How to get better at goal-setting

Have you ever set yourself a goal, all motivated and ready to start achieving, when out of nowhere, you get knocked for six?

It could be because an unexpected hurdle reared its ugly head and collided with your path to success. It could be because you lost that motivation that you desperately needed (not that motivation really exists, anyway). Or it could be because you’re rubbish at goal-setting.

Yup, it’s probably that last one. Here’s my secret to getting better at setting achievable goals.

One achievable goal

If you’re getting started with goal setting, you’ll have to contend with the easiest part first: setting a big goal. Make this your overall target, what you’re working towards. Let’s take my go-to example: going to the gym. My overall Big Picture Goal (capitalised and italicised for dramatic effect) is to get bigger muscles.

Simply stating my goal, however, isn’t going to get me there. That’s where step two comes in.

Several mini goals

Next, you’ll want to break down your big goal into mini goals. The Why behind why we do this is simple: wanting bigger muscles will get me no closer to getting bigger muscles. It’s outlandish, vague and not quantifiable. I won’t be able to say, definitively, that my muscles are big enough; it’s a bit too open, a bit endless.

So, here are some mini goals to set along the way:

  • Lift heavier weights
  • Eat more food
  • Get enough sleep
  • Don’t overwork
  • Stay healthy

Making quantifiable goals

Right, we’ve got our mini goals, and they’re helping me to visualise the journey towards success, but we’re still not there because I still can’t say for certain that I’ve met these targets. Make your goals quantifiable (that means giving them a number to aim for) so that you’ll know when you’ve achieved them.

For example…

  • Add 2kg to my bench press
  • Work out the minimum number of calories I need to eat per day and eat 500 more than that to gain weight
  • Go to bed by 11pm
  • Stop working at half five
  • Save sweet treats for only two days of the week

Give your goals deadlines

Okay, nearly there – now it’s time to give your goals deadlines. Teachers do this for their students all the time because it keeps them on track, but in the Adult World, you won’t have Mr or Mrs so-and-so breathing down your neck on the hand-in deadline. You’ll need to take charge of setting yourself deadlines so that you’re constantly moving forward.

Let’s go back to my goals and quantify them:

  • Every 2 weeks, I’ll aim to add 2kg to my bench press
  • Every weekday, I’ll eat 500 extra calories by making protein smoothies
  • I’ll start by going to bed by 11:30pm tonight, then 11:20pm tomorrow, etc…
  • I’ll work smarter during the day so that I can clock off by half five every day to avoid burnout
  • I’ll reduce the number of weekdays that I’m snacking for by one each week to ease my body into this new diet.

By setting a big goal, you’ll give yourself a Big Picture to strive for. By setting smaller goals, you’ll be breaking that down into smaller steps. By quantifying and giving deadlines to your goals, you’ll ensure that you achieve something by a certain point in your life.

And by doing that, you can make sure that you’re always moving forward. What tips do you have for achieving your goals? I’d love to read them in the comments below.


While you’re here, you might also like…

Forget goal setting: get more intentional in your journaling and maximise your productivity

Are you a teacher? Then do these things as soon as possible!

Building healthy habits is easier than ever with this method

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