Goal Setting (Part 2): 4 Ways to Set Killer Goals That You'll Actually Accomplish

goal setting author samantha eklund

So now that you know why you should be setting goals, let’s talk about how you can accomplish them. It’s the million-dollar question with goal setting: “How can I set a goal that I’ll actually accomplish?”

Answer: it depends on you!

Goal setting is not a one-size-fits-all type of practice. It depends on your personality and your specific life situation, and just requires some smart practical actions that will help ensure your success.

As such, I’ve crafted the four methods below to help you create the best goals for you so that your odds of accomplishing them are maximized!

Method #1: Set goals for your personality type.

In The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris proposes that the bigger the goal, the more likely you are to actually accomplish it because you’ll move heaven and earth to get to it, whereas with an average one you’ll quickly run out of steam. For me, this is 100% true. The more bizarre, outlandish, and “that’ll never happen” a goal is, the more likely I am to pursue it. “Realistic” goals don’t motivate me in the slightest.

However, someone I know is the complete opposite. The goals that I set don’t resonate with him at all. He’s the kind of person that’s down to earth, resolute, and ok with doing things for the long term. Realistic and achievable goals are the kinds of ones that get him motivated. He can clearly see their beginning and end point, and how success might be achieved.

So how can you set killer goals that you’ll actually accomplish? It depends on your personality!

If bigger and badder goals make your heart race and ambition soar… then set ridiculous, out-of-this-world goals!

If realistic and achievable goals make you feel like a million bucks… then set reasonable goals.

Method #2: avoid setting conflicting goals by identifying your immediate priorities.

This might sound obvious, but can be easy to miss. If you set a few goals at a time, make sure they align with each other. For example, if you set a goal to make extra money by getting second job and also have a goal to spend time with your family, those two goals are going to conflict. Sure, in some cases they might work—like if you’re going to spend less time on your own hobbies to chill with your family—but in most cases they won’t work in unison.

In most cases this happens because you do, in fact, have conflicting priorities. You might want to make more money and also spend more time with our family, but you may need to choose which one matters to you more or is most urgent—for a season. If your family really needs you right now, give them more of your time for a few months and then pick up a seasonal job. That way it’ll be over in a few months and then you can devote time back to them afterward.

Be conscious of this as you set your goals, otherwise you won’t be setting yourself up for success.

Method #3: Set goals that YOU want to accomplish.

Again, sounds obvious right? However, we set goals for other people all the time. At New Year’s I think we all set weight-loss goals because there’s a lot of cultural pressure to do so. Overall we feel pressured to lose weight. We can blame it on magazines all we want, but the fact is that everyone around us, including our overseas neighbors who have labeled us as “fat Americans” contributes to the pressure. Even the people who scream the loudest about opposing body shaming don’t hesitate to use being “fat” as the first insult they can hurl at people they don’t like. The fact is, many of us want to lose weight because we’re told that if we do so, we’ll be more loved by others. Working on a goal that you really don’t desire is pretty much pointless.

When you’re working on a goal for someone other than yourself, you’ll likely give up the moment you hit an obstacle. Or two, or five, or ten. As we all know, losing weight isn’t easy. So if we’re simply doing it to impress people, we’re likely to fail. However, if we truly want it in order to feel healthy and proud of ourselves and we won’t have to post pictures of our abs all over Instagram for the approval of others once we accomplish it, then we’ll likely succeed.

Method #4: Create a plan on how you’re going to accomplish these goals.

It’s not enough to set a goal by just writing it down and not creating any steps to get you there. If you’ve determined that you want to lose 10lbs in the next month, do the work to figure out how that’s going to happen. Plan out your meals for the next month—yes, every day of them. Write them out and stick them to your fridge as a physical reminder of what you’re doing. Log the whole day into a food journal at the beginning of the day (yes before you’ve eaten anything) so that you’ll be more likely to stick to them. Schedule an exercise session every morning (or afternoon, or evening) and put a reminder in your phone to alert you to it. Vow to yourself that you’re not allowed to do anything else during that time, even if you choose to skip it (so that you’re not rewarding yourself with TV or anything else by skipping). Get rid of the junk food in your house. Ask your spouse or family for help with this, perhaps by encouraging you to stick to your workouts or by not bringing home junk food.

If your goals or dreams are more business-minded, do the research on what it’ll take to make them into a reality and then create a game plan. Have a dream to write a book? Schedule an hour every single day to sit down and write. Once you’ve done a week of that, see how many words you’re writing (on average) per day, and estimate how many you want your book to be. Calculate approximately how many days it’ll take you to write your manuscript, then make a goal of finishing it by that day (adding on an extra week or two always helps, since life will inevitably get in the way some days).

Journals, planners, online project trackers, and even the Notes app in your phone are great tools to get you started on this!

In summary:

Your goals should depend on you, so don’t feel pressure to set ones like everyone else is. If big goals make you cringe, then start with small ones instead, and vice versa. Make sure that the goals you do come up with don’t conflict with one another, or else you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. Although this sound obvious, it’s more common than you might think and requires you to be totally honest with yourself about what each goal will require of you.

Also be honest about who the goals are for—you, or others? While setting up some goals for the sake of others (like for the benefit of your family) is very admirable and meaningful, be careful that you’re not creating goals merely to impress people. Those type of goals will be very hard to accomplish and, ultimately, meaningless in your life. Whatever you do, don’t just create a goal and let it sit in your head. You must externalize it by at least writing it down and creating the steps to get there in order for it to happen. Otherwise, life will knock you off course and it will be nearly impossible to get back on track and stay there.

Action item:

Go through each recommendation and ask yourself if you’ve applied them in your own goal-setting process. If not, now might be a great time to adjust some of them.

Join the convo! ;-)

Remember to also post a comment below to join the conversation, especially if you had any insightful moments or if you have any questions!