How to set goals

Setting goals is a really great way to give yourself direction, focus and motivation. You can get started by deciding on your goals and putting together a plan for how you'll achieve them... But let's make your first accomplishment reading this fact sheet!

Goal setting can help when:

  • You feel overwhelmed by how much is going on
  • You feel like you’re lacking direction
  • You have a big project to tackle
Man holding bike over head

Why goal setting is useful

Turning something you want in life into an actual goal is a really great way to make it happen. That’s because you’re making a decision to act in order to get what you want. Goals give you direction, they keep you focused and motivated, and increase your chances of achieving things.

What’s important about the goals you set is that they need to mean something to you; they shouldn’t be things that you think you 'should' be doing. You will get the most benefit out of achieving goals that you want to achieve, and less out of goals that don’t mean much to you.

Where to begin

To be able to set a goal, you need to know what it is that you want. This is a huge stumbling block for a lot of people – but it’s an important one to work through. If you don’t know what you want, you aren’t going to get it, which isn’t great for your happiness. Some tips for helping you work out what you want include:

  • Start with things you enjoy. We are happiest when we are using our strengths. Write down the five things you enjoy most in life. Are there any goals you can identify?
  • Don’t get too caught up in ‘big’ things. A lot of the time when we think about goals, we think they need to be really big - and that can get overwhelming. Change how you think about goals. A goal should be anything you want to do or achieve - big, small, or completely random.
  • Think about what you don’t want. Write a list of five or ten things that you don’t want. Then turn them around to become goals. E.g. turn ‘I don’t want to be stuck at home’ into ‘I want to travel’.

Goals can be made in many different areas of your life. Think about:

  • Personal qualities
  • Friendships/relationships
  • Family
  • Work/study/career
  • Physical health
  • Interests/hobbies
  • Attitudes

Are there things you want to change or work towards in any of these aspects of your life?

The process of goal setting

When you have an idea about what it is that you do want, there are three simple steps you need to take to set a goal.

1. Define your goal. 

There are two important parts to defining a goal:

  • Make your goal specific. Goals should be measurable and have an end point.
  • Make your goals realistic. Taking on challenges can be really motivating, but don’t set yourself up to fail. If you’re not sure if your goal is realistic, talk to someone you trust about it.

2. Set sub-goals.

Breaking up your goal into sub-goals is really important to staying motivated, particularly for larger goals that take a long time to achieve. Sub-goals help you recognise and celebrate when you’ve made progress.

3. Work through a plan of action. 

Having a tangible plan of action helps you to stay focused. This can be done by following these points:

  • Write down your sub-goals. Once you’ve worked out your sub-goals, make sure you write them down and keep them in a place where you can see them. 
  • Include a time frame. Deadlines keep you on the go and help you stay motivated. For each written sub-goal, write down a deadline to prevent yourself from putting things off or forgetting your goal.

What can I do now?

  • Write a list of goals you’d like to achieve in the next year.
  • Get tips on solving difficult problems.
  • Keep yourself motivated by thinking about how you'll feel when you achieve a goal.
Last reviewed: 04 September, 2015
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3 Comments

  • Ben-RO    (64 days ago)

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  • StarPlatinum    (66 days ago)

    Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis The Wise? I thought not. It’s not a story the Jedi would tell you. It’s a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midichlorians to create life… He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying. The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural. He became so powerful… the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power, which eventually, of course, he did. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice killed him in his sleep. Ironic. He could save others from death, but not himself.more on r/prequelmemes.

  • angus    (465 days ago)

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