How to become goal oriented and achieve more in life

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How to become goal oriented and achieve more in life

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We all like to dream about being financially wealthy. For most people though, it remains a dream and nothing more. Why is that?

It’s because most people don’t set their mind to achieving that goal. They might not be happy in their current situation but they’re comfortable – and comfort is one of the biggest enemies of growth.

How do you go about developing that millionaire mindset? By following these simple steps:

1. Focus On What You Want – And Take It!

So many people are too timid to admit they want something and go for it. When there is something that you want to accomplish don’t think “I could never actually do that”, think “I could do that and I WILL do that”.

Millionaires play to win, not to avoid defeat.

This doesn’t mean to have to become a selfish jerk. What it means is becoming more assertive and honest with yourself. You don’t have to grab off other people. There is a big pot of unclaimed gold in the middle of the table — why shouldn’t you be the one to claim it? You deserve it!

2. Become Goal-Orientated

It’s almost impossible to achieve anything if you don’t set firm goals. Only lottery winners become millionaires overnight. By setting yourself attainable goals, you will get there eventually. Don’t try to get rich quickly — get rich slowly.

Let’s take the idea of making your first million dollars and expand on what kind of goals you might set to get there. Let’s also say you’re starting at a break-even position – you’re making enough to get by with a few luxuries, but nothing more.

Your goal for the first year can be having $10,000 in the bank within a year. It won’t be easy but it is doable. Next, you need to figure out the steps you need to take to achieve that goal.

Always look at ways to make growth before cutbacks. With that in mind, you might want to see if you can negotiate a pay rise with your boss, or if there’s another job out there that will pay better. You might be comfortable in your old job but remember, comfort stunts growth.

You may also have other skills outside of your workplace that you can monetize to boost your bank balance. Maybe you can design websites for people, at a fee of course, or make alterations to clothes.

If this is still not enough to make the money you need to save $10,000 in a year, then it’s time to look at cutbacks. Do you have a bunch of old junk that someone else might love? Sell it! Do you really need to spend $10 on your lunch everyday when you could make your own for a fraction of the cost?

If you are to become a millionaire, you need to start accumulating money.

3. Don’t Spend Your Money – Invest It

The reason you need to accumulate money is for step three. Millionaires tend to be frugal people, and that’s because they know the true value of money is in investing. Being your own boss goes hand-in-hand with becoming a millionaire. You’ll want to quit your regular job at some point.

Stop working for your money and make your money work for you.

Rather than buying yourself a new iPad, that $500 could be used to invest in the stock market. Find the right shares (more on that later), and that money could easily double within a year.

There’s not just the stock market — there’s also property, and your own education.

4. Never Stop Learning

The best thing you can invest in is yourself.

Once most people leave the education system, they think their learning days are over. Well theirs might be, but yours shouldn’t be. Successful people continually learn and adapt.

Billionaire Warren Buffet estimates that he read at least 100 books on investing before he turned twenty. Most people never read another book after they’ve left school. Who would you rather be?

Learn everything you can about how economics works, how the stocks markets work, how they trend.

Learn new skills. If you have an interest in it, learn everything you can about it. You’d be surprised at how often, seemingly useless skills, can become extremely useful in the right situation.

5. Think Big

While I advise to start off with small goals, you absolutely should have a big goal in mind. If you have a business idea, then that is your ultimate goal – to start that business and make a success of it. If you want to invest your way to millions of dollars and do little work other than research, then that is your big goal.

There is no shame in not achieving a big goal. If you run a business and aim to make $1 million profit in a year and “only” make $200,000, then you’re still significantly ahead of most people.

Aim for the stars, if you fail you’ll still be over the moon.

6. Enjoy the Attention

To be successful, you have to be willing to promote yourself and enjoy the attention to a certain extent. Now the attention doesn’t need to be on yourself, it could be on your brand, but attention definitely attracts money.

Never be embarrassed to get your name out there. That means finding a spotlight and being brave enough to step right up underneath it.

