Goals Setting & Achieving Them

Last Update: September 03, 2015

According to my online dictionary,

Dream - a vision voluntarily indulged in while awake

Goal - the result or achievement toward which effort is directed

We all have dreams, each and every one of us. Dreams can represent desires for material objects (like a new car, new house) or monetary based (being a millionaire, being debt free, taking a trip to Disney Land). Now that we have a dream, something to inspire us, how are we going to achieve it?

Some dreams will never come true, regardless of how much we wish and plan. Let us focus on the dreams that are attainable. Take a family struggling to pay their light bill and their dream is to go to Disneyland. Impossible you say? No, not at all. It probably will not happen tomorrow, but it is possible by setting very strong goals and sticking to them.

There is a joke that asks How do you eat an Elephant? The answer is one bite at a time. Old joke, but very much on target for setting your goals and achieving them. If you follow these very simple steps and continually review and adjust them, you will achieve just about any goal you set for yourself.

I used to work for a sales organization where the reps were given very specific dollar revenue goals each month. Some reps made their goal sporadically, always blaming this client or that for failing to achieve the requested amount. They had no plan on how they were going to achieve their goal nor did they review their progress on a timely basis. They kept their fingers crossed and hoped that the sales would magically appear.

And then there were other reps who consistently achieved their goals and beyond. These reps knew what their goal was and made plans to reach it every month.

I was privileged enough to work with a young woman, who took goal setting to the extreme (or at least thought so at the time). She would calculate exactly how much she had to sell each and every day. Tina stayed on the phone until she reached her daily goal, usually exceeding her daily requirement, never deviating by taking long lunches or too many breaks. She would bank the extra money for an off day. Day after day without fail, Tina would make her daily goal and beyond. The entire time I knew her, Tina only missed her monthly goal once or twice and that was in 8 years of working together! She knew to chop up the elephant into daily bite-size pieces and stayed on course to achieve it. She never looked at her total numbers, at what was still to sell; just what she had to sell that day.

The SMART Approach - Setting your goal

Step One Make sure your goals fit the outline below.

Specific Make sure your goal is very specific when selected. It needs to answer the 5 Ws; who, what, where, when and why. A process should immediately jump to mind when you set your goal properly. Daily sales of $1,750 is the process in the example below.

Example Sell $1,750 daily until I reach my total goal of $52,500 for the month.

Measurable Set your goal so you know when you reach it. In the goal above your finish line was when you reached $52,500 in sales (long term goal) or the $1,750 a day (short term goal).

Attainable You need to make sure the goal you set is something you want, not something pushed upon you. Sales goals are tricky since it is your boss doing the pushing, but ultimately it is your choice to accept the goal if you want to keep your job. You need to make sure the goal fits your needs/skill level as well. Perhaps a goal of $1,750 daily when you know your daily average is $2,500 is too low; a goal set too low does no one any good. On the other hand, if you are making enough income at $750 a day to suit your needs, you may not be motivated to stretch and reach for that higher goal.

Actionable Make sure the goal is centered on action. In the example SELL is the action verb. A bad choice for this goal would have been; I want to make more sales next month. Where is the action? How are you getting there? Too many questions left unanswered. Be sure to have action in your goal.

Accountable Is there someone who checks on your progress? Can you hold yourself personally accountable for your actions or lack thereof? If your goal is to Lose 50 pounds in a year, who is bringing you to task when you have that second bowl of ice cream? Find someone who will require an explanation if you slack off from striving for your goal. In the case of the sales objective, it is ultimately your boss again, but it could just as easily be your teammate, pointing to your low sales when you take extra time for lunch without having your goals met.

Realistic In the sales goal above, if your best month ever was $27,000 and now they want you to sell $52,500, is there any way? That is not realistic. It is the same as setting a goal of losing 20 pounds before next weekend for your high school reunion. Not remotely possible. And when you set a goal too high, you lose heart and interest. You realize early on that you are not going to make the goal and give up. A properly set goal should stretch you, but not be impossible to reach.

Time Sensitive A goal without a ending date is only a dream. I want to be in the Olympics. Really, great! When? The example goal is very specific with daily goals (short term) as well as the total goal for the month (long term). Do not set completion times to impress anyone, remember being realistic. Losing 20 pounds in a week is setting a time, but is really achievable? On the other hand, do not set one too far out. You will lose sight of the goal and interest before completion. In the example above, what if the goal was $157,500 for the quarter (3 months at $52,500) with no other time sensitive goal? Most of us would lose focus long before the end of the quarter, resulting in poor results. Take your longer goals (I want to lose 50 pounds by Christmas which is 10 months away). Fifty pounds right now might seem daunting, but how about 5 pounds a month? Think you could do that?

