If you want to create an extraordinary life, first you must know what personal success looks like for you – and what you must do to make your vision a reality.
That’s where goal setting comes in. Goals give you a clear sense of direction. They allow you to pinpoint your destination and map out the journey you must take to achieve your goals and make your dreams come true.
When you understand your life purpose, have a clear vision of what you want, convert your desires into achievable goals, and then take unstoppable action toward those goals, you will have the power to accomplish anything you can imagine!
“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” – Andrew Carnegie
The purpose of this guide is to give you the goal-setting tips and resources you need to leverage the power of setting and achieving goals in your life.
What is Goal Setting?
Goal setting is simply the practice of identifying a specific goal you would like to accomplish in your life. Decades of scientific research into the workings of the human brain have shown that your brain is a goal-seeking organism.
When people present a clear goal to their subconscious mind, the brain will actively start seeking out information, resources, and opportunities that will help them accomplish that goal.
Sometimes these resources and opportunities seem to appear out of nowhere as if by “magic”… but the reality is, they were there hiding in plain sight all along.
It’s actually you who has changed.
By focusing your attention, desires, and subconscious mind on a goal that’s important to you, you have opened yourself up to the awareness that will take you further on your journey toward reaching that goal.
Why is Goal Setting Important?
Without goal setting, our lives have no clear direction. We simply “bounce” from situation to situation, always reacting to events or other people rather than proactively guiding our lives toward our desired destination.
Our lives end up being shaped more by people and situations outside of ourselves than by our own dreams and desires.
In short, if you want to create a life you love, you have to set clear personal goals for yourself.
The good news is, setting and achieving goals will improve all aspects of your life.
Your confidence and belief in your own abilities will grow with every goal you achieve. That’s because achieving your personal goals requires you to step outside of your comfort zone and gain new skills and experiences. You have to take risks.
This means facing your fears and taking action anyway. Every time you succeed, you will prove to yourself that you are capable of learning new things and overcoming challenges.
This will increase your sense of what you can achieve and it will inspire you to take on bigger challenges until you have attained a level of success you never would’ve imagined when you first started out!
However, not all goals – nor all goal-setting practices – are the same. Some goals are much more effective than others at helping you achieve your dreams in life.
This brings us to one of my all-time favorite goal-setting tips: setting SMART goals.
What are SMART Goals?
The best kind of goals to pursue are what goal-setting experts like to call “SMART Goals.”
These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bounded.
Implementing these into your goal-setting process helps ensure that you are focused on achieving realistic goals that will accelerate your progress to reach your dreams.
Your goal must be very clear and defined not only to you but to others as well. It should be precise, detailed, and answer questions instead of creating more.
Effective goals are also measurable. In other words, they should include specific target numbers.
To harness the power of goal setting, focus on setting goals that are truly possible. Specifically, your goal must be achievable by you given where you are in your life right now.
If you want to achieve goals effectively, determine what you can actually accomplish within your constraints of time, money, environment, as well as your skills and abilities and other important factors.
This doesn’t mean that your big ambitious goals are impossible! I strongly encourage you to set goals that push you past your limits and expand your sense of what you’re capable of accomplishing.
But to achieve those big goals, you may have to chunk them down into smaller, realistic goals that are achievable within one year or less. Then, use the momentum you build up through achieving those smaller goals to propel you closer to your ultimate vision.
Your goals shouldn’t only be attainable, but they must be realistic and align with your true purpose.
I encourage you to set goals that are not only achievable but also align with your current circumstances and the direction in which you want your life to go.
Lastly, always set specific deadlines for achieving your goal. Committing to a target date of completion creates accountability and gives you the motivation to take action toward your goal.
Just make sure the deadlines you give yourself are make sense with your current commitments.
You will attain better results if you allow enough time to complete your goals so you can experience the satisfaction of checking them off your list. Every completed goal creates momentum that propels you forward!
How to Set Goals?
The first step to goal-setting is to decide exactly what you want.
- What do you want to accomplish?
- What do you want to experience?
- What do you want to acquire?
- Who do you want to be?
One of the primary reasons most people can’t figure out how to set goals that work is because they aren’t clear about what they want.
