Goal Setting: How To Set and Achieve Personal Goals

Having goals in life is the best way to ensure you accomplish the things you want to achieve. Goals vary, with some being short-term and others long-term. One of the best ways to achieve your goals is to practice goal setting.

What Is Goal Setting?

Goal setting is to select something you want to achieve and then create a plan to make it happen. There are several types of goals, including personal goals, business goals, self-improvement goals, and more.

Most goals in life require some action for them to come to fruition. Goal setting is one way to make sure the goal is accomplished.


A popular acronym people use to help with goal attainment is SMART. SMART stands for the following:

Specific: Narrowing down the specific area of personal growth you want to improve.

Measurable: what does the end result look like to you? Will the specific goal have one result at the end or many positive results along the way as you work through your goal-setting plan?

Achievable: Is the goal realistic for your life? Unfortunately, some visions and dreams work well into our reality while others do not.

Time-related: Is there a deadline to the goal? For example, if the goal is to lose weight, how many pounds would you like to lose, and when?

Using the SMART method is one way to help you create an action plan for achievable goals.

Understanding the Power of Goals

As mentioned, goals aim to help us achieve what we want in life. It sounds simple; however, having a goal or many goals and setting objectives to reach them is essential for your mental health and emotional well-being. The following is a list of psychological and motivational benefits of setting clear objectives for your goals.

  • Goals remind us of our values and help us see what matters most to us.
  • Goals and the steps to reach them force us to take a good look at ourselves. Where are you in life? What’s important to you?
  • Goal setting helps us to face reality. Instead of daydreaming about unrealistic ideas, a goal forces us to face the reality of what we can accomplish in life.
  • Goals build self-esteem when we accomplish each objective to complete them.

Breaking Down Goals

Some goals are simple, and you may accomplish them almost immediately each day, such as making the bed or taking a walk. Other goals will take longer to accomplish and might be tough to work at without breaking the path to the goal into manageable parts. Let’s take a look at how you can break your goals down to make them easier to achieve:

Chunking Goals into Manageable Tasks

One of the best goal-setting tips is to break larger goals into smaller ones. For example, if you have a goal to complete your degree and are just getting started, it won’t be completed in a day. Instead, break down the goal into semesters and then break it down even further into passing tests and completing homework each week. Each time you turn in a homework assignment, you are accomplishing a goal, which leads to accomplishing the final goal of the degree.

You can use the chunking method for any goal. It takes one big goal and turns it into smaller manageable tasks, making the final goal less overwhelming.

Creating a Step-by-Step Action Plan

A good action plan provides motivation. Most action plans incorporate deadlines for each “chunk” of the goal. When creating a step-by-step action plan, keep the SMART goal method in mind so that goal planning remains realistic and achievable. Here is what an action plan for goals might look like:

  1. Write down your goal or goals, whether they are personal or professional.
  2. Place goals where you can see them. If it’s a team goal at work, write it out and pin it up everywhere you can. If it’s a personal goal, write the goal on sticky notes and stick them all around the house and in your car. The reminders keep everyone motivated.
  3. As you break the goal into chunks, separate the smaller goals into their own goal, so you remember to enjoy the achievements along the way to the final goal. Use visuals if it helps, such as a ladder with each goal on one of the rungs.
  4. Write down your step-by-step plan to achieve the goal. Will you be getting up earlier? Staying later at work? Making healthier meals? Whatever the goal, you need to know the action each day.

The most critical part of attainable goals is taking action. Looking at the plan won’t do much for you each day if you don’t take action using what you have written down.

Overcoming Challenges

Goal setting is essential in life and can be exciting as you focus on new challenges and incredible outcomes. However, like most things in life, there are often challenges along the way as you work to achieve your goals. Let’s look closer at common obstacles and strategies to overcome them, embrace a growth mindset, and track progress.

