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Setting goals is a great way to give yourself direction, focus and motivation. Whether your goals are big or small, the first step in achieving them is deciding what they are! Learn how to define your goals and to put together a plan for how you'll achieve them.

This can help if:

  • you feel overwhelmed by how much is going on in your life
  • you feel like you’re lacking direction
  • you have a big project or dream that you want to get started on.
Girl in yellow sweater writing on notepad

Why goal setting is useful

Making something you want in life 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, keep you focused and motivated, and increase your chances of achieving things.

The goals you set need to be meaningful to you; they shouldn’t be things that you think you 'should' be doing. You’ll get the most benefit out of achieving goals that are important to you.

How to define your goals

To set a goal, you need to know what it is you want in the first place. Failing to identify what you’re hoping to achieve can be a huge stumbling block. Here are some tips for helping you to work out what you want:

1. Start with the things you enjoy. We are happiest when we’re using our strengths. Write down the five things you enjoy most in life. Can you identify any goals associated with using these strengths?

2. 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 this can be overwhelming. Change how you think about goals. A goal can be anything you want to do or achieve – big, small or completely random, such as learning how to tell a great story at a party, or taking part in a fun-run dressed as a stormtrooper.

3. 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 positive goals. For example, turn the negative goal ‘I don’t want to be stuck at home’ into a positive one: ‘I want to travel.’

Three steps to effective goal setting

When you have an idea about what you want, there are three simple steps you can take for setting a goal for yourself.

1. Define your goal. Remember, you need to make your goal specific and realistic. This means that your goal should be achievable, measurable and have an end point. If you’re not sure whether your goal is realistic, talk to someone you trust about it.

2. Set sub-goals. Breaking up your goal into sub-goals will help you stay motivated, particularly in the case of a larger goal that will take time to achieve. Write down your sub-goals and make them milestones, so you can recognise and celebrate the progress you’ve made in achieving them.

3. Set a time frame. Deadlines keep you on the go and help you to stay motivated. For each written sub-goal, add a deadline to prevent you from putting things off or losing sight of your main goal.

What can I do now?

  • Find some time to sit down and define and set your goals.
  • Discuss your plans with someone you trust.
  • Keep yourself motivated by planning rewards when you’ve achieved each milestone.
  • Use the Goal Setter app.