How to Set Goals and Achieve Them: Top 5 Methods to Try

The ability to set goals is a major component of success in life. The likelihood of achieving your goals and the strength of motivation that will move you towards what you want depends on the correct formulation of your goals. Throughout the history of coaching and therapy, many ways of goal setting have been invented. Most of them have similarities in approach and overlap with each other.

It’s good if you know different techniques for effective goal setting and know how to set goals correctly. If you don’t, then today you’re sure to find out. Here is how to set goals and achieve them using the most popular techniques.

Setting Goals and Achieving Them According to the Principles of Locke and Latham

Famous American psychologist Edwin Locke, together with Dr. Gary Latham developed their theory of goal setting back in 1966. Their scientific approach to goal setting is based on the key factors necessary to achieve a goal.

Concreteness and Clarity of Purpose

The goal should be formulated as concretely and understandably as possible for whoever is going to achieve it. This is already half of the success on the way to the realization of what has been conceived. To make the goal as specific as possible, you need to prescribe numerical and temporal markers that define exactly what needs to be achieved and when.

For example, the goal “to win at 20Bet Canada” is not formulated concretely, but the goal “to search for strategy in 3 months, look for sports events, and learn its rules” is already a specific goal. All that remains is to write down the exact dates and deadlines, and you can proceed to its implementation.

When you set a goal specifically and clearly, you already have a clear understanding of what you need to do, when to take these actions, and what goals you can set in the future to continue on the path of development. You won’t have confusion and abstraction, because you’ll have your own route from point A to point B. And that makes it much easier to achieve what you want.

Challenge Yourself

The perfect goal, according to Locke and Latham, is one that is difficult to achieve, but possible. People quickly lose interest in goals that are too easy because they require little effort to achieve. Overly difficult goals also soon demotivate because to achieve them in the foreseeable future is impossible, and the lack of a visible result takes away faith in themselves and their capabilities.

Involvement in Goal Realization

People become much more goal-oriented when they achieve something they really need and are close to. That’s why your goals should lie in the area of your needs and desires, and not be someone else’s ambitions. Anything that is imposed on you by others is better to cut off right away. Such goals will cause you internal protest and low motivation.

An important and necessary goal is one of the main conditions of its achievability. You must have maximum involvement in the process, otherwise, all efforts will turn out to be insufficient or unjustified.

Feedback and Recording Progress

If you do not analyze your way to the goal, its achievement will become more and more impossible for you. Not only do you need to follow the path you have set, but also regularly look back at what you have already accomplished. It helps to rejoice in the successes achieved, to find and analyze mistakes in time, to correct your blunders and to correct the road map as necessary.

Every day, week, month, summarize small results: what you have achieved and how, what failed and why, what else you can do and how to do it, what you should not do anymore.

Breaking Goals Into Smaller Ones

You have an ambitious goal, and the mere thought of the need for its implementation already inspires fear. There are various excuses why you can not do it, and what prevents you. Consequently, there are conclusions that you do not really need to achieve what you have conceived, that your life is quite successful without it.

Are you familiar with such feelings and fears? Do not worry, similar thoughts appear in all who set themselves serious goals and try to achieve them. To get rid of this fear, divide your goal into smaller ones. This approach allows you to move step by step toward greater achievements, seeing the intermediate steps and clearly understanding what needs to be done and why.

How to Set SMART Goals Correctly

This goal was invented by the American scientist and economist Peter Drucker. His theory of goal-setting has something in common with the method of Locke and Latham. Judge for yourself, each letter in the above abbreviation has its own transcription and is responsible for a specific factor of goal setting, namely:

  • Specific – the goal must be specific and conform to the 5W principle, that is, it must answer the questions Who, What, Why, When, Where.
  • Measurable – the goal must be measurable and evaluated by specific criteria, for example, on a 10-point scale, where 10 is the maximum degree of satisfaction with what has been achieved (the parameters of compliance with these criteria must also be established, that is, you must answer yourself what it means to be satisfied with the goal, what will testify to this).
  • Achievable – the goal must be achievable and realistic, i.e. you must be able to achieve it at least in the future.
  • Relevant – the goal must be relevant to you, so you want to achieve it, and be motivated to take the necessary actions.
  • Time-bound – the goal must be defined in time, that is, it must have a specific deadline (a goal without a deadline is just a dream that you do not know whether it will come true or not).

How to Set Goals According to Ivy Lee’s Principle

American journalist Ivy Lee came up with his own way of goal-setting, which has also become popular and applied in practice. He suggested setting goals by the following step-by-step principle:

  1. At the end of the day, write down 6 important goals/goals for the next day.
  2. Arrange these six goals in order of priority, where the very first goal is the most important.
  3. In the morning of the next day you should start the first goal and move on to the second only after its completion, and so move from the beginning to the end of the list.
  4. If by the end of the day, all six goals have not been completed, the list of goals for the next day should begin with them and with the same priority, the remaining goals to 6 will be new.

Lists of goals should be written every day and with a clear limitation of their number. This will teach you to put your plans on paper, which increases the chances of their fulfillment, as well as to highlight important tasks among the minor ones and clearly understand in what order to do what.

How to Achieve Eisenhower Goals

If you’re having trouble prioritizing your goals, you can use the Eisenhower Matrix. It will allow you to quickly make a plan with the order of tasks you want to accomplish.

U.S. President Dwight David Eisenhower was a very busy man, and he did not have enough time for everything.

So he came up with a task prioritization square with four sectors:

  • Sector A are the urgent and important things that need to be done first.
  • Sector B are non-urgent important things, that is, things that must be done according to a specific plan in order to achieve a goal.
  • Sector C includes urgent unimportant tasks, usually routine tasks that should be done quickly so that they do not take away attention.
  • Sector D consists of non-urgent and unimportant tasks that can be done in your free time or in its absence, and even excluded from the list at all (as an option, they can be delegated to other people, if they are not busy with more important things).

Try to use this matrix when setting tasks and sort your activities this way. The efficiency and productivity of your activities should increase.

How to Set Goals With Mental Contrasting

When you need to look at your goals from different angles to understand the best way to achieve them, you can apply the technique of mental contrasting. It consists of the following:

  1. Write your goal in a notebook.
  2. Imagine in your mind that it is already achieved, feel the emotions associated with it and write in your notebook one important change that will happen in your life at that very moment.
  3. Now think about the obstacles to your goal that may arise, and also write down one of them, the most important one in your opinion.
  4. Next write down one more positive change after reaching the goal, and then one more obstacle. And so on as long as the thoughts come to your mind.

When the list is made, carefully analyze it and assess whether the goal is worth facing such obstacles for the sake of appropriate changes. This allows you to weed out ineffective and low-impact goals and work through the difficulties on the way to the aspirations that really matter to you.

Now you have 5 different approaches to building goals and setting them correctly in turn. Try them all and determine which method works best for you. It may turn out that each of the methods is effective in a certain case, or you can skillfully combine several methods of goal-setting.