If you run a business, try contacting the local papers. You’d be surprised at how amenable they often are to running a story about you and your business, and it’s all free publicity.

Above all, remember: You control your own destiny. Push hard enough for anything and you’ll get it.

Ideas, insights and wisdom on how to better achieve your goals.

7 Habits Of Successful People That Will Make You Feel Unstoppable

How to become goal oriented and achieve more in life

Many people wonder how they can become highly successful, not realizing that they hold within them everything they need to achieve all of the success they desire.

Successful people are where they are today because of their habits. Habits determine 95% of a person’s behavior.

Everything that you are today, and everything that you will ever accomplish, is determined by the quality of the habits that you form.

By creating good habits and adopting a positive behavior, you too can become successful and live a prosperous life.

These 7 Success Habits Are Good Predictors Of Greatness

For thousands of years, success in human life has been studied by great thinkers and philosophers. I have personally studied the subject for more than 30 years. What I have found is that the very best people have developed good habits.

I have identified seven valuable habits that you need to develop if you want to perform at your very maximum in everything you do.

1) They Are Goal-Oriented

The first habit is to become goal-oriented.

You need to be a habitual goal setter, and dedicate yourself to working from clear, written goals every day of your life, forming daily habits. All highly successful people are intensely goal oriented. They know exactly what they want, they have it written down, they have written plans to accomplish it, and they both review and work on their plans as a daily routine.

I suggest you learn how to use the 80 20 rule to efficiently work toward achieving your goals.

2) They Are Results Driven

The second habit of highly successful people is being results driven.

This is made up of two practices.

  1. The first is the practice of continuously learning so that you become better at what you do.
  2. The second practice is that of time management. This means setting very clear priorities on what you do and then concentrating single-mindedly on the most valuable use of your time.

All really successful people are intensely result-oriented.

3) They Are Action Oriented

The third major habit you need to develop is that of continually taking action.

This is really the most important habit for material success. It is the ability to get on with the job and get it done fast. It is your ability to develop and maintain a sense of urgency, and a bias for action. Fast tempo in whatever you do is essential to your success.

You need to overcome procrastination, push aside your fears and launch 100% toward the achievement of your most important goals. The combination of goal orientation, result orientation, and action orientation, in themselves, will virtually assure great success.

I highly suggest you learn to use SMART goals to list achievable targets that you can measure and track.

4) They Are People Oriented

The fourth habit you need is people orientation.

This is where you put relationships in the center of your life. This is your decision to cultivate within yourself the habits of patience, kindness, compassion, and understanding. Virtually all of your happiness in life will come from your ability to get along well with other people.

The good news is that you can become a wonderful human being in your relationships with others when you decide to.

As Aristotle said, the only way that you can learn any habit is by practicing it on a regular basis. The more you practice being a truly excellent person in your relationships with others, the more you will internalize those qualities and actually become that person.

Focusing on being more pleasant with the people in your life is a great technique to promote a positive thinking lifestyle.

5) They Are Health Conscious

The fifth habit that highly successful people develop is health consciousness.

This means that you must fastidiously watch your diet, and always eat the right foods in the right portions. You must exercise on a regular basis, continually using every muscle and joint of your body to keep it limber and fit. And finally, you must have good habits of rest and recreation that will enable you, in combination with diet and exercise, to live out your years in a healthy state.

Remember, your health is the most important single thing you have, and it is completely subject to the habits that you develop with regard to the way you live.

6) They Are Honest

The sixth habit is that of honesty and integrity.

In the final analysis, the character you develop as you go through life is more important than virtually anything else.

Honesty means that you practice the “reality principle” in everything you do. You are completely objective with yourself and with the world around you. You set very clear values for yourself and you organize yourself around your values. You develop a vision for yourself and then you live your life consistent with your highest ideals. You never compromise your integrity or peace of mind for anyone or anything.

This attitude of honesty is critical to your enjoying all of the other good habits that you are developing.

7) They Are Self-Disciplined

The seventh habit, and the one habit that guarantees all the others, is that of self-discipline.