Others may have a clear idea of what they would like their lives to look like, but when they don’t see a way forward for themselves, they dismiss their desires as foolish or unattainable. Please don’t sabotage yourself this way!
Set Goals in Important Areas of Your Life
The best way to learn how to achieve goals successfully is to get clear about your vision so you can identify the steps you must take to create the life you want.
As you clarify your ideal vision, be sure to consider all areas of your life. This brings us to another one of my top goal-setting tips: The best way to create a life of balance and harmony is to find purpose, achievement, and fulfillment in all areas of your life.
That’s why I always encourage students to set at least 3 goals for themselves in each of the following areas:
- Financial Goals
- Career/Business Goals
- Free Time/Family Time
- Health/Appearance Goals
- Relationship Goals
- Personal Growth
- Making a Difference
If you have more goals than this, don’t limit yourself – write them down! I encourage you to set as many goals for yourself as you can think of.
These can be long-term goals that you plan to achieve in the next 5-10 years, “bucket” list lifetime goals, or even short-term goals you want to achieve in the next few months, weeks, or days.
As you identify the goals for each area of your life, be sure to use the SMART goal formula. Smaller goals that are achieved are far more powerful than big goals that are never accomplished.
The magic of goal-setting comes from consistently achieving your goals and experiencing the joy of success and fulfillment that comes from facing a challenge and overcoming it.
Set a “Breakthrough” Goal
It’s important to include goals that will make us stretch and grow to achieve them. These goals might require us to learn a new skill or try something that is uncomfortable and maybe a little frightening, such as public speaking.
By setting goals that require you to grow, you become a more capable and confident person. As motivational philosopher Jim Rohn says, “You should set a goal big enough that in the process of achieving it, you become someone worth becoming.”
It also helps to set a breakthrough goal that would represent a quantum leap. I’m talking about a goal that, when achieved, will change every possible aspect of your life for the better.
For some people, that breakthrough goal might be starting their own business or writing a book.
Or it could be losing 100 pounds, competing in a triathlon, or learning how to build a plane.
Remember that while material goals can be important, the ultimate goal is to become a master at life. In the long run, the greatest benefits we receive from pursuing our dreams are not the outer trappings of fulfilling the dream, but who we become in the process.
The outer symbols of success can all be easily lost. Houses burn down, companies go bankrupt, relationships end, cars get old, bodies age and fame wanes, but who you are, what you have learned, and the new skills you have developed never go away. These are the true prizes of success.
Decide How to Measure Your Goals
Measurable means how much and by when. You can’t set goals without a proper way to measure them.
As soon as you commit to a big dream and really go after it, your subconscious mind will come up with ideas on how to make it happen. You’ll start attracting the people, resources, and opportunities you need into your life to make your dream come true. Soon you will discover that big dreams don’t only inspire you, but they also become an inspiration to others, too.
When your dreams include service to others – and by that I mean, actively contributing to the happiness and fulfillment of other people – it accelerates the achievement of your goals.
It is easier to rally people to your vision and find the support you need to achieve your goals when your work makes a real positive difference in the world.
Work on Your Goals Daily
To keep your subconscious mind focused on what you want, I encourage you to read your list of goals every day.
For an even more powerful approach, close your eyes and focus on each goal then ask yourself, “What is one thing I could do today to move toward the achievement of this goal?”
Write down your answers and take those actions.
As the old joke goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Steady progress in bite-sized chunks brings the most audacious goals within reach.
You can also create a vision board and use it to visualize your goals each day. This will help you stay focused and inspired and keep your goals always top of mind.
10 Goal-Setting Tips
Now, here are ten goal-setting tips to use that will propel you in the direction of your dreams.
1. Set Realistic Goals
When we admire someone’s success, we tend to focus on the end result and overlook the time and effort it took to get there. This can cultivate unrealistic expectations and lead to the belief that discovering how to be successful can happen overnight.
But the thing is, overnight success is a myth.
Real success typically follows a series of small events and achievements that happen over time and can sometimes seem to take an eternity, include a number of disappointments along the way, and challenge you to the core: your stamina, courage, integrity, and even your willingness to keep going.
