Yes! Your goals vacillate between lofty and lowly. You feel lost without goals and checklists.

How do you accomplish your goals? Reformers tend to exhaustively work toward goals, partially because you only trust yourself to do it “right.” Failure and imperfection aren’t options, so you tend to take on too much. And when you don’t know how to achieve your goals perfectly, you tend to feel paralyzed.

How do goals make you feel? As writer Kelly Shank says, “Goals are my best friend and nemesis.” When you reach a goal, you feel amazing. When you don’t, you tell yourself what a complete failure you are as disappointment creeps in. Achieving goals is very much tied to your self worth and sense of control.

Healthy habits for the Reformer:

1. Know that, sometimes, you might feel like an awkward, fumbling rookie, but that’s normal and 100% OK.

2. Set reasonable goals so that your inner critic doesn’t constantly chirp in your ear.

3. Write an anti-SMART ( a non- specific – measurable – attainable – relevant – timely) goal: make it more about the desired result than about the specifics.

4. Practice failing. Allow yourself to complete tasks in a way that’s imperfect so you can accept the grace that, even in failure, you’re wholly loved and accepted by Christ.

5. Remember that Jesus showers you with compassion and mercy.

Extra resources for the Reformer:

Why perfectionists hate community

Six things we miss when we’re too busy being perfect

Type Two: The Helper

How do you view goals? You like setting goals, but you can certainly take them or leave them.

Do you set goals? Yes, but you often let them go in order to help others. It’s also easier for you to stick with a goal that’s others-centric vs. self-centric.

How do you accomplish your goals? Goals are at the whim and discretion of the people in your life. Writer Robin Chapman describes it this way, you’re “…aimlessly whacking at all the helpful things that other people want.”

How do goals make you feel? You don’t have strong feelings about goals because people are far more important to you than any goal.

Healthy habits for the Helper:
1. As writer Emily Furda says, add some “white space” to your goal timeline so you can work toward achieving results that are important to you while leaving time for the people you love.


2. Find a friend who will hold you accountable so you don’t drop your goals entirely.


3. Recognize that your needs are important too.


4. God is always at work in the world so remember that God will take care of others just as He takes care of you.


5. Remember that Jesus is just crazy about you. Your needs are important to Him, and He wants to hear from you.

Extra resources for the Helper:

How do I know if I’m doing enough

What to do when you’re overwhelmed by the suffering you see

Type Three: The Achiever

How do you view goals? Achievers both love and hate goals. You love them because goals are a good way to stay on track when there’s so much to do, but you hate them because they feel like a taskmaster.

Do you set goals? Of course! However, you can easily make your goals too small or avoid them altogether when they tap into what makes you come alive.

How do you accomplish your goals? With exhaustion. Much like the Reformer, you find it hard to relax until something’s accomplished. You can get so laser-focused on achieving your goal that you forget about your people or view them as a distraction or obstacle.

How do goals make you feel? You feel elated when you meet a goal and terrible when you don’t. You also tend to get burned out from working so hard. Achievers may feel pushed around by goals because they tell you to push ahead no matter what you’re feeling.

Healthy habits for the Achiever:
1. When you set a goal, ask why that goal is important to you. Then ask a second time why that reason is important to you. Then ask why again. This exercise helps you understand if the goal is in line with your values or if it’s simply about your image.


2. Identify your end goal: Is your end-goal task completion, a larger outcome, or something you’d like to grow in?


3. Write an anti-SMART goal (a non- specific – measurable – attainable – relevant – timely): make it more about the desired results than about the specifics.


4. Spend time in solitude without doing anything productive and then set goals from that place of rest.


5. Remember that you don’t have to work for the love Jesus already gives you. Achieving a goal doesn’t define your worth.

Extra resources to help the Achiever:

Here’s why you don’t have to do all the things

What a hip-hop dance class taught me about my worth

Type Four: The Individualist

How do you view goals? Individualists love the idea of goal setting, but you rarely complete them. As writer Rachael Webster says, goals are “…overarching, romantic visions of what SHOULD be.”

Do you set goals? Yes, but you can easily abandon your original goals for new ones when you’ve lost momentum. You find it easy to dream them up but hard to execute them.

How do you accomplish your goals? Writer Alison McLennan says this, you’re “perpetually cycling from passionate productivity to depression/apathy and back to excitement.” This cycling may mean that you’re not working toward your goals as much as you’re feeling them.

How do goals make you feel? At first, your goals make you feel inspired, but then, they discourage you. You give too much weight to how your goals make you feel, i.e. if you don’t feel like working toward that goal, you drop it altogether.

Healthy habits for the Individualist:
1. Put emphasis on progress, not your plan or results.


2. Because you focus on your feelings, find a friend who reminds you of your “why.”


3. In light of the fact that you’re highly creative and generate many incredible ideas, ask if your goals are in alignment with your values.


4. Avoid comparing yourself to others. God created you uniquely, and He’s got specific plans for you. Ask Him what He has in mind for your life.