Your ability to discipline yourself, to master yourself, to control yourself, is the most important single quality that you can develop as a person. The habit of self-discipline goes hand in hand with success in every area of life.

If you would like some help staying motivated during your journey to the life of your dreams then checkout these inspirational success quotes.

Every one of these habits, being goal oriented, results driven, action orientated, people orientated, health conscious, honest and self-disciplined can be developed. You are where you are and what you are today because of your habits. Your habits have been developing, mostly accidentally, from the time you were an infant.

Today you can take complete control over the shaping of your character and personality, and everything that happens to you in the future, by making the decision, right now, to find the definition of the habits that will lead you to great success.

And when you develop the same good habits possessed by other successful people, you will enjoy having success in common. Your future will become unlimited.


The seven habits of successful people are:

  1. They are goal oriented
  2. They are results driven
  3. They are action oriented
  4. They are people oriented
  5. They are health conscious
  6. They are honest
  7. They are self-disciplined

This article was written by Brian Tracy who is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today.

Setting specific, measurable goals can provide a path to improve your career and achieve certain accomplishments. You can use goal setting when given a certain task or project, or to personally advance in some way. You can set goals towards promotions, creativity, education and many other various ways to improve your life and career.

Let’s look at why setting goals can help improve your career, what types of goals you can set and how to set goals.

Why setting goals is important

Setting goals is important because it gives you a framework to achieve milestones. Wanting to do or complete certain things in life is a great start. Goal setting provides a path for you to actually do them. There are two types of goals you should consider setting: short term and long term.

What are the short-term goals?

Short-term goals are more immediate goals you set for yourself to achieve your larger, long-term goals. You can think of short-term goals as milestones or stepping stones. Short-term goals usually exist in a short timeframe, anywhere from days or months to one or two years. Examples of short-term goals might include completing small tasks or projects, gaining experience or taking classes. You will use what you accomplished in the short term to complete your long-term goals.

What are long-term goals?

Long-term goals are usually large goals you want to achieve over several years. You will use several milestones to achieve long-term goals, setting short-term goals to achieve along the way. Long-term goals might include getting a job in a certain career, being promoted to a certain level or completing a lengthy, complicated project.

Setting personal goals

Setting goals for your personal life will help you reach personal achievements. You might set personal goals to advance several categories in your life for things like hobbies, health or education. Setting personal goals can help you achieve success in your career as well.

Advancing your interests by building experience in hobbies you enjoy or skills you want to improve can easily transfer into your professional life. These are often good things to include on your resume if relevant to the jobs you’re applying for. Spending time improving on things you want in your personal life can also help you be more focused and energetic at work by paying attention to your work-life balance.

Here are a few personal goals examples:

  • Advancing hobbies like playing a musical instrument or playing a sport
  • Improving on skills like graphic design or public speaking
  • Increasing your knowledge about a certain topic or area of study
  • Focusing on building or improving relationships
  • Financial goals like saving for a certain purchase
  • Physical goals like training for a marathon or completing a certain fitness challenge

Setting professional goals

Setting professional goals can help you both complete certain tasks or projects and achieve any personal career goals you might have. If your company or manager doesn’t have a specific framework for you to set goals in your job, you might consider setting your own career goals. You can also set your own goals if you are self-employed. Your career goals should address both your current situation and your larger long-term career ambitions.

Here are a few professional goals examples:

  • Being promoted to a certain position
  • Completing a large project
  • Solving a complex problem
  • Improving certain soft or technical skills
  • Successfully switching careers or industries
  • Getting a certain award or recognition

SMART Goals:

How to set goals

While there are several different ways to set goals, there are a few steps you can take to ensure the best possibility of success. Your goals should have five key elements to make them achievable. These five elements make up what is known as the “SMART goal” framework. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. Let’s take a closer look at how to set a SMART goal:

1. Make your goal as clear and detailed as possible

For example, instead of “I want to be better at public speaking,” you can say, “I want to successfully give a 10–15 minute presentation to an audience of 50 or more people.

