Three Tips for Goal Setting Success


Like building a house, reaching your goals requires a strong foundation

A concrete idea of what you are setting out to achieve is crucial to the “foundation” of accomplishing the goal. Understanding what you are aiming for allows you to devise a plan around how to actually achieve it.


Learning from the past

Over the past few summers, I've set out at the start of vacation with the idea of a few goals I'd like to accomplish, only to come up short by the time the next school year reared its head. More realistically, I can’t say that I truly even set goals. In fact, my goal setting technique has been non-existent to date.

Around new beginnings throughout the year (a birthday, New Year, start of summer, etc.), I reflect upon what I would like to change about myself or things that I'd like to do in the upcoming months -- and this ends up being the extent of it. A week or two later, I have all but forgotten my vows and have resigned myself to the fact that I probably won’t make the efforts to change. 

Weeks or months down the line, regret usually sets in. For example, whenever if I get injured running I wish I had kept up with my strength training and stretching. When finals roll around I regret not reviewing my class notes each night like I told myself I would. 


This summer, I've written down my goals. But it wasn't easy!

I was pretty impressed that I even got myself to set aside some time to do it, and while it took a fair amount of time to settle on a list... it's done!

Now that I've gone through the process, I want to share what I've learned for creating your own list:


Three Tips for Goal Setting Success

1. Write ‘em down

In the past, I kept the ideas of what I'd like to accomplish in my head and would ruminate on them from time to time. After floating around my head for a few weeks, I would end up losing focus on them. I have finally realized that it is very unlikely that I will be able to make lasting changes without articulating clear and concise goals. For me, the only way to do this is to write them down.


2. Keep your list short

In the past, instead of focusing on one, two, or maybe three goals, I would aim for ten. Compounding the issue, I also wanted to see the changes all at once.
I've learned that I need to take it one step at a time. By focusing on a couple of goals, and approaching them with patience and diligence, you will be much more likely to succeed.       

3. Understand the "Why" behind each goal

A quick glance over my initial list of eighteen goals for this summer was daunting. I wanted to pare down, so I had to evaluate and prioritize. At first, I thought they were all equally important, but when I took the time to ask myself why I wanted to complete a goal or what the importance would be in my life, I could not come up with a meaningful answer for some of them.

This helped me widdle down my list, but it was still too long. Many people suggest 2-3 goals is an appropriate target. Next, I was able to distinguish between "stepping stone" goals that help me achieve longer term desires versus "fun" goals, things I just want to try out for novelty sake. I now have a list of “sub goals” consisting of the latter group that I will have on my mind, but they will not be the goals I dedicate the most time to, or that take top priority. 

As I learned, goal setting is no simple feat, but by taking the time to really examine where you are and where you want to go, you can set a course of action.

If you truly want change to happen, take the first step

Have you started thinking about your summer goals?

If not, carve out 30 minutes this week to do so. It may take a few days to finalize a list, but once that list is done, you will feel more confident about your ability to reach those goals -- I know I feel that way!

What helps you when trying to create a list of goals? Share with us in the comments below or on Facebook!


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