Common Obstacles in Goal Setting

You will face obstacles as you work through your goal-setting action plan. Obstacles will look different for everyone. They might include the following:

  • Illness
  • Relationship issues
  • Change in lifestyle
  • Change in jobs or economic status
  • Lack of clarification for the goal
  • Fear of failure
  • Lack of motivation
  • Procrastination
  • Negative thoughts

Many obstacles come from our mindset, so speaking positively to yourself is crucial.

Strategies for Overcoming Setbacks and Staying Motivated

Obstacles and the setbacks they cause can decrease your motivation if you don’t have a plan or mindset to keep you going. It’s frustrating when these things happen; don’t let it deter you. Expect setbacks, and you won’t be thrown off track. Let’s look at two helpful strategies to overcome setbacks:

Acknowledge the setback: Denying a setback may seem like positive thinking, but it isn’t realistic. Own it and choose to deal with it.

Take action: You made a goal-setting plan; however, it’s essential to remain flexible. Make any necessary changes to the plan to help overcome the setback and keep you going toward the goal.

Embracing a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset believes a person can change and grow over time. Things don’t have to stay the same, and one can improve one’s life if one is willing to learn and put in the effort.

The growth mindset is crucial in achieving challenging goals, especially when obstacles arise. Here is how to achieve a growth mindset:

  • Don’t settle for believing that some things can never change. Almost everything in life can be changed or looked at differently.
  • View bumps in the road as a challenge rather than an impossible obstacle.
  • Redefine failure by embracing what failure teaches you.
  • Celebrate small victories as you work toward your goals.
  • Find growth-minded people to spend time with. There’s a phrase: show me your friends; I’ll show you your future. We become who we surround ourselves with

Accountability and Support Systems

It’s tough to accomplish goals on our own. Though you must put in the work yourself, there are some ways to remain accountable and create an encouraging support system.

Importance of Accountability in Goal Achievement

Accountability in any area of life, especially goals, drives us to keep going and focus on the task. When there is no accountability, there is less commitment.  A supportive network and regular check-ins are crucial.

Building a Support Network or Finding an Accountability Partner

To remain accountable as you navigate your goals, building a support network or finding an accountability partner is essential. Here are a few ideas for both:

  • Ask your partner to hold you accountable by sharing your plan and asking them to check in often.
  • Find a support group of like-minded people with similar goals.
  • Ask a friend to join you on your goal.
  • Ask teammates at work to hold you accountable.

Thanks to technology, if you can’t find anyone you know to share in your accountability, you can likely find what or who you need online.

Regular Check-ins and Adjustments to the Plan

Accountability must include check-ins, or your motivation could decline. Knowing someone will ask how it’s going is a motivator. If you and your accountability partner or partners find you are struggling to meet your goals, perhaps it’s time to adjust the goal-setting plan.

Celebrating Successes

Make goals exciting by celebrating your successes. Whether it’s one giant success or small steps along the way that you are completing, reward yourself when you accomplish your goals.

 Recognizing and Celebrating Small Victories

Let’s go back to the example of setting a goal to earn a degree. The ultimate goal is the degree; however, the small steps along the way are what get you there. Go ahead and celebrate passing a tough quiz or test or completing your first college semester.

Small victories matter and are a part of the bigger picture.

The Impact of Positive Reinforcement on Motivation

Positive reinforcement is motivating. When it comes to your goals, be sure you have people in your life who are encouraging you to reach them. And it works both ways. Make sure you are an encourager to others as well.

It’s nearly impossible to remain motivated when we only hear negative thoughts. Don’t be distressed if you are on your own with goal setting. We speak words to ourselves daily, even if only in our minds. Make those words positive. Be your biggest cheerleader.

Incorporating Rewards into the Goal-Setting Process

After working hard to achieve your goals, it’s essential to reward yourself as you accomplish each one. Rewards can be any number of things, from a nice dinner out to a day off from working on the goal. Set your rewards ahead of time to help motivate you to complete every step.

In conclusion, goals are a necessary part of life to help you reach your dreams and accomplish what is important to you. Make a plan, find support, and reward yourself for your hard work.


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Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.