2. Define how you will measure success

For example, if you want to switch from a job in sales to a job in marketing, you might set milestones along the way that address how to develop the skills and experience marketing employers are looking for. To do this, you might set your measurement as learning and focusing on one skill per month.

3. Check whether your goals are achievable

Setting goals you can accomplish within a reasonable timeframe will help keep you motivated and focused. You should work to understand the full scope of your goal ahead of time to ensure it is possible to accomplish.

For example, if you are in your first professional developer job and your goal is to become a senior-level .NET developer, you might need to set smaller, short-term goals before reaching this larger goal. If you find that a goal is not achievable because you don’t have enough experience, one of your new goals should be to gain more experience.

4. Make sure your goal is relevant

You should set goals that align with your values and contribute toward your long-term goals. Each goal you set should be relevant and meaningful to you, moving you closer toward where you want to be. To make sure you are setting relevant goals, you might ask yourself, “how will achieving this goal help me?” “Does accomplishing this goal contribute toward my larger, long-term goals? Why does this goal matter to me?”

5. Set a beginning and end date

Setting a timetable to achieve your goal can both help keep you motivated and on-schedule. Before setting a goal end-date, be sure to research all the milestones and possible roadblocks you might run into along the way. For example, if your goal is to get promoted to the next level at your company, you might give yourself six months. If you haven’t achieved your goal, you might give yourself extended time or reconsider whether your goal is achievable and realistic.

Setting both personal and professional goals will help give a structure and path to success. Many employers value candidates that have a record of setting and achieving goals. This shows that you can be a focused, goal-oriented employee. Employers often ask about goals in interviews, so you should prepare to talk about your goals and what you’re doing to achieve them during the hiring process.

  • Personal Success
  • Sales Success
  • Business Success
  • Leadership Success

If you have set specific career goals for yourself, you must start by creating an action plan for yourself. Successful people are future-oriented and practice Gap Analysis in their job.

The starting point of creating an action plan, requires that you are future-orientated, meaning you develop a long-term vision for yourself and to reach your career goals.

Dr. Edward Banfield’s work at Harvard over a fifty-year period concluded that the most successful people in our society have “longtime perspective.” They think ten and twenty years into the future, and they make their decisions each day based on this long time horizon. And so should you.

Use Future-Orientation to Reach Your Career Goals

The most important word in future-orientation to reach your career goals is the word idealization.This requires that you idealize or imagine your ideal future career in every respect. Successful people project themselves forward three to five years, imagine that their life is perfect and that they are doing exactly the right job for themselves.

If your work situation were perfect, what would it look like? What would you be doing? How much would you be earning? With whom would you be working? Where would you be working?

Once you have idealized your perfect job, ask yourself about the kind of person you would need to become to get and keep that job. What kind of skills would you have? How high up would you be in your field? What new talents and abilities would you have to tap into and develop?

Successful People Use Gap Analysis

Practice what is called Gap Analysis on your job. Look at the difference between where you are today and where you would like to be in the future. Where is the gap? What changes should you begin making, right now, to prepare yourself for the kind of job you want? As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

One of the qualities of successful people in every field is that they think about the future much of the time to achieve their career goals. The action plan of successful people calls for future-orientation in anything that they do. It is important that you think about the future as well, because that is where you are going to spend the rest of your life. And the more you think about the future, the more optimistic and positive you become. The more you develop a clear action plan and vision of where you want to be in the years ahead, the more likely it is that you will take the steps, each day, to make your vision into your reality.

Think about the future of your company as well. Look at the cycles and trends in your business. Think about where your company is going and what type of action plan your company needs to do to be successful in the future. What can you do to help?

The more future-oriented you are in your position with a clear action plan for your goals, the more you will be paid and the more rapidly you will be promoted. The more future-oriented you are, the better decisions you will make, the more positive impact you will have on your company’s operations and the faster you will reach your career goals. The more future-oriented you are, the more you will feel in control of your life, your career, and your personal destiny.

Action Plan: Become Goal-Oriented in Everything You Do

Successful people have clear, written goals and know exactly what they want in each area of their lives. With this type of action plan, successful people accomplish vastly more than people who are not sure or who are unclear about what they want.

