7 Goal Setting Strategies That Actually Work

goal setting strategies

It’s important to know some effective goal setting strategies. Properly applied, they will help you set goals that really matter to you and that you can keep going with until you achieve them.

When you set goals, it’s natural to start off all fired up. Motivation gets you going, but that initial desire doesn’t often carry you all the way through to the end.

It helps to know how to structure your approach to whatever it is you want.

Once you do, your ability to achieve it is immediately enhanced.

Here are seven strategies to help reach your goals:

1. When it comes to goal setting, less is more

The more goals you have, the less you can give to each one… and vice-versa. Aim to limit your current goals to as few as possible -- one single goal would be ideal -- then focus on achieving it.

Each aspect of your life (health, finances, career etc.) can be goal orientated, but you may spread yourself too thin with this approach. You don’t want to be constantly working on your goals if it’s going to mean not stopping to ‘smell the roses’ now and again.

Instead, try to focus on one single goal at a time.

2. Work out what matters to you

Sit down with a pen and paper, then brainstorm ideas for your goal(s). Don’t worry about what you write; just put down whatever comes up in your mind.

Here are three useful questions to ask yourself that will help you work out what’s really important to you:

  • What would I do if I only had six months to live?
  • What would I do with my life if money was no object?
  • What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?

Done that? Now, here’s where you need a bit of patience…

Leave it for 24 hours. Come back to it the following day. How do you feel about what you wrote now? Whatever still floats your boat a day later is more likely to motivate you as a goal that’s worth working for.

3. Put your goal on paper that you can see

Once you have decided on your goal, write it down and put it somewhere you’ll see it each day. This is one of the most important goal setting strategies you will ever benefit from. In fact, of all the tips on setting goals, this one’s a ‘must do’.

Repeated exposure to what you want to achieve works at both a conscious and a subconscious level. Try it for a month to see for yourself.

4. Choose whether to go public or stay private

Should you tell others about your goal? It depends on whether or not that pressure will help or hinder your efforts.

Putting pressure on yourself makes you accountable to others. It can be an effective goal setting strategy, but it doesn’t make the process any more enjoyable.

If you trust yourself to work methodically towards your goal, you may find keeping it to yourself gives you a quiet sense of satisfaction as you progress without pressure.

5. Plan how you’ll get there

Goals are achieved step by step. You don’t always have to know all of them, but you certainly need to know what to do next. Invest some time to create an action plan and break your goal down into step-by-step sections.

Learn how to plan your day so that you make an appropriate amount of time available to work on the next actions that will move you nearer to achieving your goal.

6. Do something every day to move you towards your goal

Action in itself is not a strategy, but the system you use to ensure you do something is.

The best way to do this? Do something daily. Take as much regular, focused action as you’re able to, each and every day. Follow the ‘One Day Off’ rule -- if you miss a day (it’s bound to happen), do everything you can to pick up where you left off. Work on your goal the following day so that you only ever skip one day at a time. This will keep the fire burning.

Do as much as you feel like on the proviso that you must and just do something daily. You ‘must’ maintain the momentum and do ‘just’ enough to reduce the risk of resistance from within. Simply recording what you do is an effective way to do this.

7. Adjust, adapt, enjoy and keep going

This isn’t so much a specific goal setting strategy as a necessary mindset. Goals take time, thought and effort. Expect to re-make plans, re-trace steps and overcome the inevitable obstacles.

Persistence is what separates goals from wishes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the process itself. Goal setting strategies may appear to be future focused, but they should actually improve your present reality. Nothing is more important than now.

Each of these goal setting strategies will make your goal more meaningful, motivating and achievable. Used together, you have a blueprint for how to set goals.

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