So if you’re feeling particularly challenged right now, don’t worry! It’s all part of the process. The important thing is to learn the lessons you need to learn and keep moving forward.
Additionally, remember that you attract what you put out into the world. So if you want positive people and opportunities to come into your life, you have to show up as a positive person!
The best way to overcome the challenges you will inevitably face is to cultivate a positive mindset and the unstoppable determination to keep going no matter what.
2. Identify Any Setbacks
If you feel like something is holding you back from making faster progress toward your goals, take the time to figure out exactly what that something is.
Spoiler alert: it may not be what you think it is.
For example, maybe you think you haven’t been able to launch your big project because you simply haven’t had the time and energy to focus on it. When the reality is, you haven’t been enforcing your personal boundaries with your family, friends, or clients. And as a result, you’ve been letting yourself get distracted with unimportant tasks instead of focusing your time and energy on what really matters to you.
Once you have done some self-exploration and identified the roadblocks standing in the way of your progress, your next step should be to identify what you must do to overcome that roadblock and get back on the fast track to your goals.
3. Visualize What You Want
I’ve been writing a lot about getting clear on the goals you want to achieve in your life. But how exactly do you do that? With the power of visualization! Visualization is one of my favorite success tools and an incredible way to keep your motivation high and your goals top of mind.
To use the power of visualization effectively, take a few minutes every morning and evening to clearly visualize what your life will look and feel like once your goals have been achieved.
Consider what your home will look like… what kind of work you will be doing… and how you will spend your days once you are living the life of your dreams. When you hold that vision in the front of your mind, you will find it so much easier to remember what your priorities are and why.
4. Write Out Your Successes (And Losses…)
Humans have a built-in negative bias. It’s an evolutionary thing – it helped us stay alert to danger back in the prehistoric days when everything was out to kill us!
In modern times, this negativity bias causes us to feel and remember the bad things that happen to us much more powerfully than we feel and remember the good things.
To keep a balanced view of all that you have accomplished and everything that’s going well in your life, it really helps to have a written record of what’s working so you can keep track of your positive achievements and remember them at the end of the day.
That’s why I recommend keeping a daily success journal. It’s a great way to focus your attention on the positive and stay on track with your vision for your ideal life.
Spend a few minutes each morning writing a list of what you’re grateful for in your life. Then, at the end of the day, write some notes on what went right that day.
Be sure to write down everything, no matter how small it may seem. When you train yourself to recognize and acknowledge your own achievements, you are guaranteed to attract even more success into your life.
It’s also important to remember that experiencing setbacks and losses along the way is part of the process. So if you have run up against a seemingly insurmountable obstacle and are feeling defeated, don’t give up!
Suffering a setback doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. It simply means that you’ve learned what doesn’t work and can apply that learning to your success going forward.
5. Meditate & Focus on the Positive
The key to cultivating a goal-setting mindset is to become more aware of your thoughts and release the limiting beliefs that are preventing you from showing up fully as your best self.
Meditation is a powerful tool for this. It can help you understand that you are not your thoughts and that you can choose to detach thoughts that don’t serve your highest goals and purpose. It can also give you the clarity and insight you need to find solutions to problems and attract success into your life.
Meditation shuts down your judgmental, highly-critical brain and allows your unconscious mind to take over so you can enter a deeper state of inner peace and tap into a higher level of creativity that will help usher in the results you want. Not only that, but it’s also one of my favorite forms of stress relief!
Another one of my favorite goal-setting tips is to use daily affirmations to cultivate greater confidence and self-esteem. See and believe in yourself as the kind of person who is capable of achieving your most ambitious goals.
6. Use the Rule of 5
My favorite way to boost my productivity and get more done every day is to follow the Rule of Five. Here’s how it works:
Every day, identify 5 specific things you will accomplish to get closer to your goal, and don’t call it quits until you cross each one off your list.
Not only will this give you a proven structure to ensure you get more accomplished every day, but it will also give you a clear sense of what’s actually achievable in a day. Plus, you can round up your goals or scale them back to help you move forward consistently without exhausting yourself by working late every night.
7. Take Advantage of a Support System
Success is not a solo sport! You will make fast progress if you share your goals with others and enlist their support in your cause. It’s simply not feasible for you to plan to do everything yourself.
