Setting goals that actually work

Have you ever set an unattainable goal? Maybe you tried to lose weight, start a business, or learn a language. You set the goal, and you were excited about it at first, but eventually you lost motivation and gave up. Rest assured that you are not alone in your struggle to set effective goals. While it can be a challenging task, adopting the appropriate mindset and methodology can enable you to accomplish anything you desire. This article explores the steps you need to take to set and achieve goals that actually work.

Table of Contents:

What is a goal?

A goal is a specific and measurable objective that you aim to achieve within a certain timeframe. It could be related to personal growth, career advancement, health and fitness, financial stability, or any other area of your life. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Why is setting goals important?

Setting goals is essential for personal and professional growth. It helps you:

  • Focus on what you want to achieve.
  • Create a plan of action.
  • Measure your progress.
  • Stay motivated
  • Overcome obstacles
  • Celebrate your achievements.

Without clear goals, it’s easy to get lost, feel unmotivated, and lose track of what you want to achieve.

The difference between short-term and long-term goals

Short-term goals are goals that you want to achieve in the near future, usually within a few months or a year. They are usually stepping stones towards achieving your long-term goals. Examples of short-term goals include losing 10 pounds, reading a book every week, or saving $1000.

Long-term goals are goals that you want to achieve in the long run, usually within 5–10 years or more. They are usually more significant and require more planning and effort to achieve. Examples of long-term goals include starting a business, buying a house, or retiring early.

How to set achievable goals

To set achievable goals, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Identify what you want to achieve.
  2. Break down your goal into smaller, manageable steps.
  3. Set a deadline for each step.
  4. Create a plan of action.
  5. Review your progress regularly.

The SMART criteria for goal setting

The SMART criteria are a popular method for setting goals that actually work. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

  • Specific: Your goal should be clear and specific. Avoid vague goals like “lose weight” or “make more money.” Instead, be specific about how much weight you want to lose or how much money you want to make.
  • Measurable: Your goal should be measurable so that you can track your progress. This means that you need to quantify your goal.
  • Achievable: Your goal should be challenging but achievable. Don’t set goals that are too easy or too difficult. Your goal should be something that you can realistically achieve with effort and determination.
  • Relevant: Your goal should be relevant to your personal or professional life. It should be something that aligns with your values, interests, and priorities.
  • Time-bound: Your goal should have a deadline. This will help you stay focused and motivated. Without a deadline, it’s easy to procrastinate and lose sight of your goal.

Using the SMART criteria, you can create goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This will increase your chances of success and keep you motivated throughout the process.

How to create an action plan

Once you have set your goals, it’s essential to create an action plan. An action plan is a step-by-step guide that outlines what you need to do to achieve your goal. Here’s how to create an action plan:

  1. Break down your goal into smaller, manageable steps.
  2. Identify what you need to do to achieve each step.
  3. Set deadlines for each step.
  4. Assign tasks to yourself or others.
  5. Review and update your action plan regularly.

Creating an action plan will help you stay focused and on track. It will also make your goal more manageable and achievable.

The importance of tracking your progress

Tracking your progress is crucial for achieving your goals. It allows you to see how far you’ve come, what you’ve accomplished, and what you need to do next. Here are some tips for tracking your progress:

  1. Use a journal or planner to record your progress.
  2. Use a tracking app or software to monitor your progress.
  3. Set milestones and celebrate your achievements.
  4. Review your progress regularly and make adjustments if necessary.

Tracking your progress will help you stay motivated and on track. It will also allow you to identify any obstacles or challenges that you need to overcome.

Overcoming obstacles and staying motivated

Achieving your goals is not always easy. There will be obstacles, challenges, and setbacks along the way. Here’s how to overcome obstacles and stay motivated:

  1. Identify the obstacles or challenges you are facing.
  2. Find ways to overcome them.
  3. Stay positive and focused.
  4. Reward yourself for progress and achievements.
  5. Surround yourself with supportive people.

Overcoming obstacles and staying motivated are essential for achieving your goals. By staying positive and focused, you can overcome any challenge that comes your way.

Celebrating your achievements

Celebrating your achievements is essential for staying motivated and on track. It allows you to recognise your progress, feel proud of your accomplishments, and stay focused on your goal. Here are some ways to celebrate your achievements:

  1. Treat yourself to something you enjoy.
  2. Share your success with friends and family.
  3. Reflect on what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown.
  4. Set new goals and challenges for yourself.

Celebrating your achievements will help you stay motivated and focused on your goal. It will also remind you of why you started and what you’ve accomplished so far.


Q1. What should I do if I don’t achieve my goal?

If you don’t achieve your goal, don’t get discouraged. It’s essential to reflect on what went wrong and why you didn’t achieve your goal. Use this experience as a learning opportunity and adjust your action plan accordingly. Remember, setbacks and failures are a natural part of the goal-setting process.

Q2. How do I stay motivated when I encounter obstacles?

To stay motivated when you encounter obstacles, focus on why. Why did you set this goal in the first place? What motivated you to start this journey? Keep your reasons in mind and stay positive. It’s also essential to take breaks, celebrate your progress, and surround yourself with supportive people.

Q3. Is it okay to adjust my goals if I realise they are unrealistic?

Yes, it’s okay to adjust your goals if you realise they are unrealistic. In fact, it’s essential to be flexible and adapt your goals as necessary. If you find that your goal is too challenging or unrealistic, adjust it to make it more achievable. The key is to stay focused on your end goal while being flexible with your approach.

Q4. How can I make sure my goals are aligned with my values and priorities?

To ensure your goals are aligned with your values and priorities, take some time to reflect on what’s important to you. What do you want to achieve in your personal or professional life? What are your values and priorities? Use this reflection to guide your goal-setting process and ensure that your goals align with what matters most to you.

Q5. How often should I review and update my goals?

It’s essential to review and update your goals regularly. This will help you stay on track and adjust your approach as necessary. How often you review and update your goals depends on your specific situation and timeline. Some people review their goals daily, while others review them weekly or monthly. The key is to find a cadence that works for you and stick to it.


Setting goals that actually work is not easy, but it’s essential for personal and professional growth. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can set achievable goals, create an action plan, track your progress, overcome obstacles, stay motivated, and celebrate your achievements. Stay focused, stay positive, and keep moving forwards.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: