Have you ever struggled when it comes to setting and accomplishing your goals?
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we will discuss the 5 simple steps you need to not only set goals, but to accomplish them. We’ll not only cover how to choose and write your goals, but we will also discuss the steps that you need to take that will help you finish them as well.
Let’s do it.
Before you continue:
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Step 1: Know What you want to accomplish
Before you can set and pursue a goal, you first must know what it is you want to accomplish.
You can do that in a variety of ways (which we will go through below).
Of course, you may already know exactly what you want to accomplish, which is great. The information below still has some information in it that can help make sure you follow through on your goals.
Long-term to short-term goals
One way to figure out and set effective goals is to think from long-term to short-term.
To do this, you start with thinking in the future. Think 5 or 10 years in the future. Take away all doubts, impossibilities, etc.
If you could have the perfect life, no impossibilities, where do you see yourself in 5 years? What will your life look like?
If you are setting it for a business, where would your business look like in a perfect world in 5 years?
See yourself there. Feel it.
Then write those things out.
Then move to short-term
Now think about this year. What do you need to do this year that would move you toward your long-term goals?
Write those things out. Those could be your more short-term goals that can help you get to your long-term goals.
After you think about yearly goals, you can also think monthly, weekly, or even daily. What do you need to accomplish this month that will help you accomplish your yearly goal(s)? What weekly goal can you set to help you with your monthly goal?
What goal can you set for today to help you reach your weekly/monthly goal?
(Note: you don’t have to do daily, weekly, etc. goals. Some people like to do it that way, some don’t. I’m just putting those out as possibilities. But it’s good to have a long-term vision of where you would like to be, and yearly goals that help you get there).
Of course, your yearly goals don’t all have to be your long-term goals. Maybe there is something you want to accomplish or do this year. That’s great, too. You can set that as a goal as well.
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Ask yourself belief-busting questions
Thinking long-term to short-term is a very effective way to come up with and set goals, but sometimes our limiting beliefs make it hard to see long-term or short-term. We have told ourselves “it could never happen” so much, we have forgotten what we truly want to pursue.
Here are some questions to ask that can help you see past your limiting beliefs to the goals that you may really want to accomplish:
- What do I constantly tell myself that I can’t do or that is impossible?
- What do I wish I could do but always think “I can’t” or “I’m not good enough” or “no way that could ever happen”?
- If everything was possible, no limits or boundaries, what would I do? What would I accomplish?
- If you were given 3 wishes guaranteed to be true, what would they be?
- If you were granted the perfect life, what would it look like?
- If there were no limits and no impossibilities or bureaucracy, where would you like your business to be?
- What have you been afraid to try?
- If given ten million dollars, no string attached, how would you spend it?
These questions can help open your eyes to desires you may have but have been repressing because of doubts and unbelief.
100 Goal List
Jack Canfield in his book The Success Principles talks about making a list of 100 goals that you want to accomplish in life.
In a sense, it’s a bucket list.
Take some time and think about it, what all would you like to accomplish and do in life? Write it all out.
Now pick one (or two or three)
Ok, so by now you may have a BUNCH of ideas for goals. That’s awesome.
Here’s the kicker though – you aren’t and don’t need to pursue them all at once. In fact, at max you probably should do 3, though pursuing 1 is often ideal.
Because when you pursue too much, you spread yourself thin. You don’t give anything the attention it needs, and it’s a lot easier to get burned out.
Instead, ask yourself, “If everything remained the same, what one goal would have the greatest impact on my life?”
Then pursue that wholeheartedly.
Or there may be a specific goal you know you want to pursue. Do that one.
Once you finish it or make the pursuit of the goal part of your daily routine, then add others. Just make sure to focus on 1-3 goals at a time, no more.
Make sure it’s something you are passionate about
One reason people don’t accomplish their goals is that they “pursue” goals that they aren’t really passionate about.
They pursue it because they think that’s what they are “supposed” to do, or they pursue it because someone else wants them to.
That’s a recipe for failure. If it’s not something you are passionate about, then you are likely going to not follow through, especially when the going gets tough.
As you are deciding on what goal you want, make sure it’s something you want to do, something that you are passionate about.
There may be times when you do have to accomplish goals set by others, and that’s okay. In those cases, just find your own reason, your own “why”, and your own passion for them.
Make sure it’s relevant
Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s relevant to your values, your priorities, and to your stage of life.
