How to Set and Achieve Goals

Stay motivated, committed, and moving forward

Climbers reaching the top of a mountain
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Goals are objectives, targets, purposes, intentions, and plans that you intend to achieve. They can be personal or support the objectives of your work organization. Whether your goal is a promotion at work, a streamlined work process, a new customer, a published article, an exercise program, or weight loss, the goal must be your goal. You are less likely to achieve your manager’s goal, your spouse’s goal, or the goal you think you ought to work on this year.

Set Goals Based on Values

Hyrum Smith, the founder of Franklin Quest, later Franklin-Covey Inc., developed a "Success Triangle" that puts governing values at the base of the goal-setting process and recommends linking every goal to a governing value. For example, if diversity in the workforce is a value your organization espouses, then at least one goal must further diversity. Every goal should be linked to a governing value.

Establish short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals based on the solid foundation of your values. If your goal is congruent with and allows you to live your most important values, you are more likely to accomplish the goal.

Gene Donohue of suggests setting goals in all aspects of your life to maintain your life balance. You are less likely to experience warring priorities if every aspect of your life has a value-based goal. He suggests setting goals in the following areas:

  • Family and home
  • Financial and career
  • Spiritual and ethical
  • Physical and health
  • Social and cultural
  • Mental and educational

Listen to Your Positive Voice

Each of us has the voice of our subconscious, judging self in our heads. On a daily basis, you engage in self-talk and comment on each situation you encounter. You discuss events and plans in your mind.

Your commentary is both positive and negative. Positive thoughts and planning support the accomplishment of your goals. Negative thoughts and comments undermine your self-esteem and self-confidence and negatively impact your ability to accomplish your goals.

Listen to your voice. You can change its tone by believing in yourself and in your ability to accomplish your goals and resolutions.

If you are a manager, one of your more important tasks is to support the development of positive self-esteem by your staff members. Your positive outlook and belief in their success at accomplishing great goals foster their increased self-esteem and self-confidence. This, in turn, magnifies their ability to accomplish more and contribute more to your business.

Paint a Vivid Outcome

Traditionally, goals were established around measurable outcomes. But don’t tie yourself to setting only measurable goals; you may find yourself concentrating on the trivial because it is measurable rather than on your most important outcomes. Sometimes the most important goals—the nonurgent, critical goals—are hard to measure.

“Explore alternatives for a business in the World Wide Web” is tough to measure, whereas the steps are easy to measure. “Learn about new options and think about performance management” is tough to measure in any significant way. As you move up the management ranks, the key measurable aspects of your job will likely be the results produced by your reporting staff. With hard-to-meausure goals, start with a picture in your mind that describes the outcome you are seeking. Make the picture as vivid as you can.

Write Your Goals

Writing out your goal is your commitment to achieving the goal. Its a powerful statement compared with half-formulated thoughts in the back of your mind. It is the conscious promise to yourself to pay attention to the accomplishment of the goal. Writing out potential action plans and due dates make the goal even more powerful.

Share Your Goals With People Who Are Important to You

If you are certain your significant others will support your goals, share them. Your manager is likely to support your accomplishment since your success is her success.

Honestly assess the ability of your family members, peers, and friends to provide support. In close relationships, many different feelings, experiences, and historical events are at play. If you don’t believe you will have wholehearted support, keep the goals to yourself.

Check Goal Setting and Achievement Progress Regularly

One of the weaknesses of any annual appraisal system is the lack of frequency of progress and success measurement and tracking. You are most likely to accomplish the goals you set if you review them daily as part of your normal planning process.

Whether you use a paper planner, a smartphone, or a computer, enter your goals and schedule daily and weekly actions that support their accomplishment. The discipline of the daily review is a powerful goal accomplishment tool.

Take Action to Identify and Eliminate Obstacles to Goal Setting Success

Simply tracking your goals daily is not enough. If you’re unhappy with your progress, assess what is keeping you from accomplishing the goals. Ask yourself questions such as, “Is this goal really important?” Perhaps reevaluate the goal.

”Are there specific obstacles you are experiencing which are interfering with your ability to accomplish the goal?” In this case, make action plans to remove the obstacles or seek help from a coworker, friend, or family member.

If you are not making progress on a particular goal, attempt to do a root-cause analysis to determine why. Only by honestly analyzing your lack of progress can you determine the steps to take to change.

Reward Yourself and Celebrate Goal Accomplishment

Even the accomplishment of a minor goal is cause for celebration. Don’t depress yourself with thoughts about all that you still have to do. Celebrate what you have done. Then move on to the next milestone.

Goals and New Year Resolutions Change

Periodically look at the goals you have set. Are the goals still the right goals? Give yourself permission to change your goals and resolutions based on changing circumstances.

Don’t spend an entire year failing to achieve a particular goal. Your time is better spent on achievement than on beating yourself up for lack of progress. Maybe you made the goal too big or maybe you set too many goals. Do an honest assessment, change what needs to change, and move on.

Paying attention to these guidelines can make all the difference in your life and help power your success.