Goal Setting Guide

Goal Setting Guide

Goal Setting Guide

“Goals are dreams with deadlines”- Napoleon Hill
Set your goals on a number of levels:

First you create your “big picture” of what you want to do with your life (over say the next 5, 10 years), and identify the large-scale goals that you want to achieve. Then, you break these down into the smaller and smaller targets that you must hit to reach your lifetime goals. Finally, once you have your plan, you start working on it to achieve these goals.

This is why we start the process of goal setting by looking at your lifetime goals. Then, we work down to the things that you can do in, say, the coming year, next month, next week, and today, to start moving towards them.

Tips and adviceTip: Breaking down your yearly goals into 90 day cycles of achievement can be very effective.

For example, if your goal is to be able to lose 12 pounds in weight, do not focus on this goal.

Aim to lose one pound a week for the next 12 weeks and it will be a lot easier to manage and will increase your chances of success massively.

Re-evaluate your current goal after the 90 days has expired If you wanted to lose weight, what would you do? Decide how much you want to lose (your goal)

Make a Plan:

  1. Set a target, what weight do you want to be?
  2. Choose a diet
  3. Throw out all the fatty foods in the fridge and cupboards
  4. Join a Gym or devise an exercise program
  5. If you really intend to succeed tell EVERYONE
  6. If you are ultra serious offer to lose weight for charity
  7. Set long term goals “I will lose 12lbs”
  8. Shorter term achievable goals “ I will lose at least 1lb per week”
  9. Reward yourself when major milestones have been achieved -not food :)
  10. Get a friend to check your weight or join a diet club

Step 1: Setting Lifetime Goals

how to set smart goals“As long as you are going to be thinking anyway, think big”- Donald Trump

The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your lifetime (or at least, by a significant and distant age in the future). Setting lifetime goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision making.

To give a broad, balanced coverage of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some of the following categories (or in other categories of your own, where these are important to you):

  • Career & Business – What level do you want to reach in your career, or what do you want to achieve?
  • Do you want to start your own business? If so what type and how?
  • Financial – How much do you want to earn, by what stage? How is this related to your career goals?
  • Education – Is there any knowledge you need to acquire in particular? What information and skills will you need to have in order to achieve other goals?
  • Family – Do you want to be a parent? If so, how are you going to be a good parent? How do you want to be seen by a partner or by members of your extended family?
  • Artistic – Do you want to achieve any artistic goals?
  • Attitude – Is any part of your mindset holding you back?
  • Is there any part of the way that you behave that upsets you? (If so, set a goal to improve your behaviour or find a solution to the problem.)
  • Physical – Are there any athletic goals that you want to achieve, or do you simply want good health deep into old age? What steps are you going to take to achieve this?
  • Pleasure – How do you want to enjoy yourself? (You should ensure that some of your life is for you!)

Tips and adviceSpend some time brainstorming these things, and then select one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do. Then consider trimming again so that you have a small number of really significant goals that you can focus on.

As you do this, make sure that the goals that you have set are ones that you genuinely want to achieve, not ones that your parents, family, or employers might want. (If you have a partner, you probably want to consider what he or she wants – however, make sure that you also remain true to yourself!)

Productivity studies show that most people can’t focus on more than 5-7 items at any one time. My wife says that as I am a man, that figure is reduced to one :) Don’t try to take on too many things with a long list of objectives. Focus on a handful of objectives – the ones you care about most – and the ones that you can almost repeat from memory.


Step 2: Setting Smaller Goals

Once you have set your lifetime goals, set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan.

Then create a one-year plan, six-month plan, and a one-month plan of progressively smaller goals that you should reach to achieve your lifetime goals. Each of these should be based on the previous plan. Then create a daily To-Do List of things that you should do today to work towards your lifetime goals.

At an early stage, your smaller goals might be to read books and gather information on the achievement of your higher level goals. This will help you to improve the quality and realism of your goal setting.

Finally review your plans, and make sure that they fit the way in which you want to live your life.

Staying on Course

Once you’ve decided on your first set of goals, keep the process going by reviewing and updating your To-Do List on a daily or weekly basis. Have you achieved this weeks goals. If not why not and what do you need to do to get back on track?

Periodically review the longer term plans, and modify them to reflect your changing priorities and experience. (A good way of doing this is to schedule regular, repeating reviews using a computer-based diary. I use this one, www.lifetick.com the basic version is free & the upgrade is only $20 a year)


A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants (some of which we’ve included in parenthesis), SMART usually stands for:

S – Specific (or Significant).
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
T – Time-bound (or Trackable).


Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do.

Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model. WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organize, coordinate, lead, develop, plan, build etc. WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish? HOW are you going to do it? (By…?)

Ensure the goals you set are very specific, clear and easy. Instead of setting a goal to lose weight or be healthier, set a specific goal to lose 2cm off your waistline or to walk 5 miles at an aerobically challenging pace.


measure your succesIf you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

In the broadest sense, the whole goal statement is a measure for the project; if the goal is accomplished, then it is a success.

However, there are usually several short-term or small measurements that can be built into the goal.

Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. How will you see when you reach your goal? Be specific! “I want to read all the books in Marc’s library before my birthday” shows the specific target to be measured. “I want to read more” is not as measurable.

Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goals.


When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

Goals you set which are too far out of your reach, you probably won’t commit to doing. Although you may start with the best of intentions, the knowledge that it’s too much for you means your subconscious will keep reminding you of this fact and will stop you from even giving it your best.

A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you. For instance, if you aim to lose 20lbs in one week, we all know that isn’t achievable. But setting a goal to loose 1lb and when you’ve achieved that, aiming to lose a further 1lb, will keep it achievable for you.


Tips and adviceReward Yourself: As you achieve a goal, then reward yourself with something special.

Reward each small achievement.

If its a big goal then when you are in the planning stage set the rewards. “Once I get the sales to $1000 a week I will take the family to Disneyland,” tell the family first, you now have created yourself a fan club AND someone to motivate you if things go astray. The feeling of success which this brings helps you to remain motivated.



This is not a synonym for easy. Realistic, in this case, means “do-able”. It means that the learning curve is not a vertical slope; that the skills needed to do the work are available; that the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organization. A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it shouldn’t break them.

Devise a plan or a way of getting there which makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. A goal of never again eating sweets, cakes, crisps and chocolate may not be realistic for someone who really enjoys these foods.

For instance, it may be more realistic to set a goal of eating a piece of fruit each day instead of one sweet item. You can then choose to work towards reducing the amount of sweet products gradually as and when this feels realistic for you.

Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!


time to change your lifeSet a time-frame for the goal: for next week, in three months, by fifth grade.

Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards.

If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague.

It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.

Time must be measurable, attainable and realistic.

Everyone will benefit from goals and objectives if they are SMART. SMART, is the instrument to apply in setting your goals and objectives.

In the next article there are some great goal setting tips to help you get started on your new life plan. To access it, go here: 18 Goal Setting Tips

Author: Marc Walton

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