How to Set, Keep, and Achieve Goals
When you set clear and quantifiable goals, your choices and actions take on new significance. Goals both big and small can be the stepping stones to a happier life, and the way we set them can make a real difference in achieving them. It’s not always about getting more done and accumulating more things. With the right approach, you can work efficiently, productively, and relatively stress-free as you set, keep, and achieve your goals.
Grab a notebook, sit down, and think and focus on what you truly want to get out of life and what is important to you right now. Your area of focus may include any of the key elements of life below that are important for overall happiness and wellbeing.
Choose 1-3 areas of focus below that you want to prioritize and set goals for.
Areas of Focus:
2. Set one to three goals (maximum)
After you choose three areas of focus you want to prioritize from the above list, set three realistic goals for each area. Decide what you would like to achieve over the next 90 days pertaining to those areas of focus, grab a notebook and write it down. For example, if you would like to improve relationships and you want to re-connect with friends or family, you may set a goal to connect with three friends in person or by phone over the next 90 days. Maybe physical fitness is something you want to make a priority in your life, and you set a goal to consistently workout three times per week within the next 90 days. Perhaps you want to change jobs, and you set a goal to have a new job that makes you happier within 90 days.
3. Break down those goals into smaller goals
Now let’s break your big goals down further. Breaking these down helps us be more specific. What realistic steps can you take over the next 4 weeks to successfully achieve that end goal? Let’s use the relationships example again: You want to re-connect with friends or family you have lost touch with. Write down the names of the people you want to connect with and break down the big goal further by making a plan to connect with one of them each month. Continue to break that goal down further and decide what steps can you take within the next 7 days to achieve your end goal. Perhaps you email one friend or family member per week to set up a time to connect in person or over the phone, and see what works for your schedules. If physical activity was your area of focus, you may set a 4-week goal to walk one hour three times per week. You can continue to break down that goal further by setting realistic steps you can take within the next week to achieve that goal. You might buy a pedometer and new walking shoes over the next week to help you achieve your big goal. See where I’m doing here? Don’t just set a big goal without breaking that goal down into realistic and actionable steps!
4. Share your goal with others
Accountability is a vital tool for succeeding in the goals you set for yourself. Telling someone we know about our goals adds extra accountability when things get tough and increases the likelihood that you will stick with them.
5. Commit and take action
Intentions and goals are simply nothing without action. Set a date to start working on your smaller weekly goal that will set you up to achieve your larger 90-day goal. Working towards our goals can sometimes be difficult and frustrating, so we need to persevere. If a step you're doing isn't working, think of something else you could try that still moves you forward.
Goal setting is an ongoing activity, not just a means to an end. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track and review your goals regularly. And, most importantly, ACKNOWLEDGE and CELEBRATE any and all wins and your commitment to your health and well-being.
For more tools on goal setting these are some great resources: