How to set goals and reach them



Every year, on the first of January, millions of people wake up convinced that life is going to get better. With heads full of resolutions, goals and targets, we tell ourselves that this year is going to be different. This time things will change because we’re going to try really hard. Then by February we’ve given up.

Why is that? Why is it that statistically 92% of people struggle to meet their goals?

The answer is simple – we are too vague.

‘I need to lose a few pounds.’

‘I have to find a better job.’

‘I need to stand up for myself more.’

These statements may have good intentions behind them, but all your mind is going to do is agree with you – ‘yep, you’d be happier if you were healthier, with a job you enjoyed and everyone treated you better.’ Well that goes without saying, wouldn’t we all be happier with that?

According to leading psychological researcher Edwin Locke, ‘Goal setting is most likely to improve task performance when the goals are specific and sufficiently challenging.’

So what does that mean?

It means we need to be a lot more precise with what it is we want to achieve.

Goals are not a wishy-washy wish list. In order to gain confidence as a result of meeting your objectives, and therefore continue the momentum to persevere to the next goal, one must feel that what they are doing is working. Therefore the goals can’t be too easy or vague or they either won’t be met, or they will be met without satisfaction.

The secret to reaching your goals is to ensure that they are both challenging, specific and measurable. In other words goals need to be attainable…but after some hard work. After all, the sense of satisfaction in crossing off your goals in life’s To Do list is the empowering push that will get you to the next one.

Here are five easy ways to ensure that you can meet your goals:

  1. One step at a time

Don’t try and multitask. In order to reach your goal effectively you need to focus and completely submerge yourself in the task. Trying to set too many goals at once means that you will do them all a little bit, but will achieve none of them fully. This, in turn, will make you feel like a failure and you will give up. So focus on one thing at a time.

  1. Plan it

This is how our coaches can help you. Most of us know what we want in life but the hardest struggle is figuring out the stepping stones to get there. A common mistake is to view our goal as one huge challenge – which by doing so will be, understandably, met with fear followed by apathy because we’ve bitten off more than we can chew. Well get your knife and fork out and chop it up!

If you goal is to find a better job within three months then draw up a week by week action plan.

Week one – work on your CV.

Week two – speak to recruitment agencies.

Week three – apply for jobs online….you get the picture.

If even that is too overwhelming for you then break it down further:

Monday – read the cv and make changes (15 mins)

Tuesday –  change the CV and ask a friend to take a look at it (10 mins)

As long as you give yourself clear instructions and set a timeframe, anything is possible.

  1. Be realistic

We can’t all be millionaires overnight or look like a supermodel by the summer – but we can make small and regular improvements to our health and finances that will eventually, over time, get us closer to our ideal vision.

  1. Track your progress

Everybody works differently, but for those that need positive confirmation that they are going in the right direction, keeping track of your progress is a great tool for positivity and to keep you motivated.

If you are trying to lose weight, create a spreadsheet of what you are eating, exercise and weight loss. Or if your goals are a lot less visual, such as working on your confidence, then keep a private journal outlining each small achievement. Maybe you spoke out in a meeting, or started a conversation with a neighbour, or stood up for yourself. By noting down your progress, you are proving to yourself that you are slowly but surely meeting your goals.

This is especially helpful on the days when you feel like it’s not working and you want to give up (and we all have those days). With your progress reports you can look back and prove to yourself that you are truly going in the right direction. And you’ll keep going.

  1. Lean on the right people

There’s nothing wrong with turning to the right people to help you achieve your goals. Whether you seek a mentor at work, a friend who is attempting to reach the same goals as you, or a professional coach to motivate you and set you on the right path – having someone beside you every step of the way will make your journey more enjoyable and more achievable.

Whatever your goals in life, there is no better time to start than today. As author Karen Lamb famously said ‘A year from now you may wish you had started today’. So what are you waiting for? Set a goal and change your life.

When our clients at are asked by our coaches to outline what it is they wish to achieve, or what aspects of their lives they are struggling with, the job of the coach is to cut away all of life’s padding and get to the core aspect of their concerns. Once a client has discovered what it is that is making them unhappy, the next step is to investigate how that can be remedied…and that’s where goals come in.


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