Thirteen Steps for Setting Goals

You must have a plan to achieve your goals, and then execute your plan.  The more clearly you can see the object of your goal accomplished in your mind the faster you will be able to achieve your goal.  This point is crucial.  Being able to get really clear on the things that you want to do, want to be, and want to have makes all the difference. Honestly, a lot of people struggle with this and it’s something I know that I’ve struggled with. I believe that putting in the mental effort here on getting the clarity that’s required to do this successfully is what separates those who actually get things done from those who merely try.  I think this is also the main reason people give up on their goal setting efforts; many people will make the effort to set goals, but it’s those who get clarity who succeed. This is really where the hard work comes in.  I’ve not come across better information on the science of setting goals than Brian Tracy – this list is also inspired by him. Here is a list of 13 goal setting steps I use for setting goals and planning for life.

Cultivate Intense Desire

You have to be passionate about what it is that you’re trying to achieve.  Dwell upon your desires, and cultivate them making them strong and powerful and be perfectly clear as to what you are trying to achieve.

Believe You Can Achieve Your Goal

You must absolutely believe that you can achieve your goal, and that you deserve to see your goals achieved.  Make your goals believable.  Set smaller, incremental goals to achieve larger goals.  Teach your family how to set and achieve realistic goals.  “If you save your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.”  Larger goals require much preparation, and effort.  Work patiently and consistently. Confidently expect and believe that you will see your goals achieved.

Write Your Goals Down

They must be on paper, otherwise they’re just wishes.  Written goals are tangible. Write it out in its ideal form clearly and vividly just as you would like to see it in reality.  Leave no detail out, then go to work. The act of writing them down intensifies your desire and your belief that they can be achieved.

Make a Benefits List

What is the reason for the goal?  How will you benefit from achieving the goal?  These are a huge motivator in seeing your goals achieved. You have to have a reason for wanting to achieve a goal.  Determine all the things that you can think of that will be of benefit to you if you achieve your goal. Be detailed and thorough. The longer the list, the more motivational it will be and you will be unstoppable!

Analyze Your Starting Point

Determine the point from which you’re starting.  This gives you a baseline by which you can measure your results. Measuring your progress is much easier when you know the point from which you started!

Set a Deadline

Set deadlines on all tangible measurable goals, such as increases in income, weight-loss, running a certain number of miles, savings, etc.  It’s better not to set deadlines on qualitative goals such as the development of patience, quality of relationships, self-discipline, kindness etc.  Deadlines for tangible goals establish a time frame in which you would see your goal achieved.  When you set a deadline for qualitative goals that deadline represents the date that you will first start to demonstrate the quality that your goal is focused on.  There are no unrealistic goals, only unrealistic deadlines.  Break your big goals down in to smaller goals with shorter time frames.

List All The Obstacles That Will Have To Be Overcome

List the obstacles in order of importance from greatest to least.  Then attack the largest obstacle first.  The “rock” (largest obstructing obstacle) can be either internal, external or both.  It may be the lack of a skill, lack of education on a particular subject, etc.  Is there anything about myself that I will have to change, or something that I need to develop in order to see my goal achieved? Am I fearful? Why? Make a list and plan to overcome these obstacles.

Identify the Information You Need To Achieve Your Goal

Make sure that you have all the knowledge and information that you need.  If you don’t have it, how can you get it?  Who else has achieved success in a similar goal?  Get what you need as quickly as possible.  Determine exactly the most important information that you lack and get it quickly.

Who’s Help Do You Need to Achieve Your Goal?

Make a list of everyone from whom you will need help and cooperation.  Prioritize from greatest to least.  Who’s help is the most important? If you help others to achieve their goals, others will be willing to help you achieve yours. Your rewards in life will always be equal to your service to others. Always deliver more than expected.

Make a Plan

Write out in detail what you want, when you want it, where you’re starting from, the obstacles to overcome, the information required, and who will be needed to help you achieve it you have all the ingredients for a superb master plan.  A plan is a list of activities organized by time and priority. What is the most important thing to do?  What is the time frame? Once you have a detailed plan of action – get started.  Plans will have defects and flaws, but you can alter your plan until you have worked out all the bugs.  The more detailed and organized your plans the more likely you are to see it achieved by its deadline and in the manner in which you wished it to be achieved.

Visualize Your Goals

create a clear mental picture of the goal as already achieved and play it over and over again in your mind.  Every time you visualize your goal you increase your desire and intensify your belief that the goal is achievable for you.


Be persistent and determined; tenacious and resolved.  If you have set your goal according to your values, and desires, consistent determined effort will see it accomplished. Nothing will stop you.  Be continuously active in the pursuit of your goals.  Employ the concept of “Constant and Never-ending Improvement”.  Define your goals by the activities needed to achieve them.  Discipline yourself to do something every day that moves you toward your goals.  Continually take actions toward what you are trying to achieve.  Recognize progress and make note of it, reminding yourself of your progress and the reason why you are pursuing the goal in the first place.

Review your progress regularly

This last one is a step I added after seeing Chris Guillebeau’s annual review post.  Set an appointment with yourself either monthly or quarterly to evaluate how you’re doing.  Things will change – you’ll find some things you thought were important may not be as important, and that other things you thought were less important rose to the top.  This is the time to make adjustments, increase, or shorten deadlines, add things or remove them.  And most importantly, if you’ve seen one of your goals come to fruition – celebrate! Make a big deal out of it and celebrate the reward of seeing your goal achieved!  Put a great big check mark next to it and the date it was accomplished.   It serves as a great reminder of the reward that your perseverance, effort and diligence will deliver you.

You can use these steps and principles for all areas of your life.  Brian Tracy talks about how much of his goal setting philosophy is similar to philosophies used by companies and businesses to make strategic plans for their future and you can do the same for you life and business.  I want to know – what successes have you had in setting goals and achieving them? Please take a minute to share your story in the comments below.

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