You likely will have different goals when you have a newborn baby versus when that baby is heading toward college. Some goals fit better in one stage of life than another.
Your goals have to fit your priorities and values as well. If they don’t, it can put your life out of sync and cause extra chaos.
Step 2: Write your goals effectively
The second step to set goals that you will achieve is to write your goals effectively. Here are some steps and principles to make that happen.
Note: Writing out your goals has power. It makes it more real. It can be a constant reminder. It helps you clarify what you want and don’t want. Don’t just think about your goals, make sure you write them out.
Make it specific
Vague goals are anathema to success. How can you accomplish something if you aren’t really sure what that something is?
There’s a difference between “lose weight” and “lose 15 pounds”. What does lose weight mean?
If you say, I want to “grow my business” or “exercise more” or “make more money” or “be healthier” – what do those mean?
- What does it mean to “grow your business”? If you make one more dollar, then does that count?
- If you want to exercise more, and you take an extra trip to the fridge, does that count?
- If I give you a nickel, does that count for making more money?
- Does an extra apple a day count for being healither?
You get where I’m going with this? You have to be specific. Write what you mean.
- “Grow my business 20%” or “with 3 more full-time staff”.
- “Make 20% more on commissions” or “Earn $10,000 more this year”.
- “Exercise 3x a week” or “Run 4/5 days a week before work”.
The more specific it is, the more likely you will do it.
Make it measurable
You want to be able to measure your goal. If you can’t or don’t, you won’t know when (or if) you’ve arrived.
Measurements also allow you to see where you are along the way which allows you to make adjustments as you go.
Often, by making it specific, you make it measurable.
- “Earn 20% more on commission this year”.
- “Lose 45 pounds by…”
- “Hire 3 new employees by…”
- “Increase market penetration by 10%..”
Of course, measurement doesn’t have to be a number. It can be events or benchmarks as well. For example:
- “Land a man on the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the decade” (a paraphrase). That’s measurable, because we knew we achieved it when the man landed on the moon and came back safely.
- “Run my first marathon in 5 months…”. You know you’ve accomplished it when you’ve run the marathon!
Make it challenging
One mistake many take when setting goals is that they make them too easy. They only set goals that they “know” they can accomplish and know exactly how they will do that.
The danger with that is easy goals aren’t inspiring. They don’t motivate us.
Which one inspires more?
Let’s take running as an example. Let’s say that your fastest mile was 6 minutes. You have a race coming up.
Tell me, which goal inspires and motivates you more: to beat the race in 6 minutes, 15 seconds, or 5 minutes 50 seconds?
The first one is easy. It won’t inspire you. It won’t push you to try your hardest. You know you can do it.
However, trying to shave a few seconds off your best times, that will motivate you to push harder during practice and push yourself during the race to try to get it.
Challening goals takes us far
Challenging goals push us further than we originally thought we could do. They motivate us. They cause us to push harder and further than we’ve ever been before.
Challenging goals help us grow. Great changes and innovations come from challenging goals, not easy goals.
Make it challenging – but not unrealistic (or beyond belief)
Granted, you want it to be something that’s possible – you can’t run a marathon in a week if you haven’t been running in a year – but it’s good to push yourself a little.
And if you set your goal so big you don’t believe it’s actually possible, you won’t pursue it either. If you have low unbelief, start with smaller goals and build up.
For example, if you are trying to beat your time, you may start with 5:59 instead of 5:50. That’s okay.
Just make sure to challenge and push yourself.
Make it time-based
You need a deadline or timetable for your goal. If you don’t have a deadline, then there is nothing to push you to make it happen.
A lack of a deadline makes it easy to push it off and procrastinate. “I have time, I’ll just do it tomorrow.”
Putting a deadline makes it real. It can challenge you. It pushes you to do to more, faster.
You can challenge yourself with your deadlines
We often can do things faster when we are pushed to. Deadlines can do that for us. They can help us accomplish more in less time.
Here are some examples of time-based goals:
- “Lose 45 pounds by summer vacation.”
- “Increase my commission by 20% this year”.
- “Learn how to dance the Macarena by August.”
However, not all goals are made for a deadline, for example:
- “Work out 3x a week after work.”
- “Eat healthy foods only 6/7 days a week.”
- “Write a blog post every day, 5 days a week.”
Those don’t have specific deadlines – they are more activity based goals. However, you can attach timelines to them to try to challenge yourself to be more consistent.
- “Work out 3x a week after work for the next 10 weeks.”
