How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

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.

How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

“What are your life goals?” is one of those questions that can put people in an uncomfortable position pretty quickly. Most answer this question by laughing it off and responding with something like “eating pizza with no pants on while watching Netflix – that’s what I really want.”

How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to beStocPic via Pexels

The thing is, nobody wants to take the time to write down their life goals. People live busy lives, and when they do have the time, they’d rather kick it in front of the TV or lay on the couch playing with their phones.

From personal experience – take the time, it makes a world of difference.

What exactly are life goals? Simply put, they’re the things you would like to accomplish in your life. Life goals are the big things to work for and accomplish such as getting married and having a family, starting your own business, becoming a big-time executive, or traveling the globe. Life goals are essentially everything you want to do in life before passing on. They’re the stuff people remember you by when you are no longer around.

Why are goals so important? Setting goals gives you purpose, and they help you to guide your life. Think of life goals as your North Star. They’ll guide you where you want to go, but it’s still on you to choose the path to get there.

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of what life goals are, let’s talk about how to set and start working towards them.

Setting life goals in 30 minutes or less

Most people already have a decent idea of what they truly want in life, they just haven’t taken the time to write it down. If that’s you, great. If you have no clue what you want, that’s okay too, I’ll walk you through it.

Even if you’ve already gone through a similar exercise as I’m about to describe, try not to brush off the following activity just yet. Maybe it’s been a while and some of your goals have changed. Maybe there’s a few more things you really want that eluded you before. It may be worth it to go through and rework your plan a bit.

1. Brainstorming your life goals

Find a quiet place to sit and work on this section for 5-10 minutes. If you find yourself hitting a roadblock, try getting up and going for a walk, or perhaps taking a shower. Some of my most inspirational thinking has come from my time spent in the shower.

  • Think about everything in your life that is really important to you.
  • Think about the couple of things you’ve really been pondering lately or your biggest struggle in life.
  • There are plenty of areas of your life you can set life goals in: careers, family, friends, other relationships, schooling, spirituality, traveling, fun, charity, money, health, and many more. These are just some to get your brain churning.
  • Write down anything and everything that comes to mind – all of the things you’d like to accomplish and those that sound fun or exhilarating to you.

2. Setting your life goals

The things you come up with during this exercise, by no means, have to be your definitive life goals for the rest of your life. As I said before, people change and so does what’s important to them. Just try to focus on the things that are important to you currently.

  • Look at what you’ve written down from your brainstorming session.
  • Narrow that list down to the things you absolutely couldn’t live without doing – those are your life goals.
  • Next try to clarify each of your goals with a specific target and a clearly defined outcome. You should be able to picture what your life will be like when you achieve the goal.
  • Pat yourself on the back for identifying what’s truly important to you.

3. Building a plan to achieve them

Once your goals are defined, the next step is creating a plan to get there. Many life coaches recommend using the Simpleology system devised by Mark Joyner. It’s called backward planning and is a method used by the US military.

To summarize, think about the last step needed to accomplish just one of your goals. If climbing Mount Everest was on your list, then literally your last footstep onto the summit should be what comes to mind.

Before that, you’ll need to come up with a team to do it with, a conditioning regimen to prepare yourself, travel plans, and much more. Work all the way backwards until you land on the first step that you need to take. It should be something actionable and achievable in the very near-term.

If you’ve done the exercise correctly and wrote everything down along the way, you’ll have a step-by-step plan for exactly what’s needed to accomplish your goal.

The rest is making it happen.

4. Getting after it

Once you’ve planned out each one of your life goals, you may feel slightly intimidated, and that’s okay. After all, these are your life’s biggest accomplishments to-be. The best way to start checking them off your list is to work on them one at a time.

Let me repeat. One at a time.

Choose just one of the things you’d like to accomplish, preferably the one that’s most important to you right now, and put your plan into action. Start adding the steps you drew out in the previous exercise onto your calendar and deciding when you’re going to take each step.

If your goal is something that’s going to take several years to accomplish, what can you do this year to get that much closer?

What can you do in the next few months?

Your goals become a lot less daunting when you focus on the smaller, more accessible steps you need to take to achieve them. Believe me, I feel overwhelmed in the little things I have to do day-to-day. I’m constantly reminding myself to take things just one step at a time. It makes everything manageable.

Once you’ve got all of your preparation done, it’s on you to go after it. Remember to choose just one life goal and focus as much energy as you can into it. If it’s something you truly desire, then motivation shouldn’t be a problem.