Perhaps nothing can help you more in your attempts to be paid more and promoted faster than for you to become an intensely goal-oriented person. Fortunately, the skill of setting and achieving goals is something that you can learn quite quickly and then develop through practice, day after day. This is a truly effective action plan that you must use to achieve your personal and career goals.

The more goal-oriented you are at work, the more results you will get and the more valuable you will become. When you become intensely goal-oriented, you will use your time better and stand out from the others. You will attract more opportunities for greater responsibilities. By becoming intensely goal-oriented, you will inevitably get paid more and promoted faster.

I hope you enjoyed this article on how to achieve your personal and career goals by using gap analysis. If you are interested in learning how to get your ideal job and develop your competitive advantage, take advantage of my FREE video training course. In this video training course, I will teach you the 21 Ways to Get the Job You Really Want. People have paid thousands of dollars for the information I’m about to give you for free.

Sign up here to reserve your spot and register for my free video training course: 21 Ways to Get that Job You Really Want. Please share with your friends and family!

Last Updated: March 31, 2021 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Sydney Axelrod. Sydney Axelrod is a certified life coach and the owner of Sydney Axelrod LLC, a life coaching business focused on professional and personal development. Through one-on-one coaching, digital courses, and group workshops, Sydney works with clients to discover their purpose, navigate life transitions, and set and accomplish goals. Sydney has over 1,000 hours of relevant coaching certifications and holds a BBA in Marketing and Finance from Emory University.

There are 38 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Few things are better in this world than setting a goal and achieving it. Just like when athletes experience a type of “runner’s high” after a race, so too does completing any goal produce a sense of elation and pride. This article explores many ways of setting and pursuing goals. Goals won’t just complete themselves. You need to be regimented in your pursuit of them. Get started. Keep going. Achieve your aspirations.

How to become goal oriented and achieve more in life

Sydney Axelrod
Certified Life Coach Expert Interview. 30 June 2020. Studies show that when your goals are personally meaningful, you’re more likely to get ahead in life and achieve them. [2] X Research source

  • Oftentimes, this is the hardest part of the goal-making and fulfilling process. What do you want? The answer to this is often a mixture of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Buzz phrases like “stay true to yourself” clash with familial and work obligations. Find goals that promote a balance in your life – goals that make you happy and benefit your loved ones and others that depend on you.
  • Consider asking yourself some questions, such as “What do I want to offer my family/community/world?” or “How do I want to grow?” These questions can help you determine the direction to take. [3] X Research source
  • It’s okay if your ideas are fairly broad at this point. You’ll narrow them down next.

How to become goal oriented and achieve more in life

How to become goal oriented and achieve more in life

Sydney Axelrod
Certified Life Coach Expert Interview. 30 June 2020. Research shows that setting a specific goal makes you more likely to achieve it and can even make you feel happier in general. Be as specific and detailed as possible, remembering that you may need to break large goals into smaller sub-goals. [6] X Research source

  • Ask yourself some questions about your goals. What do you need to do to achieve them? Who will need to assist you? When will each stage of your goal need to be accomplished?
  • For example, “Be healthier” is too big and vague to be a helpful goal. “Eat better and exercise more” is better, but it’s still not detailed or specific.
  • “Eat 3 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and exercise 3 times a week” is specific and concrete, making it much easier to achieve.
  • You also need to build the scaffolding for how you will achieve these goals. For example, to achieve your fruit and veg goals, will you bring healthy snacks along to work? Choose a fruit cup instead of fries the next time you eat out? For exercising, will you work out at the gym or go for walks in your neighborhood? Think about the individual actions you need to take to “add up” to your overall goal.
  • If you have multiple stages for your goals, when does each need to be accomplished? For example, if you’re training for a marathon, you need to have an idea of how long each stage of training will take you.

How to become goal oriented and achieve more in life

Sydney Axelrod
Certified Life Coach Expert Interview. 30 June 2020.

  • For example, if your ultimate goal is to buy a big house in the country, you will need multiple sub-goals to accomplish this. You’ll need to save up money, build your credit, even possibly increase your income. Write out each of these sub-goals, along with the steps to take for each.

Last Updated: February 13, 2021 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Guy Reichard. Guy Reichard is an Executive Life Coach and the Founder of HeartRich Coaching & Training, a professional life coaching and inner leadership training provider based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He works with people to create more meaning, purpose, well-being, and fulfillment in their lives. Guy has over 10 years of personal growth coaching and resilience training experience, helping clients enhance and transform their inner worlds, so they can be a more positive and powerful influence on those they love and lead. He is an Adler Certified Professional Coach (ACPC), and is accredited by the International Coach Federation. He earned a BA in Psychology from York University in 1997 and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from York University in 2000.

There are 25 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 16 testimonials and 100% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 414,630 times.

Most people have a dream in life, a vision of who or what they’d like to be in the future. At a minimum, everyone has interests and values that determine what they want out of their lives. Even so, trying to set to achievable goals that you’ll work for over the course of many years can be daunting. It can be hard to know where to even begin, and the things you hope to achieve may seem impossible. But, If you’re well-prepared you may be able to set goals for your life that are just as fulfilling to work toward as to achieve.

Goal driven or goal oriented means setting targets and objectives that will make progress throughout your life much smoother. A goal driven person will work much harder whenever there are deadlines to be met. To be successful in life there must be the desire to set goals and work towards achieving them. Success is what everybody desires and for many, they do not realise that they possess all the tools necessary to achieve that which they strive for.

For many people their achievements are attained from the habits. It is the quality of the habits they have that will determine how successful they will become. One of the good habits that one can form is to be a goal driven person.

To be goal driven and become successful requires at least two components namely preparation and motivation. In preparation you should be aware of the tasks ahead to be undertaken, and establish time saving mechanisms to efficiently utilise your time. Be organised so that your tasks may flow uninterrupted, make plans for the tasks ahead, have a clear idea of the sequences that need to followed so that you don’t get stuck at one stage of the task. It is wise to breakdown large projects into more manageable tasks. These tasks should be prioritised so that important stages can be completed first, this could boost morale and increase motivation. Keep in mind that the goal may not be achieved on the first attempt, in such circumstances it is wise to come up with an alternative plan.

Be motivated and keep a track of your progress, it might be necessary to reassign time to tasks so that they do not build up on you. Be positive in your thinking and do not become overwhelmed if at times you consider yourself to be behind in your tasks.

At times it is good to challenge yourself to keep in control of the situation and remain focused on the desired outcome. In the drive for achieving a set goal it is important to never lose sight of the end result half way through, and never anticipate what the final results may be before reaching there. It is prudent to be faithful to your goals and never give up, and remain focus to the end.

Successful people do not give up, but keep trying new ways until their goals are met. To be successful in attaining your goals, you should get on with the task at hand and continually take action and do not procrastinate neither at the beginning nor during the process. It would be prudent of you to be self -disciplined, and have the ability to master and control yourself. It is this self-discipline, which is essential in attaining your goals, and ultimately making you a successful person.

In the words of Albert Einstein “if you want to live a happy life tie it to a goal not to people or things”.

If this article speaks to you or you know someone who would benefit from this, please share. Help me to empower individual one step at a time.

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This article has 3 comments

Your article is an eye opener for a person who wants to learn and grow.

There’s nothing in life that is insurmountable. Once you’ve set your mind to achieve your goal, no obstacle should make you give up.

A chunk goal may be broken into small milestones for it to be achieved.

Your article taught me that preparation and self confidence is key in everything in life.

Awesome, love it

I am happy to have found you:)
Preparation and self confidence is the main driven in attaining goals in lifr
I am feeling grateful
Dont stop growing and always keep learning!!

Five research-based ways to help children and teens attain their goals.


  • What Is Motivation?
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How to become goal oriented and achieve more in life

If you are an employed adult, you know that most organizations have written goals and objectives. That’s because goal-setting is a common practice in the workplace—and for good reason. Written goals provide a road map by which employees can measure their efforts and see how they contribute to the success of work teams and ultimately, to their companies.

In the same way, goal-setting helps motivate athletes, entrepreneurs, and individuals to achieve at higher levels of difficulty.

But goal-setting isn’t just for adults. In fact, being goal-oriented is a critical part of how children learn to become resourceful, which is defined as one’s ability to find and use available resources to solve problems and shape the future.

“Goal setters see future possibilities and the big picture,” says Rick McDaniel in a Huffington Post article. He discusses the important difference between being a goal setter and problem solver, the latter often getting bogged down in roadblocks. “Goal setters,” he says, “are comfortable with risk, prefer innovation, and are energized by change.”

Research has uncovered many key aspects of goal setting theory and its link to success (Kleingeld, et al, 2011). Setting goals is linked with self-confidence, motivation, and autonomy (Locke & Lathan, 2006). A 2015 study by psychologist Gail Matthews showed when people wrote down their goals, they were 33 percent more successful in achieving them than those who formulated outcomes in their heads.

Children learn to be resourceful through the practice of being goal-directed. In an article at Edutopia, teachers learn that fostering resourcefulness involves encouraging students to plan, strategize, prioritize, set goals, seek resources, and monitor their progress.

In similar ways, parents teach resourcefulness when they walk beside children through the everyday practice of being goal-directed rather than attempting to set objectives and problem-solving for kids.

The common approach that applies to both parents and educators is to involve children in their own goal-setting and decision-making. This promotes independence and collaboration with adults simultaneously.

The following strategies apply the research on goal-setting at home, in the classroom, or on the sports field.

Five Ways to Help Children Set and Achieve Goals

Children and teens become effective goal-setters when they understand and develop five action-oriented behaviors and incorporate these actions with each goal set.

  1. Put goals in writing. Goals that are written are concrete and motivational. Making progress toward written goals increases feelings of success and well-being. Using a goal-setting template can help children track their successes. A goal-setting smartphone app may motivate tech-savvy children even more. Some apps have gaming features that make goal-setting a fun way to achieve results and build new habits.
  2. Self-commit. For a goal to be motivating to a child, it must give meaning to a mental or physical action to which a child feels committed. This self-commitment becomes a key element in self-regulation, a child’s ability to monitor, control, and alter his own behaviors. This doesn’t mean that parents or teachers should not be involved in goal-setting. In fact, adults can serve as goal facilitators—helping kids see options, asking core questions, and providing supportive feedback.
  3. Be specific. Goals must be much more specific than raising a grade or improving performance on the soccer field. Here’s a simple formula. 1) I will [raise my grade in algebra from a C to a B]; 2) By doing what? [regular homework, and spending time with an online algebra program or game]; 3) When? How? With Whom? [increase daily algebra homework by 15 minutes to include a fun online interactive algebra practice; spend 15 fewer minutes on social media; get support from teacher/tutor for things that are not understood]; 4) Measured by [increased time spent; improved weekly test scores].
  4. Stretch for difficulty. Goals should always be challenging enough to be attainable, but not so challenging that they become sources of major setbacks. When working with a child on goal-setting, listen to what they think they can achieve rather than what you want them to achieve.
  5. Seek feedback and support. Part of the fun and motivation of setting goals is working on them in a supportive group environment. Even though goals are often individual in nature, children should be able to recognize how their goal is tied to their family values, the aspirations of a sports team, or the aim of a specific curriculum. When they understand this connection, they feel more open to seeking feedback and receiving support from adults. When goals are achieved, it’s time to celebrate with others!

Kleingeld, A., van Mierlo, H., & Arends, L. (2011). The effect of goal setting on group performance: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(6), 1289-1304.

Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2006). New Directions in Goal-Setting Theory. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(5), 265-268.

Matthews, G. (2015). Goal Research Summary. Paper presented at the 9th Annual International Conference of the Psychology Research Unit of Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER), Athens, Greece.