- “Eat healthy foods only 6/7 days a week for the next month.”
- “Write a blog post every day, 5 days a week, for the next 6 weeks.”
Then, if you make it, celebrate and start again.
If you didn’t, just start over and try again.
What happens if you miss your deadline?
Sometimes we may misjudge or things in life happen. Don’t quit or beat yourself up, just recommit to your goal, set a new deadline, and go for it.
Make it short and concise
Goals should be short and concise. Often you will read online you should put your plan in the goal, make it wordy, make it a paragraph, and so on.
That’s bad advice. Here’s why:
When goals are long, they aren’t inspiring. They also make it where you don’t want to reread and rewrite them.
One great way to focus on your goal is to reread it daily, rewrite them, and/or post them on your mirror or such.If your goal is long, you likely won’t want to do that.
Making goals long also makes them less clear. If it’s long and wordy, it can become confusing.
Long goals aren’t inspiring
And long goals aren’t inspiring. Look at these examples.
Which is more inspiring (and readable, understandable, etc.)?
“To put a man on the moon and bring him back safely within the decade.”
“Our goal for the next 10 years is to develop the technology that will allow us to put a man in space, land on the moon, and then bring him back safely to earth. To do this, we will develop life-support, landing, etc. technology that will blah blah.”
“To increase customer satisfaction to 95% this quarter.”
“Our goal for the coming quarter is to increase the number of customers who are satisfied with our service all the way to 95%. We will do this by smiling more, giving better service, and so on. We will record their satisfaction with our new….”
I could give you more examples, but I think you get the point.
Short, concise goals are inspiring. They are easy to read. You know in an instant what you are trying to accomplish.
What about the plan and strategy?
Some suggest putting your plan and strategy in your goal. I hope you can see from above why that is not the best idea, but let me dive further into this question.
There is a difference between your goal and your plan and strategy.
Your goal is pretty firm. You may adjust it some as you gain information (such as, it’s going to take more time than you first anticipated). However, in general, it stays close to the same.
Your plan and strategy, however, are flexible. They change.
You may try something and it doesn’t work. Does that mean you quit your goal?
No. You just try something else!
Your goal stays the same, but the strategy and plan you use to accomplish it changes.
That, to me, is the biggest reason you don’t put it in your goal.
Yes, write down your strategy and plan and change it as needed. But let your goal be your goal and keep it separate.
Short and concise
So when you write your goal, keep it short and concise. Think of each word costing $10,000. Use as few as possible.
Use action verbs
If possible, use action verbs in your goals (and start your goal with the verb).
You will see that in most of my examples, they began with an action verb.
Do you have to do it that way? No. It does make it more short and concise. And, to me, it starts off and flows better that way.
If you want to add “to” in front, go ahead, it’s your goal. I would avoid adding “my goal is to…”, however. Keep it short, simple, and concise.
Know and write your “why”
When you set and write your goals, it’s important to know your “why” for the goal.
Your why is the reason you are pursuing the goal. It’s the reason for the passion.
Why do you want to purse this goal? Why do you want it to happen? What will be the end result?
Know the reason why, and write it down (separately).
Your “why” is the reason you are doing it. It’s the reason for the passion. As time passes and things get difficult, you want to remember the
“why”. It can keep you motivated.
You want to write it down because, sometimes when things are hard, we can’t remember why we are doing it. Pulling out that paper can help us remember and help us push forward in those tough times.
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Step 3: Write out your plan/next step
Now that you’ve decided what goal(s) you want to accomplish and have written them out effectively, next you need to write out your plan.
There are a couple of ways to do this.
Start at the end and go backward
The first one is to start at the end result and go backward. What will you have to do to finish the goal? What will you have to do to get to that point? And then keep going all the way to the first step.
List out all the steps you know
Another option is to list out all the steps you know you will need to do to accomplish the goal. Then prioritize and order them by importance and/or sequence.
Planning can save you a lot of time in execution. It can help you overcome procrastination. It can help keep you motivated and on track.
If you have all your steps listed, you can start knocking them out, one by one, step by step.
If you have it planned, you don’t have to figure out, “okay, what do I do now?” You just hit your plan and do it.
Planning also makes the big and unmanageable more manageable.
If you are pursuing a giant goal and it seems overwhelming, break it down into subgoals or steps. Then focus on the next step that gets you toward the goal, not the overwhelming goal.
What if you don’t know?
Truth is, though, you may not know all the steps to get to your goal. And that’s okay.
