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Ten tips for goal setting success

It's the start of a new month! Are you setting out your schedule and looking at what you need to get done over the next few weeks? Whether you call it a goal, a project, a task or hobby, there are lots of things we need and want to accomplish in life.


On its own, this can feel overwhelming, unrealistic or unachievable which makes it easy to push to the back of your mind and put off for another day. With a bit of preparation, scheduling and accountability, it doesn't have to be a chore.


Here's my ten tips for goal-setting success.


The sun silhouettes a man standing on top of a mountain holding a target with an arrow on bullseye above his head

Write it down. To communicate anything you first need to be clear about what you want to say, and writing helps this process. Clarity is important when it comes to goal setting so be clear and specific about what you want to achieve. Then commit it to paper.


Break down the goal… The gap between where you are and where you want to be probably feels overwhelming so break down your overall ambition into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. This will help the steps feel more manageable and so make the goal feel more achievable, increasing your chances of taking action.


…But stack up the successes. Every success achieved along the way will help develop confidence in your abilities and boost your motivation to continue. Don’t forget to plan time to actively celebrate these along the way too!


Focus on one action at a time. Tackling one action each day will compound over time to make significant progress. Work out what the next best step is from where you are right now and do one thing each day.


Be clear how much time you have to spend. Parkinson's law observes that, without a deadline, an activity will expand to take up all the time you have available. Just as you should schedule time to work on your goals each week, be realistic about how long you think each task should take, and how long you can spend on it each day. Then stick to your deadline!


Hold yourself accountable. Don’t just tell your notebook; tell a friend, tell your parents, tell the world. It can be daunting to share your personal ambitions with others but having people rooting for you is incredibly motivating. You never know, they might help you by sharing a resource, suggesting an idea or connecting you with relevant opportunities too.


Schedule time to review your plan regularly. Don’t wait for six months to go by before you check in on your progress. If there were goals you didn’t reach, what stood in your way? For goals you did accomplish, what helped you succeed and how did it feel? Reflect on what is and isn’t working and, if necessary, adjust your expectations.


Be ready to adjust your plan if needed. Goals need to work within your life and sometimes the unexpected happens. Try not to see it as a setback and give up on the plan completely, there are many different ways to reach the same destination.

Remember you won’t always feel motivated. Motivation will come and go so make a plan for what you’ll do when your enthusiasm dips. You might choose to go for a walk, call a friend or go for coffee with a good book. Try a few things until you find what works best for you.


Create ‘rules’ for yourself. You might be seriously low on motivation one day or completely swamped with unexpected tasks that need to take priority the next. So you can create rules to help guide you along the way. For example, if you've decided to do something every day, you might allow yourself to skip one day when you need to but won't allow yourself to skip two days in a row.

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