Ride that wave of energy and watch yourself accomplish amazing things over the course of the next 5-10 years.

Tom Casano is the founder of Life Coach Spotter. Learn more about setting your life goals and achieving them here.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclaimer for more info.

About the time I entered the “adult” world, I started to feel pressure to set goals in life. The kind that tells myself and other people that I have a plan of some sort. A vision for what my life will look like.

There was just one little problem, I had no idea I had no idea how to go about… well, anything.

I knew setting goals got a bad rap for a very real reason but I also knew that there were people out there who were setting goals and accomplishing them successfully. I didn’t know how they did it but I had a very real desire to know

Truth be told, sometime shortly after I graduated college and got married, I was a mess in life.

How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

There was a part of me that felt I had no reason to get out of bed in the morning and honest, there were many days I didn’t. I knew what I wanted my life to look like but I had no idea how to get there. It was awful.

There was a whole thing that had led me to be at that point: Josh had deployed three weeks after we got married, I moved to an entirely new place where I knew no one, and I didn’t have a job despite having this awesome degree I had just worked so hard for.

That’s just the gist of it. There was a lot that went into it but at some point, I think a small part of me had given up for a bit.

Given up on the idea that I could be happy right now… that was something that would happen in the future when my life looked the way I wanted or I finally got that thing I’d been waiting for.

Given up on the idea that it was worth the effort… life would just hand me another crappy hand of cards.

Given up on the idea that I was good enough…. What made me deserve the life I wanted?

I’m really not sure what it was, but one day I woke up and had just had enough. I have no idea what triggered it or what I even did that day.

I just remember I woke up and that was it. Things were going to be different.

Since that day, I’ve scoured the internet for countless hours looking up “setting goals in life” and “intentional living tips”. I’ve read many many personal development books and listened to hours of podcasts.

I learned that like everything else in life, setting goals effectively, is a skill set. One that comes naturally to some, and leaves others having to work at it but the great thing about skills, is that it’s something anyone can work on improving if they want to.

It’s been a few years since I had that day and I can tell you, my life is completely different now.

Which is why I’m sharing 6 ways my life has completely changed since I started setting goals in life below.

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 setting increases motivation and performance.

Posted Nov 18, 2013

THE BASICS

  • What Is Motivation?
  • Find a therapist near me

How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

The ABCs of Goal Setting

Success in sports, as in any other achievement arena, depends on both skill and motivation. And motivation includes striving for particular goals.

In my Psychology Today blog titled “Goal Setting for Peak Performance,” I emphasized that coaches and parents should use the ABCs in teaching goal-setting techniques to young athletes. Specifically, goals should be Achievable and Believable, and athletes must be Committed to working on them. The importance of setting process versus product goals was also stressed. Process goals focus on actual acts of performance and learning, such as a baseball pitcher setting the goal of throwing a certain percent of first-pitch strikes; whereas, product goals focus on the outcome of performance, such as winning a league championship.

What other principles contribute to effective goal setting?

By applying the guidelines presented below, coaches and parents can help young athletes increase motivation, performance, and the amount of fun they have playing sports.

1. Set specific goals in terms that can be measured.

Specific goals are more effective in improving performance than are general “do your best” goals or no goals at all. An effective goal clearly indicates what a person needs to do to accomplish it. This means that you must be able to measure the performance that relates to the specific goal. For example, it should be possible to measure how much an athlete has improved on a specific skill or task (e.g., percent of successfully completed free throws) or the frequency of desirable behaviors (e.g., the number of times the athlete praised teammates).

2. Set difficult but realistic goals.

Difficult or challenging goals produce better performance than moderate or easy goals. The higher the goal, the higher the performance, as long as the goal does not exceed what the athlete is capable of doing. Goals should not be so be so difficult that the athlete will fail to take them seriously or will experience failure and frustration in meeting them. It is therefore important to set goals in relation to an individual athlete’s ability.

3. Set short-term as well as long-range goals.

Breaking down any long-term goals into smaller more attainable goals helps to promote achievement and success. Short-term goals are important because they allow athletes to see immediate improvements in performance and thereby enhance motivation. Without short-term goals, athletes can lose sight of their long-term objectives, and the sub-goals needed to attain them.

4. Express goals in positive rather than negative terms.

It’s best to set goals positively (e.g., number of passes made or shots-on-goal) rather than negatively (e.g., number of mistakes reduced). Positive goal-setting helps athletes focus on success instead of failure. Moreover, positive goals usually have clues on how to attain them. To turn a negative goal into a positive one, ask yourself a question: “What needs to be done instead?”

5. Set goals for both practices and games.

Setting goals for practice sessions is just as important as it is for games. Practices are the times athletes develop and hone their skills. When practice becomes meaningful as a result of being tied in with specific goals, athletes become more involved in what’s going on. Moreover, (a) setting specific practice goals, and (b) tracking progress toward them will help to reduce the drudgery of practice.

6. Identify specific goal achievement strategies.

One of the main reasons why goals are not accomplished is that athletes fail to map-out and commit themselves to goal achievement strategies. For example, if a hockey player wants to improve his/her speed by 5 percent, a productive achievement strategy could include skating additional 10 sprints after practice each day.

7. Record goals, achievement strategies, and target dates for attaining goals.

Once (a) specific goals have been set, (b) achievement strategies have been decided upon, and (c) target dates for goal attainment have been established, these should be written down so they can be referred to frequently. Some coaches and parents actually establish a formal contract with their young athletes to keep them focused on the activity and committed to it.

8. Set up a performance feedback or goal evaluation system.

Research indicates that performance feedback is absolutely necessary if goals are to enhance performance. Therefore athletes must receive feedback about how their present performance is related to both short- and long-range goals. Without such feedback, youngsters cannot track their progress toward goals and may be unable to see improvement that is actually occurring

9. Goals should not be “set in stone.”

Goals should be made to be revised, and they should be used as a guide. When athletes are helped to set realistic goals, they inevitably experience more success and feel more competent. By becoming more competent, they gain in self-confidence and become less fearful of failure. Perhaps most important, they discover that commitment to goals helps lead to success.

Putting Goal-Setting Principles to Work

To be effective, a systematic goal-setting approach must be designed and carried out. Simple procedures for doing this are detailed in a book that I co-authored with my colleague, Dr. Ron Smith. For information about Sport Psychology for Youth Coaches, click here.

Last Updated: December 23, 2020 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 15 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 81 testimonials and 93% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 1,639,001 times.

Whether you have small dreams or lofty expectations, setting goals allows you to plan how you want to move through life. Some achievements can take a lifetime to attain, while others can be completed in the course of a day. Whether you’re setting broad overarching goals or planning specific manageable goals, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Getting started can seem daunting, but you can build up to even the loftiest dream.

How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

Sydney Axelrod
Certified Life Coach Expert Interview. 30 June 2020. Consider areas of your life that you either want to change or that you feel you would like to develop with time. Areas might include: career, finances, family, education, or health. Begin to ask yourself questions about what you’d like to achieve in each area and how you would like to approach it within a five year time frame. [3] X Research source

    For the life goal “I want to be fit,” you might make the smaller goals “I want to eat more healthily” and “I want to run a marathon.” [4] X Expert Source

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

  • For the life goal “I want to open my own business,” the smaller goals may be “I want to learn to manage a business effectively” and “I want to open an independent book store.”
  • How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

    Sydney Axelrod
    Certified Life Coach Expert Interview. 30 June 2020. Give yourself a deadline within a reasonable time frame (no more than a year for short-term goals).

    • Writing your goals will make them harder to ignore, consequently making you accountable for them.
    • To become fit, your first goals may be to eat more vegetables and to run a 5k.
    • To open your own business, your first goals may be to take a bookkeeping class and to find the perfect location for your bookstore.

    How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

    Sydney Axelrod
    Certified Life Coach Expert Interview. 30 June 2020. Some good questions to ask yourself when figuring this out are: does it seem worthwhile? Is now the right time for this? Does this match my needs? [7] X Research source

    • For example, while a short-term fitness goal might be to take up a new sport within six months, ask yourself if that will help you reach your bigger goal of running a marathon. If not, consider changing the short term goal to something that will be a step towards meeting the life goal.

    How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

    How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

    How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

    Sydney Axelrod
    Certified Life Coach Expert Interview. 30 June 2020. In order for us to track our progress, goals should be quantifiable. “I’m going to walk more” is far more difficult to track and measure than “Every day I’m going to walk around the track 16 times.” Essentially, you’ll need a few ways of determining if you’re reaching your goal. [11] X Research source

    • “Run a 5K” is a measurable goal. You know for certain when you have done it. You may need to set the even shorter-term goal of “run at least 3 miles (4.8 km), 3 times every week” to work towards your first 5K. After your first 5K, a measurable goal would be “run another 5K in one month, but take 4 minutes off of my time.”
    • Likewise, “take a bookkeeping class” is measurable because it is a specific class that you will sign up to take and go to every week. A less measurable version would be “learn about bookkeeping,” which is vague because it’s difficult to know when you’re “finished” learning about bookkeeping.

    How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

    How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

    As a life and executive coach I work with a lot of people on their goals. Setting goals puts you in the driver’s seat, giving you the power to transform your life or take a company into the future. As enticing as that sounds, it is more common than not those goals are abandoned. To be successful, check your goals against my ten steps to help ensure you accomplish them.

    1. Belief. The first step to goal setting is to have absolute belief and faith in the process. If you don’t believe you can absolutely transform your life and get what you want, then you might as well forget about goal setting and do something else. If you are in doubt, look around you. Everything you can see began as a thought. Make your thoughts turn into reality.

    2. Visualize what you want. Think of what you deeply desire in your life or where you want your company to be a year from now. What changes have to take place? What do you need to know or learn? What spiritual, emotional, personal, financial, social or physical properties need to be addressed? The clearer you are with each of these dimensions will bring your vision into sharp focus. The clearer you are, the easier it will be to focus on making it happen.

    3. Get it down! Writing down your goals is key to success. By writing down your goals, you become a creator. Failure to write down your goals often means you will forget them or won’t focus on them. Have them written down where you can see them every day.

    4. Purpose. Knowing why you want to achieve your goals is powerful. Identifying the purpose of your goal helps you instantly recognize why you want that particular goal and whether it’s worth working toward. Knowing why you want something furnishes powerful motivation to see it through to the finish. After all, if the purpose of earning a million dollars is to put it in the bank for a rainy day, you probably won’t be as motivated as you will if you need it to pay for your child’s cancer treatment.

    5. Commit. This might sound obvious to you but it’s a step that has disastrous consequences when it’s taken lightly. Write a few pages about why and how you are committing to each goal; why it’s important to you, what it means to you, why the outcome is necessary and what are you going to do to make it happen. Without strong commitment you aren’t likely to follow through.

    6. Stay focused. By focusing on your goals, you manifest. You may not know how you’ll reach your goals but when you make a daily practice of focus, they become easier to reach. Having your goals written down somewhere where you will see them each day is a good idea. Your mind will notice that there is a discrepancy between where you are now and where you want to be which will create pressure to change. If you lose focus you can always bring it back. Without a regular practice of focusing on your goals you may be distracted by something.

    7. Plan of action. Being really clear about what you want, knowing your purpose, writing your goals down, committing to them, and staying focused gives you the power of clarity to write down a list of action steps. You may not know all the steps ahead of time but you will know the next steps that take you in that direction. Having goals without a plan of action is like trying to complete a complex project without a project plan. There is too much going on, it’s too disorganized, you miss deadlines and you don’t have priorities. Eventually you get frustrated and the project/goal fails or collapses under its own weight.

    8. No Time Like the Present. To show how committed you are to your goals, think of something you can do right now that will get you moving toward fulfilling your goals. Even if it’s just making a phone call, do it now. You will be surprised how this simple step reinforces all the previous steps and gets you motivated and moving toward what you desire. If you are not motivated to do something right now, how are you going to get motivated tomorrow?

    9. Accountability. To push through when things get tough, you have to hold yourself accountable unless you bring in outside help like a coach who provides it for you. It makes sense to have someone beside yourself who can provide valuable feedback at critical junctures, like a friend or a mentor. Telling your friends and family about your goals may give you the accountability your need.

    10. Review. Make it part of your day to review your goals and take action. This keeps your goals alive and top of mind. It’s a good time to convert the over all plan into discrete action steps that you can take through out the week. It will also help you be aware if one goal feels stuck and you are over compensating on another goal.

    By following these steps and practicing your goals each day, you have all the elements you need to succeed and achieve your goals. It isn’t always easy to push through. Some days will be easier than others but if you keep focused on your goals you will be amazed at the progress you will make. Remember, almost everything begins as a thought. You can be what you imagine if you follow these simple steps.

    “The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them.

    Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams.”
    – Og Mandino

    I t has taken me a long time to learn how to effectively set realistic goals. As I made mistakes and figured out what worked for me, I thought I was unusual – I thought everyone easily set goals except for me. Over the years as I’ve worked with and mentored people, however, I’ve learned my situation was not that unusual – in fact, it’s far more common than we think.

    (Here’s a Free Goal Setting Cheat Sheet you can use to follow along)
    How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

    We’ve all been told that we should set goals, and we assume that we can – but most of us have never been taught how to set goals effectively so they are realistic and achievable.

    One of the most sobering goal setting statistics I learned in my research on setting New Year’s resolutions was that 25% of resolutions were broken in the first week. And the odds didn’t get much better for the first couple months – among gym goers, 80% drop out within eight weeks.

    I think a large part of this is due to not having realistic goals – without something to shoot towards, it’s easy to get discouraged and give up. It’s hard enough to make changes in our life and accomplish what we desire – if your goal is unrealistic, or not well defined, then you’re starting out with an immediate handicap.

    So, what can you do to keep your goals on track? Here are seven keys for setting realistic goals.

    Key #1 – Write Your Goals Down

    Studies and surveys have shown that you are far more likely to achieve your goals if you write it down. I personally like to write my goals down and refer to them daily to keep them at the front of my mind.

    Writing down our goals also helps make them real to us. If we just think about a goal, it’s not physically real – and it’s easy for us to change our minds. When we write it down however, the very act of writing helps us commit to the goals – and also gives us something we can visually see and reflect on.

    For more about written goals, see the article I wrote about a written goal setting study – and it wasn’t done at Yale or Harvard.

    Key #2 – Set Short Term Milestones

    Goals that are far out of reach are easy to procrastinate on and put off. It’s fine to have long term dreams – but in the short run, you should have regular mile stones as well.

    For example, if your goal is to write a novel, rather than just saying you’ll write a novel this year and leave it at that, instead commit to a certain number of pages or words a month – these short term milestones will help you stay on track, and will make your long term goal much more manageable.

    Key #3 – Be Specific

    If your goal is to “lose weight” – how will you know when you’re done? Going along with the above of setting short term mile stones, even if your long term goal is “get in better shape” – you can still be specific such as “be in good enough shape to play football for two hours twice a week.”

    The more specific you are, the better motivated you’ll be as you get closer to achieving your goal. With vague goals, it’s very easy to get discouraged, because you may not feel like you’re getting closer to due to having no clear end in sight.

    Use specific, tangible words in your goals such as measurements and (if applicable) a date by which they will be accomplished.

    Key #4 – Measure Actions as Well As Progress

    Sticking with the theme of setting fitness goals, many people I know get frustrated when they set a specific goal such as “lose 20 pounds by summer” – and then fall short of their goal. While it’s good to have aggressive goals, in some situations it may be better to measure your actions instead of your progress.

    So for example, instead of setting fitness goals based on pounds lost, you could set goals for the amount of cardio you do every week and whether you keep your calories below a certain threshold.

    This is also good for vague goals that may be difficult to measure, such as achieving proficiency playing a sport or playing an instrument. Setting goals based on perhaps 1 or 2 hours of practice a day may be more helpful than simply saying “get better before school starts.”

    Key #5 – Start With Just One Goal

    A classic mistake that I see over and over, and that I’ve made many times myself, is to be overzealous and try to change too many things at one time. You may decide you want to turn your life around and set out to accomplish a laundry list of goals at once.

    Unfortunately, trying to accomplish too many things at once is frequently a recipe for failure. For most people, changing too many aspects of their lives requires an overwhelming amount of willpower, and ends up being unrealistic.

    I prefer the approach advocated in Zen To Done – set one goal at a time, and then as you get that goal under control, slowly add more goals into the mix.

    Key #6 – Schedule In Time For Your Goals

    If you don’t make time for your goals, you’ll never accomplish them – it’s as simple as that. Along those sames lines, generally speaking, the more time you allocate per day to your goal, the faster you’ll achieve it.

    Rather than leave it to chance, I recommend scheduling a specific time every day for your goal. I think this is part of the reason why organized sports and personal trainers are so effective for people looking to improve their fitness – the activity has a set block of time on their schedule, and so people attend regularly.

    My bias is towards working on goals first thing in the morning – but find the schedule that works for you.

    Key #7 – Set Goals You Actually Want To Achieve

    Rumor has it that a philosopher in Europe once posted this message on his telephone answering machine:

    “This device is programmed to ask two simple questions:

    Who are you and what do you want?

    This last key took me a long time to learn, and I think really is the most important on the list. Don’t set goals because you think you “should” or because they “sound good.”

    Look at your life and the direction you want it to take – set goals that you realistically can achieve, but more important – pick goals you want to achieve.

