Top 10 Tips on Setting Goals

If Only I'd Learned Them Years Ago!

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Top 10 Tips On Setting Goals

These tips apply to both personal and professional goals, in fact any and all goals...


1. ALWAYS write down your goals.


Because research suggests the likelihood of you achieving your goals is significantly enhanced when you take the simple action of writing them down.

2. Take time out to think through what it is you really want.

It's almost impossible to generate new thinking when you are surrounded by the familiar.

Break away from your usual environment.

Go for a walk, sit on a park bench, go somewhere you have never been before.

Writing goals is a very important activity so see it that way and make time and a place for it.

3. Be clear about what it is you truly want.

The S. in the S.M.A.R.T acronym stands for being specific - knowing what it is you want and specifying it as clearly as you can. I can't stress the importance of this enough. Be as specific as you can.

Think about how you will know when you have achieved your goal.

In other words, what will you see? What will you hear? How will you feel?

For example, one of my clients had the goal of losing weight.

When she started to think about what she would see , she thought of smaller sized clothing in her wardrobe, a fridge full of healthy food, the weighing scales pointing to a different number...

When she thought of what she would hear, she thought of how she'd hear her friends congratulating her and how she'd hear herself having conversations with others she could now help.

When she thought about how she might feel, she realised she would feel terrific, proud of herself and more self confident.

Once my client had this clarity it turbo charged her motivation and desire to achieve her weight goals.

4. Make sure your goal is a 'want' goal and not a 'should' goal.

Many people set goals that are what I call, 'should' goals.

In other words, they are goals that for many different reasons they feel they 'should' be achieving.

For e.g. I should paint the house, should clean out the garage, should go to the gym, should learn a new language....

But you must truly 'want' to achieve any goal you set.


Because if you don't really want something it is unlikely that you will put in all the effort required to get you there.

A 'should' goal could well end in failure because you just are not committed and motivated enough to make it happen.

5. When you are writing your smart goal make it truly motivating.

For example here is one possible goal:-

"I own a 4 bedroomed detached house with a large garden."

But here is the same goal stated in a much more positive and exciting way:-

"I am in the kitchen of my brand new four bedroomed detached home in London, surrounded by the happy chat and laughter of my husband and two kids."

Which one would you be more motivated to achieve?

6. Write your goal in the first person, present tense.

Your goal should always begin with the word 'I' - after all it is about what YOU want for your life.

(If it is a team goal, start with 'We'...)

It should also be phrased in the present tense as that will allow your unconscious mind to start to believe you have already achieved it.

Here are some examples:

I have passed my level 3 exam in Spanish and....

I am having dinner with my new partner.

7. Determine WHY you want it.


Because when you are really clear on the reasons behind your goal, your reasons motivate you and provide you with the necessary fuel to achieve your goal.

8. Brainstorm your measurables and keep brainstorming them as necessary all along the way.

When you define the measurables in your smart goal, brainstorm as many measures as possible.

Once you have your list prioritise them.

Achieving your goal is a process. You never know where your path might lead so review what is happening and at all points be prepared to brainstorm new pathways.

9. Follow the 80:20 principle

You may have heard of the 80:20 principle.

Essentially it states that 80% of the results often come from just 20% of the effort.

For example, let's imagine you decide you want to set up business to develop a new healthy food snack.

Focusing on one large customer, for example Walmart, as opposed to applying enormous effort to getting your product into one thousand small shops, will deliver much better results with a fraction of the effort.

Think about what are the measures that will make the biggest difference to you achieving your goal. Focus first on achieving those.

10. Believe that you can do it.

Unless you really believe that your goal is possible you are unlikely to achieve it.

Everything you say to yourself and others must line up with your conviction.

As they say "Believe it and you will see it".

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Recommended Next Step?

Step 2 of the Smart Goals Success Formula™

How to set your smart goal

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How High Achievers Set Their Goals: Ebook

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I would highly recommend this process to think through any task that is important to you but may seem unattainable."

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Gateway Incubation Centre
University College Cork

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