Are you guilty of setting big ambitious goals but not actually achieving them? You’re not alone! There’s a very simple reason why that happens… you’re not setting them quite right! In this short guide you’re going to learn how to set goals you will actually achieve in five simple steps. Easy.
I’ve always been the type of person who achieves their goals, no matter how crazy they may seem.
Whether it’s travelling to over 30 countries before I turned 30 (I managed to visit 47, by the way), becoming a world champion professional bikini bodybuilding athlete, climbing the ‘corporate’ ranks to become a marketing manager, buying a house, or becoming a professional wedding photographer, I’ve always managed to achieve my seemingly ambitious goals in a short time. Now, I help other people do the same!
From all the goals I’ve achieved in my lifetime, I’ve found that the key is setting great goals and considering what’s really important to you (not anyone else - this is an important factor).
So with that in mind, here are the 5 simple steps I follow to set goals that I actually achieve. I know following this simple process will help you, too!
1. Start with self-reflection
Start by reflecting on your values, interests, skills, and passions. Consider what aspects of your work and areas of your life bring you the most satisfaction and fulfillment.
Understanding yourself is essential for setting realistic and meaningful goals. The problem is that a lot of people skip this very important step, which leads to setting goals that don’t inspire them, motivate them, or align with their personal values, skills, passions and interests.
Here’s a blog I’ve written which covers how to do self-reflection, and a list of questions you can use: Self-reflection for career growth. And here’s a worksheet (Google doc you can copy) with the questions that you can use for your own reflection: Self-Reflection for Career Growth Worksheet.
Identify your strengths and areas for improvement in your career and life, and this will be the foundation in which you set goals that you’ll actually achieve!
2. Get clear on your long-term vision
The problem most of my coaching clients have when it comes to setting and achieving goals is that they don’t think big enough. Envision your ideal career and life in the long term. What does success look like for you? Where do you want to be in 5-10 years? And if you haven’t thought about it, it’s time to!
If you’re only thinking short-term, with no bigger picture vision, it’s hard to stay motivated when things get tough. Once you have your future vision in mind, break down your long-term vision into smaller, manageable milestones to help you get there.
If you need help getting clear on your long-term vision, book your free consultation with me. I’m a certified life coach who specialises in helping people design their lives and create a robust vision and plan for the future – if you’re stuck, reach out! Book here.
3. Set SMART goals
SMART GOALS are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
This framework helps ensure that your goals are clear, realistic, and have a timeline for completion.
For example, instead of a vague goal like "improve networking skills," a SMART goal would be "Attend two industry networking events per month for the next six months to improve my networking skills and grow my professional network."
Specific: Is your goal(s) specific enough? Is it something that could be easily identified when
you’ve reached it? If not, how could you make it more specific?
Measurable: Is your goal(s) measurable? Would you be able to tell you’ve reached it? Is there clear criteria? If not, how could you make it more measurable?
Achievable: Is your goal(s) achievable? Is it something that you’ve considered and understand that it is, in fact, possible and able to be accomplished? If not, how could you adjust your goal and/or time frame expectations to make it achievable?
Relevant: Think about the big picture: why are you setting this goal? How is it relevant to the rest of your life? How about your values?
Time Framed: Does your goal(s) have a time frame? Have you set a date or duration? Do you have a sense of urgency for the next step? If not, is there anything else you need to do in order to be able to put your goal on a timeline and begin taking action?
Now write your own SMART goals using this worksheet (make a copy of this Google doc so you can add your own).
I recommend choosing three key goals only, as if you have more than three priorities at any time, you really have none!
Write your SMART goals:
4. Find your ‘why’
Everything we want in life is because we want to feel a particular way: we’re either moving towards pleasure or away from pain.
Finding the real reason why we want something will help us to identify the emotion we want to feel by having it.
In order to succeed in life and achieve your goals, you need to know WHY you want what you want. And not only that, you have to have a big enough reason. If you're not motivated or haven’t followed through in the past, it may be because you need to think bigger.
For each of your SMART goals, write down your WHY for wanting to achieve them. How do your goals align with your bigger vision? And if they don’t, truly ask yourself why you want to dedicate your time, energy and resources to achieving them?
Here are some questions to ask yourself when pulling out your WHY:
What is the outcome I believe I will get by achieving this goal?
How will it feel? (what’s the emotion I will experience when I achieve this goal?)
How will it impact my life?
What will happen if I don’t achieve this goal?
Considering all of this, why do I want to achieve this goal?
Why is that important to me?
Why does that matter?
Why does that matter to me?
Continue to ask yourself WHY until you get to the core reason you desire your goal. If you start to go around in circles, it means you’ve found your true ‘why’!
5. Prioritise your goals and break them down
When we think too big, it can become overwhelming. It’s important to determine which goals are most important and align with your overall career vision. Focus on a few key goals at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Prioritising helps you allocate your time and resources effectively.
Be sure to break down each goal into smaller, actionable steps. This makes the process more manageable and allows you to track your progress. Create a timeline for completing each step to stay on track.
Now you have the recipe, go crush your goals!
Setting goals you’ll actually achieve really is simple. By following these five steps, you’ll be well on your way to setting and achieving goals that align with your future vision for your life, inspire you, and help keep you motivated on your journey to achieving them.
If you need help on your journey, book your free 1-hour strategy session with me – I’m a certified life coach and accredited cognitive behavioural therapy practitioner who specialises in helping ambitious peeps like you to design their lives and achieve their biggest goals. I know I can help you get the accelerated growth and progress you otherwise probably wouldn’t think is possible.
Thanks for reading! If you want more, check out my other blogs, follow me on Facebook: @Janellekeesue, TikTok: @janelle.keesue, Instagram: @janellekeesue. You can also book a free session with me here!
About the author, Janelle Kee-Sue
Janelle Kee-Sue is a certified life and career coach, accredited cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) practitioner, business owner, writer, speaker, and marketing specialist based in Wellington, New Zealand. She’s been to almost 50 countries, is a former professional bikini bodybuilding champion with a world title under her belt, and is passionate about helping women who are feeling stuck and unfulfilled in their careers and lives to get clarity on their next steps and start living the life they're meant for. In her spare time, you’ll find her at the gym, working on her novel, or hanging with her floofy Samoyed Zeus and her husband Ricky. Learn more.