One of the dangers is actually overplanning. Some people spend so much time planning every detail that they never take action. Or they don’t take action because they don’t have all the information and every step.
Here’s a hint: you don’t need to know all the steps to get there. You just need to know the NEXT step.
It’s okay to not know everything or to have it all figured out. Just find your next step, and do it. Then find the next and do it, and so on.
Your next step may be doing research on the topic so that you know what some of your other steps are.
So, in summary, planning can be great (though overplanning isn’t). But what’s most important is that you know your next step, and then TAKE ACTION.
Step 4: Pursue your goals persistently
Once you have your goal(s) written out and have figured out your plan (to whatever extent) and know your next step, TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY.
Seriously, do something, now, today toward your goal. It’s okay, I’ll wait.
There’s a law called the law of diminishing intent. It says that the longer you wait to do something, the less likely will do it.
The longer you put off starting on your goal, the less likely you will ever start. So take action immediately.
Get the momentum going. Get the ball rolling. Get the law of inertia on your side.
Make the first step easy
One good idea is to make your first step something easy and simple so that it’s easy to start.
If your goal is to run, make the first day a simple, easy jog, or even a walk. Just get out there.
If you plan to workout at a gym, get to the gym and, if nothing else, walk around it. Try to do a couple of weights or 5 minutes on the treadmill. It doesn’t have to be much or long, just get started.
Take action every day (if possible)
If possible, take action on your goals every day. Don’t let the momentum die or procrastinate on it. Take action.
A little bit of action over time produces compounding and extraordinary results. It’s better to do a little bit every day than do big chunks sporadically here and there.
Make it a part of your routine
If you can, make the action toward your goal part of your daily routine. Some will be easier than others, but for most, it’s possible.
If your goal is to “work on my novel 15 minutes every day” or “write the rough draft of my novel by November 1st”, make writing part of your everyday routine.
Find a time where, every day, you write at that specific time. For example, right after breakfast, you write. Or first thing in the morning. Or right before bed.
Whatever it is, find a way to do it at the same time after the same event (after breakfast, for example) every day.
Doing this will, over time, make it part of routine and habit for you, which will then make it even easier for you to accomplish your goals.
Step 5: Review yourself frequently
Once you have the goal chosen, written, and you are taking action on it every day/frequently, you need to begin reviewing yourself frequently.
Because it helps you keep yourself accountable and on track. You can spot where things are going wrong and make adjustments early on. If something isn’t working, you can try to fix it.
It can also be a time to celebrate where you are doing well and challenge yourself more where you are not.
You can do this in different ways.
If you set daily goals, having a daily review would be wise. Ask:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
- Where can I improve?
- How can I do better next time?
If you do weekly goals, you can do similar meetings on a weekly basis.
However, if nothing else, it would be wise to have monthly review sessions, or quarterly at a minimum, depending on your goals.
In these review sessions, ask yourself how the goals are going, what’s going well and what isn’t, how you can improve, what adjustments do you need to make, what you can celebrate, and so on.
Be forgiving of yourself
One thing to remember is that, if you’ve made a mistake or failed to take action as you should, don’t beat yourself up. That won’t help.
Instead, learn from your mistakes. If you are having trouble getting started or taking action, find what’s causing that trouble and try to overcome it.
Beating yourself up doesn’t help. Learning, growing, and being proactive because of your mistakes does.
And lastly, don’t quit.
If you go into your meeting and things have changed and that goal isn’t something you are passionate about anymore (or at this time), it’s okay to change.
However, just because it’s a little hard, don’t quit. Keep pushing forward.
If you find that your plan and strategy isn’t working, then change it. Talk to people who’ve done what you are trying to do and learn from them. Do some research and learn.
If you’ve failed to take action, in your review session, recommit to the goal. Write out your next step, and then take action on it.
Remember your “why” and visualize
Remember the “why” of your goal. Remember the reason you are doing it. Pull out your “why” sheet.
Visualize it. See yourself at the end result. Feel the emotions that will come with it.
Do this, and it can help motivate you to keep moving forward and pursuing it.
There you have it, the 5 simple steps on how to set goals you will actually accomplish.
- Know what you want to accomplish
- Write them out effectively
- Write out your plan and next step
- Pursue your goals persistently and
- Review yourself frequently.
With these steps, you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible.
Go through this article and decide on the goal(s) you want to pursue. Then the let the world know in the comments below so we can support you – what goal are you going to start pursuing?