Last year, if you were to ask me what my goal was, I would have answered very enthusiastically, ‘to have a book published… oh and also to be debt free!’ These are things that inspire me. But the problem is, they are huge targets and are so wide open that they almost feel unattainable. Now I would say that those are not goals– they are dreams. In this post, I will give you 7 important tips for setting goals that you will actually be able to achieve.
Sound too good to be true? Read on to see what’s involved!
1. CHUNK YOUR GOAL
The first thing you need to do when you’re setting a goal you will actually achieve is to plan the steps you would need to take to achieve the goal. Be specific- brain dump all the steps you would need to take to achieve the goal you’ve set.
More often than not, the very first step is to put the work that’s needed into the back-end.
For my publishing goal, the first step is to finish the book! And not only that, but to finish it to a high enough standard that I feel that it’s ready to send to a publisher or agent. The step that involves the most work is massive… but it’s also the most essential one, and one that many people don’t get past!
For my debt-free goal, I need to plan out what this means e.g. do I want to be mortgage free while owning a mansion? I need to plan out the actual nitty gritty steps that are involved- what kind of house do I want to own, how much am I saving and can I increase this? What are my income streams and is there potential to expand or build on them?
These steps are all about detail. Once I have an idea of the details involved in my goal, it’s time to define it- use a format so you can see how you will achieve the goals you’ve set, and how you can track your progress towards them. Adding detail is one of the most important tips for setting goals you will actually achieve.
2. DEFINE YOUR GOAL
Although SMART goal writing reminds me far too much of university grades and assessments, I’ve been unable to find a goal-setting framework that is better or more thorough than this one. You may have heard of it already, but if you’re like me, it’s difficult to remember to actually put it into practice!
Many of us prefer to be vague about things- to hold the dream in our hearts but never actually dissect it and figure out what it would take for it to become a reality.
Here’s a breakdown of tips for using SMART goals to achieve the goals you set.
Specific– Be specific with your goal and what you want to accomplish. In my case, would self-publishing a book count? Or is my goal specifically to publish a book through a traditional publisher? This is a great opportunity to figure out exactly what you really want. It will also help to clarify your vision which will be important for building your motivation to achieve your goal. The more specific it is, the easier it will be to get there!
Measurable- How are you going to measure the success of this goal? Will you use a specific tool to measure it? Without a measurement to show you if the goal is complete or not, you will find it difficult to say when you have achieved what you set out to achieve.
Achievable- This one is my own personal stumbling block. I love creating rhymes and acronyms to set my goals. My latest creation was ‘mortgage free by 33.’ Sounds amazing, but… how?! As inspiring as the little rhyme is, how am I actually planning to achieve this level of financial freedom within this time-frame? It’s fine if I can plot out how, but you definitely need to figure out if your goal is something you can realistically achieve. Maybe you could achieve it with some extra things in place. Or maybe you need to modify your goal. You will find it extremely discouraging if you have set a goal that you can’t realistically achieve. Equally, it’s so motivating when you have a goal that you know for sure that you can achieve if you put your mind to it.
Relevant– Does this goal align with what you want your life to be? If the answer is no, then maybe the goal isn’t actually relevant for you. This is a very personal point, but it’s important! Goals should make a difference- they need to fit well with your wider goals and vision for your life.
Time-bound– It’s so important to put a realistic ‘by…’ date on goals. When will this goal be achieved by? Within your lifetime or within one year? Once you know the time-frame, you can make sure that you have actionable steps that are also time bound so you can see if you are progressing towards your goal or not. Too often we wake up one day and think, I had meant to have achieved this or that by now! If you want to define your goal, make sure it is time-oriented!
3. KNOW THE ‘WHY’ OF YOUR GOAL
If you want to set goals you can actually achieve, a tip is to know the ‘why’ of your goal.
If you know the ‘why’ to your goal, then you will be much more likely to keep up the level of motivation required to work on it every day.
This is especially important when your goal is around money or finances. Maybe your goal is to be debt-free or mortgage- free. Or maybe it’s that you would like to make enough money to be able to retire. Or to start your own business so that you can work for yourself or work more flexibly.
Remember to ask yourself why you want to achieve these things.
If I become debt-free, I will have extra money. So what? What do I want extra money for? Will it sit in the bank? Do I want savings? Do I want to change my lifestyle? This is part if your goal, so it is important to set it out and know that it is worth pursuing.
If I build an online business with passive income I will have the choice to work more flexibly. I may eventually have extra time. So what? Do I want extra time so that I can stay in bed longer? Do I want to be able to work from home? Why? What’s better about working from home? What will I do with this freedom once I have it?
Whether it’s more money or more time, create a vision for what this will mean for your life. Make it a vision worth fighting for every day.
Maybe “so I can be at home for my kids” is what will motivate you. Maybe it’s “so I can travel to X and be able to work while travelling.”
Even my goal about publishing my book needs to have a ‘so what’? What am I hoping to achieve with this? Is it realistic? How will it impact my life and the lives of others? What can it lead onto?
Make sure you have a vision for how your life will look. Be intentional about your goals! Having a vague idea of being able to sleep in and not having to turn up at the office is unlikely to sustain you through the amount of work and motivation needed to achieve your goal.