5. Remember that, in Christ, you lack nothing.

Extra resources for the Individualist:

Three ways to beat the comparison game

When all doesn’t feel merry and bright

See Also

Type Five: The Investigator

How do you view goals? Investigators view goals as helpful, not as tasks to be rigidly accomplished. Goals (when they’ve been thoroughly researched) keep you from getting sidetracked by new ideas.

Do you set goals? You set smaller goals, ones that stretch you with effort, but you rarely establish one major goal. You, more than any other type, set attainable goals in light of your other responsibilities. However, Investigators run the risk of researching a goal to death if you’re not careful. You’re thoroughly versed not only in the goal, but also in the best way to reach it.

How do you accomplish your goals? You accomplish your goals one step at a time. It’s easy for you to break a large task into smaller chunks. You research the best ways to do it, lose interest, then come back to it and realize there are now new ways to achieve it. This can cause slow progress.

How do goals make you feel? You feel amazing after you achieve a goal, but you won’t attempt anything that makes you feel incompetent or incapable. As writer Cari Jehlik said, “Goals set in our areas of knowledge and competence help give us direction, which is reassuring. However, if goals are set for us (such as at work) that stretch us too far, we can revert to our familiar realm of research and never actually attempt the goal.”

Healthy habits for the Investigator:
1. Trust your analytical and introspective nature as you continue to think through the big picture and what you’d like to achieve. Balance this trust with an awareness that you hide behind all your research.


2. Know that, sometimes, you might feel like an awkward, fumbling rookie, but that’s normal and 100% OK.


3. For bigger goals, go against the grain and share responsibility with another person even when you’d prefer to go it alone.


4. Set a goal or two that makes you stretch, a goal that makes you feel a tiny bit incompetent. It will be OK!


5. Remember that there’s always abundance with Christ—He’ll provide all you need. He goes before you and knows every step you’ll take.

Extra resources for the Investigator:

How you’re avoiding pain without realizing it

What does it mean to live wisely in my right-now life

Type Six: The Loyalist

How do you view goals? Loyalists need goals to keep moving forward, but because of your tendency to overanalyze, it’s hard for you to know what goals to set.

Do you set goals? Yes. You’re great at setting goals, but you can often overthink them. Sometimes you have too many goals to count, while at other times, your goals are too high.

How do you accomplish your goals? When you feel stressed, you act like a Type Three (Achiever), meaning that you work, work, work yourself into exhaustion until the goal is met. You also tend to worry and analyze each goal to death.

How do goals make you feel? For you, goals can be a source of worry as you wonder how they’ll impact others. You feel added pressure to achieve the goals you’ve set, which might lead to burn out. You may also beat yourself up if you fail to reach a goal.

Healthy habits for the Loyalist:
1. Be realistic and break goals into smaller steps.


2. Remember that goal setting isn’t just about achievement; it’s about taking one step at a time.


3. Give yourself grace and take one step at a time, even when you fear something will go wrong.


4. Ask the Holy Spirit, not your “inner committee,” to guide you because He alone will give you clarity and peace.


5. Remember that Jesus holds you in the palm of His hand.

Extra resources for the Loyalist:

Why casting my cares isn’t working

How to trade worry for trust (a prayer)

Type Seven: The Enthusiast

How do you view goals? Enthusiasts are in favor of goals, but you may not label them as such. You’re more likely to be guided by your value system and your desired outcome than a checklist.

Do you set goals? You can take or leave goals, but you always, always know where you’re headed.

How do you accomplish your goals? Because you’re always ready for the next adventure, you accomplish goals easily so you can start the next one.

How do goals make you feel? If you set goals, they can cause you to feel hurried and hassled and never settled. You feel rushed because there’s always another goal out there to reach.

Healthy habits for the Enthusiast:
1. Break down your big goals into smaller units so they seem more manageable over time.


2. Be vigilant about staying present with each goal so that you’re not tempted to chase the next one.


3. Even if you don’t set goals or label your ideas as such, remember that you have principles and values that guide you well.


4. Celebrate small victories.


5. Remember that God will always take care of you.

Extra Resources for the Enthusiast:

Why you think you’re never enough

How to stop expectations from ruining everything

Regardless of what type of goal-setter you are, remember that you don’t have to be perfect, stuff down your feelings and needs, work for love, strive to be cared for, or hold all things together. You have a God who showers you with compassion and mercy, who’s your protector, provider and strength, who holds you in the palm of His hand, who lacks nothing and gives everything.

This year, remember that Jesus is just crazy about you.

Jill McCormick is the writer behind jillemccormick.com, a blog where she shares common-sense grace with women trying their hardest.

Jill lives in South Texas with her husband Ryan and their two daughters, born 18 months apart. Most days you’ll find her with a book in her hand or a podcast talking in her ear buds.

Her work has been featured in RELEVANT magazine, ForEveryMom.com, and UndeniablyGodMinistries.com, and she’s co-authored the book, Sister, Walk in Truth

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