    How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

    Many entrepreneurs, especially new ones, make the mistake of not setting clear enough goals. Good intentions may give a general direction in which to head, but for everything from crafting an effective action plan to visualizing what success means, a clearly defined goal is a necessity.

    So how can new entrepreneurs discover the goals they really want to reach? Below, 11 members of Forbes Coaches Council elaborate on their most effective steps for aiding clients in realizing their end goals — and creating the roadmap needed to reach them. Here are some approaches to consider, in order to see what works best for you:

    Members share a few approaches you can use to establish — and then reach — your goals.

    Photos courtesy of individual members

    1. Write A Letter To Your Future Self

    A powerful exercise for goal setting is to write a letter to yourself when you are 80 years old, while looking forward and visualizing your life. What goals did you set? What goals did you achieve? What are you most proud of accomplishing in your lifetime? Use the answers to those questions to define your goals and action steps from there. – Christie Samson, Capacity Worldwide

    2. Use The ‘Five Whys’

    Defining the right problem is challenging. Use the “five whys” to identify the real goal. Start with what they want, let’s say it’s a promotion. Why? More money. Why? Flexibility in my options. Why? I want to start a family? At this point you have gotten to your authentic why, the one that will keep you focused. It is what will guide your next steps. – Cynthia Howard RN, CNC, PhD, Ei Leadership

    3. Establish What Will Motivate

    Find something that your clients deeply desire. This will drive motivation and discipline more than anything else. Follow that with perseverance. – Gene Russell, The Corporation for Manufacturing Excellence, dba Manex Consulting

    4. Create A Clear Vision

    The first step to defining the goals a client wants to achieve is to develop a clear vision of what they want to achieve and anchor on why they want to achieve it. Their vision can then be broken down into detail around what “done” looks like and the corresponding action steps needed to achieve their definition of done. – Sabine Brandt, The Business Refinery

    5. Set Goals Around What You Want

    We set goals to solve problems and close gaps. However, this trains us to begin from a position of lack or weakness. Instead of goal setting around what you don’t have and don’t want, set goals around what you do want. Envision what life will be like once you achieve this state. What problems go away and what advantages emerge? And most importantly, visualize the sensation of achievement now. – Damaris Patterson Price, Working River Leadership Consulting

    6. Commit To Two Or Three Goals

    Pause to reassess your goals to determine if they are in fact your most important goals. Reconnect to what it is that drove you to do what you do. Ask yourself what you would regret not achieving in your work and life. Now ask yourself why this is important. Record a list of your values, needs and the way you would feel if you achieved your goals. Commit to two or three goals, and be accountable. – Jerome Zeyen, InsightHR Consulting

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    7. View Current Situation Objectively

    One actionable step to help new clients define their goals is to view their current situation from an objective standpoint. By starting with the end in mind, the client is able to work backward until they reach their current position. Through this process, they will have identified the necessary steps that will allow them to ascend to their next levels. We have in us all that we need. – A. Margot Brisky, ELDA4U

    8. Imagine A Well-Lived Life

    Imagine yourself at the end of your life or career and ask yourself what accomplishments or measurable events will have happened in your lifetime that give you the sense that your life was satisfying and well lived. Now look at what steps would bring you there and what might get in the way. – Christine Pouliot, Evocent Coaching

    9. Find A Mentor

    A mentor is someone who can provide some realism to what you are planning. That person is probably not a family member (who might not be so honest at times). Treat your mentor as a colleague and professional, and seek them out to share your ideas, dreams and challenges. A mentor, especially one in the field you are aspiring to, can honestly critique your expectations. – David J. Smith, David J. Smith Consulting

    10. Make A Commitment And Then Stay Consistent

    Fantasizing about wanting something does not make that desire a reality. You can do anything that you really want to do. Commitment gets you started. Consistency makes you finish. Therefore, mostly what we get out of life is how much we are willing to handle to get through it. We want the reward, not the struggle; the result, not the process. We are in love with victory, not the battle. – Kasia Jamroz, Alyka Solutions

    11. Develop Five Steps To Reach A Goal

    I invite new clients to get very clear about their goals by summarizing the experience of their desired outcome in one word or a short phrase that will anchor their actions. Then I encourage them to develop five bold steps that they’ll take to embody that word or phrase. And finally, I support them to break it down into one daily action that will move the needle in the direction of those bold steps – Carolina Caro, Carolina Caro LLC

    How to effectively set goals in life to get where you really want to be

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