When you delegate the tasks you don’t love and are taking up too much time that keeps you from focusing on your core genius, you will be amazed at how much more you will accomplish. The more brains that come together to focus on your goals means more opportunities for solutions to any potential roadblocks.
8. Check-In Along the Way
No matter how clear your journey is or how motivated you are when you first embark on your journey, chances are high you will run into detours that may distract you from your chosen path.
That’s why it’s important to check in with yourself and revisit your goals frequently to make sure you’re still on track.
I recommend you review your big goals weekly and set new goals for yourself every month and new year to build on your accomplishments and take you even closer to your most ambitious dreams.
9. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone & Take Action!
If you are following all of these goal-setting tips and still aren’t making the progress you would like to be making, here’s a question to consider:
Have you taken any BIG ACTION to launch yourself out of your current situation and closer to the life of your dreams?
You may be taking action, but it might be the same type of action you’ve always taken. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get the same results.
If you want to create a new life for yourself, you have to practice new behaviors. Shake things up a bit and see if you can take new actions or modify existing ones. Don’t be afraid to embrace change and challenge yourself by doing something BIG.
10. Reward Yourself
Finally, a powerful way to turbo-charge the power of goal-setting is to celebrate your achievements and reward yourself whenever you check another task off of your to-do list!
This might seem frivolous but it is an important part of the success process.
By celebrating your accomplishments, you reinforce your self-perception as someone who is capable of achieving anything! This will bolster your self-confidence and give you the push you need to aim even higher and go for bigger goals that will catapult you closer to your dreams.
Goal Setting Examples
Before we wrap up, let’s take a look at a few goal-setting examples to inspire you on your own journey.
When your goals aren’t specific, measurable, or time-bound, that thing you desire is simply a wish, a preference, or a good idea.
So to engage your subconscious mind, a goal has to be measurable. Here’s how to determine whether you’re going after a goal or simply dreaming of a good idea.
Setting Personal Goals
Good Idea: I would like to own a nice home on the ocean.
Goal: I will own a 4,000-square-foot house on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, Califonia, by noon, April 30, 2022.
Setting Goals For Weight Loss and Health
Good Idea: I want to lose weight.
Goal: I will weigh 185 pounds by January 1, 2023.
Setting Leadership and Business Goals
Good Idea: I need to treat my employees better.
Goal: I will acknowledge a minimum of 6 employees for their contributions to the department by 5 PM, this Friday.
As you work on your goals list, keep in mind that there is no such thing as too many goals! I encourage you to set as many goals for yourself as possible – small ones as well as big, long-term life-changing ones.
Remember, you get an emotional and spiritual boost every time you are able to achieve one of those goals and cross it off your list!
Use These Goal Setting Tips in Your Life
Knowing how to set and achieve big goals is the secret to achieving anything you want in life. But it’s one thing to know it and another to actually do it.
I can talk about goal setting until I’m blue in the face but unless you actually set some goals and then take consistent action to achieve them, you are likely to remain stuck where you are.
So if you’re looking for one thing to do differently today than you did yesterday, make it this:
Commit to taking 100% responsibility for every aspect of your life and goal planning. Then choose what it is you want. Decide what actions you’re going to need to take to create it and take those actions one step at a time — and don’t let anyone stop you from achieving them.
Ready to take the first step?
Put the power of goal-setting to work in your life right away!
You’ll learn how to set meaningful goals that are aligned with your life’s purpose and get strategic follow-up emails from me where I’ll share additional techniques, tools, and advice to ensure that you get the results you want.
As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre—and watched it grow to a billion dollar market. As the driving force behind the development and delivery of over 100 million books sold through the Chicken Soup for the Soul® franchise, Jack Canfield is uniquely qualified to talk about success. Jack is America’s #1 Success Coach and wrote the life-changing book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and Jack speaks around the world on this subject. Check out his newest book The 30-Day Sobriety Solution: How to Cut Back or Quit Drinking in the Privacy of Your Own Home. Follow Jack at www.jackcanfield.com and sign up for his free resources today!
Image courtesy of Brit.