I was having lunch with a friend of mine on Friday and we had a conversation that I thought would be a good topic for my blog: The importance of setting goals. There are a lot of talented and capable people out there that would be in far better off positions had they set goals and made their important life decisions based on achieving those goals rather than moving through their daily lives rudderless (even if they didn’t know it at the time).

I feel I am suited to speak on this topic because I am a walking case study in the results of not setting goals and the beneficiary of setting goals. I don’t use my blog for dishing out unsolicited advice too often so I hope you will indulge me on this. I am going to break this down into 3 sections and I will relate it my field (architecture) – but it works across any professional discipline.

Task Oriented Individual

The task oriented person generally has lower level responsibilities. They are given a specific task to do and that’s the extent of their responsibility. This does not mean that the task is simple or not important; it just means that the extent of responsibility is limited to accomplishing a part of the whole. In my field, some examples of tasks might be to draw the interior elevations, or dimension the floor plan, or fill out the window schedule. These are specific tasks that do not extend the responsibility upward.

Objectives/ Results Oriented Individual

The results oriented person has more responsibility than the task oriented person because they are in charge of achieving a set result and have the responsibility of determining how to get there. That means they are in charge of the tasks and the tasks oriented individuals. These are the project managers who are told the goal, “this project needs to be released for permitting in 6 weeks”. The project managers then go about the process of breaking the goal into tasks that can be distributed among team members. This group is good at executing a plan to achieve the objective.

Goal Oriented Individual

The goal oriented individual does not get distracted by the process but rather stays focused on the big picture – the goal. Determining the big picture is what the best leaders do but you have to go through the process of collecting the skills and abilities to effectively lead. You need to understand the tasks, how they come together in a plan that fulfills the objective, and how all the objectives together achieve a goal. There aren’t any shortcuts, you may have the ability to move through these categories more quickly than others, but make no mistake, you do need to go through the process. Everyone has experienced the boss who micro-manages things – is this ever brought up as a positive trait?

Finally, and here’s the rub for me when interfacing with people who are in leadership roles who don’t have the experience to be leaders; just because you want to be the leader (goal oriented individual), and think that you are the boss (goal oriented individual), this does not make you the leader. It takes time, you have to earn it, and you have to be recognized by your peers as someone who is capable of being the leader and the one determining the big picture. But that shouldn’t stop you from setting goals – otherwise how do you measure your course and development? You set goals to help chart you through the growth and development process. If your goal is to become a partner in your firm, are your current responsibilities pointing you in the right direction? If you work for a small firm and the only way you are going to become a partner is if someone dies, when do you determine it’s time to leave?

Goals can help you achieve many things by focusing your energies toward the objective. I decided that I wanted to become a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) so I went in to my local chapter, had a conversation with the executive director to find out what type of things I would need to do in order to accomplish this goal. This process put me on the path where I started off participating on a committee, and then the next year I chaired that committee, always escalating the responsibilities of my role. I chaired the Dallas Chapter’s Gala event – the chapters largest and most high profile fund-raising event where we set a new record high for the total amount of money ever raised. The next committee I was a part of was a committee of two where we helped prepare the governance for the new Dallas Center for Architecture (DCFA) which involved identifying and establishing a dialogue with the outside groups that would participate in the center, and determining that a full time program director for the DCFA was needed. The following year I chaired the AIA’s home tour committee – the chapter’s largest public outreach effort. Only in its third year, we were able to build upon the previous years’ momentum and increase the total number of visitors to the event while spending less money.

For my efforts, I was presented with the AIA’s Young Architect of the Year award – something that I am proud of receiving because it is an award presented to me from within my peer group. The next steps to my goal involve participating on a state level and then on a national level. By having a goal, the number of decisions to make is reduced and my energies are focused.

You can look at the procession of events that I just described and see how an established goal (become FAIA) was broken down into objectives (participate in the AIA at the Local, State, and National levels) and then tasks (participate and chair certain committee’s). I established this goal about 5 years ago and the process of achieving this goal has shaped several important decisions for me.