5 Keys to Setting Great Goals And Reaching Them!

Set a goal that Inspires You

One of the biggest reasons people fail to reach their goal is that the result wasn’t really something they desired. Often times, the goal just didn’t line up with their core values – it didn’t speak to them and it wouldn’t significantly impact their lives. While people set goals for a number of reasons, idle goals are usually set because of someone else’s expectation, or comparing yourself to someone else.  How many New Year’s Resolutions have gone by the wayside because it was a mediocre goal, casually tossed into conversation but never taken seriously? If you aren’t completely sold on the concept of reaching your goal, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.

Have you ever felt like you had to force yourself to stick to a diet? Bribe yourself to go to the gym? It’s not effective to create a goal that has you constantly pushing or tricking yourself to complete.  Clearly that isn’t a goal that moves you! An inspirational goal will draw you towards its completion – visualizing yourself once you have completed the goal will create a renewed energy and motivation to stay the course and reach the finish line.

From the very start, the key to reaching the end is to set a goal that moves you.  Something that will change the way you think of yourself once you have completed it.  Visualize what you will feel like once you have reached your goal. Will you feel stronger? Smarter? Faster? More confident?  Financially stable? Try to put yourself in your future shoes and really enjoy that accomplishment.  Is it something that inspires you?  If it does, then you’ve got a great goal ahead of you!

Make sure it is measurable

Speaking of finish lines, another reason goals often go unrealized is that there was no specific measure established.  Do you want to lose weight? Okay, how much weight?  Will you be happy if you lost 10 pounds?  What if you just lost 1 pound, would that be an achievement you could be proud of?

When I hear people say things like “I just want to make more money,” or “I want to get in shape,” it makes me cringe! It’s like hearing the death processional at a funeral for little goals – I know it’s the end before it even began.  If you were in the middle of a lake, how long could you tread water before you exhaust yourself and sink?  A measurable goal is like the shore – it gives you something to swim towards, a finite end that draws you towards it with each stroke of water.

Get creative when defining the measure of your goal.  If you want to get in shape, try choosing a performance goal like completing a pull-up, or a half marathon.  Those goals are not only measurable, but also beneficial in a variety of ways.  They take a good deal of training that will impact your fitness across the board – not just on the scale.  And remember the first step – make sure the goal INSPIRES you!

Set a deadline                 

By making a commitment to yourself to reach your goal by a certain date, you mentally give yourself a reasonable length of ‘sacrifice’.  It’s just like when your trainer says you’ve got 8 more reps, just as you were about to give out.  Your mind recognizes the task as something reasonable, where just moments before, you were convinced you couldn’t take another second.

Creating a deadline is also a method of keeping yourself on track. You know that you’ve only got a certain period of time in which to create the change that will lead you toward your accomplishment, and you don’t have any time to waste procrastinating or talking yourself out of doing what needs to be done. A deadline also helps to prevent distractions from derailing your progress.

So how do you choose a good deadline? It should be something that is possible, but challenging. The deadline is just as important as the goal itself! Losing 50 pounds in 30 days isn’t exactly realistic, but losing 10 pounds in 30 days is. On the flip side, losing 2 pounds in 30 days isn’t challenging at all, and wouldn’t require much motivation. Surprisingly, this would probably lead to your not reaching a ridiculously simple goal, just because it didn’t CHALLENGE you.

Bottom Line: once you’ve got your inspirational, measurable goal – choose a deadline that will give you a good run for your money, but is still realistic enough to encourage you to keep at it.

Create a to-do list every day; add at least one task to complete toward your goal

Statistics show that 81% of wealthy people keep to-do lists, opposed to only 19% of poor people, demonstrating that successful people habitually do some things different than people who are less successful.

Now, I don’t want you to just write down a bunch of things you have to do, would like to do, need to do, mom nagged you to do, someone guilted you into doing, should have done, could have done or want to do.  There should be a method to your madness!

You should start your to-do list each day with the things that absolutely MUST be done today, and they must be done by YOU. Then add the items that are not urgent, but are important.  Thirdly, add at least one item that will get you closer to your goal. Keep your to-do list manageable – at the end of the day, you should have completed each task on the list – so don’t overload yourself!

The key to an effective to-do list is that each item on the list is in line with your core values, and moves you toward reaching a goal in some area of your life. If it doesn’t, then it shouldn’t make the cut. Keeping your list focused will keep you focused, and making progress on the things that matter most to you.

Raise your standards

Once you have made a decision about your goal, how to measure it, when it will be completed – you have to raise your standards in order to stick to the plan.  Your standards involve your daily habits and choices.  Ask yourself, “What habits and choices got me to this point?” Chances are, you’ll notice that they are not the same habits and choices you have identified to move you toward your goal.  At this point, you’ve already got the road map. Now you must decide that you choose habits that will help you reach your destination, and discard any habits that don’t.

One of the reasons diets fail is because people feel unsatisfied because they are constantly denying themselves things they have come to enjoy.  “I can’t eat that, it’s not on my diet,” they’ll sigh, and every time they hit a perceived sacrifice, it weakens their resolve.  Serious pursuit of a goal requires a complete shift in your thought process.  The same choice becomes an empowering statement when it’s voiced, “No thank you, I don’t eat that.” People who are serious about losing weight don’t eat double quarter pounders with cheese and a side of fries.  People who are getting out of debt simply don’t go on a shopping spree after a fight with their significant other.  When you raise your standards, you change your habits. When you change your habits, you reach your goals.

(Written by Angela Cook, this article was originally posted on