Use goal-setting to create a life that you love! A life that is active, fulfilling, intentional and filled with purpose.
4. CREATE A VISION BOARD FOR YOUR GOAL
When you are clear on the ‘why’ of your goal, make a vision board to remind you of this every single day. Keep it in view so that it will inspire you as you work. A vision board can be as unique as you want it to be. Take your time to create it- make sure that your head is in the right space and don’t rush.
Brainstorm words that inspire you, draw or gather pictures that enhance your vision, and even include objects that are connected to your goal and mean something to you. Think about how they make you feel. If they make you feel positive, determined, happy, motivated, inspired, or anything else that’s important to you, then include it!
The purpose of the vision board is to connect to your ‘why’- to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing, and inspire you as to what you can achieve with the goals you’ve set. Anything at all that ticks these boxes for you can be included!
Have a look at this helpful video if you want some further ideas and a step by step process for creating your own vision board (it’s from 2019 but I still like it a lot!)
Top Tips: Make a Vision Board to Achieve The Goals you Set!
5. GET YOUR MOTIVATION SORTED
Even with a fantastic why, motivation can still sometimes be a struggle. In all honesty, for me it’s an ever present struggle!
Motivation can be even more difficult when you don’t see initial progress towards your goal, or experience setbacks, difficulties or rejection. It can be so easy to slip into a mindset of, ‘why bother? It doesn’t matter anyway.’ This is why it’s so important to know your ‘why’ for your goal, to have a vision board to help you with inspiration, and to have a SMART framework so that your goal is well-defined and achievable.
But even with these awesome things in place, it might be that we just don’t feel like it. I heard a statement lately that rang very true- you will never feel like it! I can identify with this! The scale of the project can just seem too big to even begin!
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
This statement is often quoted. I had always taken it to mean: relax, you can’t do everything all at once! Very true! Or so I thought. Until I heard a follow up that I’ve never forgotten, that is.
But a brick was laid every hour.
Eek! What a hard-hitting statement! Motivating though, right?
It’s so necessary to remind ourselves that a big achievement (even something as massive as Rome) is still a series of small steps. It’s encouraging but sobering at the same time. Your vision can be as huge as you want it to be- but taking small frequent steps is absolutely paramount to your progress and ultimate success.
Lay a brick every hour- take small, steady steps that slowly build your goal. Use your vision board to remind you of what you’re shooting for- it doesn’t have to happen all at once (and in fact, it can’t) so learn to be OK with this.
But also remember the importance of laying the individual bricks. Every singe brick is crucial. Each individual brick contributes to your big picture! This is one of the most important tips to achieve the goals you set!
6. CELEBRATE THE SMALL STEPS
When we have an ‘end goal’ in mind, it can be easy to feel discouraged when we don’t reach it fast enough. It can be hard to have an ‘eagle eye’ perspective to see what progress has actually been made!
If you’ve followed this process, you’ll have broken your goal into smaller, specific and actionable steps that also have time frames. So remember to celebrate when you achieve these smaller milestones! Celebrating success is an important tip in setting goals you will actually achieve.
Have a ‘reward scheme’ in place. I find it so motivating to know what I am working towards and I find small rewards highly motivating.
For me, I decided that I would get an ice-cream at my favourite dessert café for every 10,000 words of my book.
For a savings goal, why not set a reward based on your small milestones. Bring lunch from home, but on the last Friday of every month, buy lunch out. Or even simply- don’t buy coffees during the week but have a bought coffee on Saturday mornings.
Deciding when you will treat yourself gives you something to look forward. It breaks the bigger goal into smaller chunks with motivation built in. Little things like this can make the hard work and effort so much easier to manage.
7. BE CONSISTENT
This is the most important tip for setting a goal you will actually achieve! All the planning, vision boards and motivations and rewards in the world won’t substitute for consistently working towards your goal.
Be consistent with what you set yourself, and be consistent with your rewards.
Of course, this isn’t to say that your plan is unchangeable and set in stone- of course it’s a living plan that is flexible and able to be adapted.
But never forget that at some point the hard work and effort still needs to happen. It is the only way that these tips will work and you will achieve the goals that you set.
If you have trouble with setting a goal and then being consistent in working towards it, why not set a review date for 3 months. Follow your plan for this time (don’t make the timeframe too short) and then review. How are you tracking? Have you taken some smaller steps? Have you celebrated the progress you’ve made? Are you still on track? And were you able to stick to your plan?
Review if needed, but you might surprise yourself! And if you can do it for 3 months then guess what? You can do it!
Summary- Tips for Setting Goals You will Actually Achieve!
So that’s it! 7 surefire tips for setting goals you will be able to achieve!
- Chunk your Goal
- Define your Goal
- Know the Why of your Goal
- Create a Vision Board For Your Goal
- Get Your Motivation Sorted
- Celebrate the Small Steps
- Be Consistent
There is nothing like achieving a goal, whether it’s a practical one or a cherished lifelong goal. Use these 7 tips so you are able to achieve the goals that you set.
You might also enjoy:
- 5 Science Backed Strategies on How to Achieve Your Goals
- 4 Awesome Ted Talks That Will Show You How to Get Stuff Done
- How to be Successful in Life: It’s Simpler Than You Think!
- 15 Top “Love What You Do” Quotes to Inspire an Intentional Life