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How to Set Goals that You Can Actually Achieve

Written by Kate Ferguson, Friday, February 3rd, 2017 in Culture, Getting Things Done

The new year is a common time for evaluating where we’re at in life and setting goals, but commonly those new year’s resolutions just don’t stick. The problem isn’t usually in the end goal itself, but the way that we go about setting the goals. Generally we’re clear about the end result, but it can feel so far off that we don’t have any actionable process in mind to actually get there.

One important factor in goal setting is to set mini goals that you can accomplish on the way. That way you’ll actually be making progress and feel like you’re succeeding along the way. You’ll be less likely to set aside a project when you can see that you’re making progress on it.

Another way to look at achieving your goals is to notice the difference between the goal itself and the system that you use to get there. If you’re a writer for example and your goal was to write a book, the system that you would need to evaluate would be your writing schedule. If you don’t have one at all, it would be necessary to implement one. If you have one that isn’t working, it would be time to make some changes and find one that does. The same applies for working out or anything else that requires work to reach the end goal.

It might not be realistic to set up a system where you would be required to dedicate five hours a day to something. (Unless you don’t have a job.) You might be motivated for a couple days but it’s likely that burnout would occur. You can always go above and beyond the system that you have in place, so setting a realistic goal like an hour of work five days a week might be a good place to start. If you’re compelled to do more then you just do more.

Having a system that works is awesome, because then you focus on the work that’s in front of you instead of thinking about the end result all the time. When we assume that the end is where the success is, then we’re also sort of saying that we aren’t successful along the way. That’s no way to live, especially since we’re never done with our work or goal setting. Once we set one goal we tend to move onto the next one.

We also don’t have as much control over things as we would like to, so some of the time we can do the work well but still have to rely on outside sources to give us a shot anyway. That can be demoralizing if you’re assuming that success is the end, but when you realize that you’re knocking off smaller goals along the way then you can feel proud of yourself for doing the work no matter what happens. The more this becomes a normal habit the more it will open things in life anyway.

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