Steps to achieving your goal

Step Two Set your goals. Now that we know how, we need to do it. And WRITE THEM DOWN. Study after study shows that groups where goals are written down instead of just verbalized, or worse yet imagined, achieve a higher percentage of their goals.

Goals should be set for different time frames and different aspects of your life. There are financial goals of course; I will increase my annual income by $10,000 by the end of the year, but also non-financial ones as well; I will finish putting up the shelves in the garage this weekend. Whatever your goal is, WRITE IT DOWN, making sure to follow the SMART approach from above. Involve more people if needed. A goal of painting the house by next weekend might include your entire family. Make sure they are on track, or at least understand and agree with your goals. Setting a goal to paint the house when your children have a baseball tournament might not be the best approach.

Just as there are different types of goals, there need to be goals for varying time ranges too. Experts typically recommend goals set for:

  • 1 month
  • 6 month
  • Year
  • 5 year
  • 10 year

Breakdown the bigger or more long term goals into shorter, bite sized goals (Remember the elephant?) If your goal is to 500 boxes of cookies in the next 5 weeks (long term) break it down into 100 boxes a week, or even 20 boxes on average daily (taking the weekend off). Again, small bite size goals. See it as a blueprint, a step by step set of instructions on how you are going to achieve your goals.

Write them down and then make copies of the goals. Separate sheets for short term and long term goals. You want to see the long term goals, but not focus on them daily. Make sure you can see them, especially the more short term ones, several times a day. If losing weight is a goal, perfect place for the list is on the refrigerator. Many individuals place a copy of their goals on the bathroom mirror, again some place they will see every day.

Step Three Share your goals. Remember the accountable part in the example above? Who is going to bring you to task if you slip? Some of us are single minded enough that we can be self-accountable, but it would be nice to have someone in your corner as well. Find someone who not only can applaud when the small goals are achieved (daily sales of $1,750) but can commiserate when the small goals are missed. If the goal is family oriented, find a time to have a family meeting, bringing everyone up to date on your goal status and checking on theirs.

Step Four Review your goals on a consistent basis. Waiting until Friday afternoon to see if you hit your weekly sales goal will not help much. Check daily to see your progress. If you are behind on numbers Tuesday afternoon, you know you need to increase your efforts the other three days. However if you are ahead of goal at this point, DO NOT TAKE YOUR FOOT OFF THE GAS. Do not slow down. Keep the momentum going till the end of the time frame, until Friday afternoon. With the 5 pound loss weekly, if you have already lost 3 pounds on Tuesday that does not mean you can have a huge bowl of ice-cream. Wait till Friday when you get on the scale for a weigh-in. You would be surprised by how much more you achieved.

Sometimes you will need to adjust the goals. If you have overachieved your goals consistently for the past 2 or 3 weeks, perhaps the goal was not set high enough. Take it up a notch or two. Remember, a goal should stretch you. On the other hand, say you have missed your weekly goal consistently. Perhaps it was a little too ambitious? Did something unforeseen happen that will influence future outcomes? It is okay to adjust the shorter term goals downward, but make sure you carry that adjust through to your long term goals as well. For example, assume your short term goal was losing 10 pounds a week with long term goal of 100 pounds in 10 weeks. However, you were consistently only losing 5 pounds a week. No problem, adjust your short term goal to 5 pounds, maybe stretching slightly to 6 or 7 pounds, but you will need to understand that there is no way you will reach your 100 pound goal in 10 weeks. Your long term goal needs to be adjusted as well; in this example to 50 or perhaps 60 pounds in the 10 weeks.

Step Five Celebrate victories. When you achieve your goals, short or long term, do something special. Keep your long term goal in mind when you celebrate though. For example, losing the 10 pounds in a week does not mean you can have a huge bowl of ice cream as a reward (yeah, unfortunately I like ice cream).

Using these five steps to setting your goals will allow you to achieve much more than ever before. In January, I like to review not only my annual goals from the previous year, but several of the years before as well. It is nice to look back and see all that I have accomplished because I set a goal for myself and stuck to it. I have every confidence that with this information you can set your goals and then achieve them through Wealthy Affiliate. Good luck to all!

Join the Discussion
Write something…
Recent messages
Ken-Pringle Premium
Excellent presentation Cathy.
You are so right on the target here.
One very important step on the Success Journey.
Set your goals so you know where you are headed.
Write them down and share them with at least one
other person, to help you stay accountable.

Trying to achieve successes without setting goals
is like going blind on the journey of 1000 miles.
You see nothing. How do you know you have arrived?
Cathy2219 Premium
thanks...was afraid it was a little long...getting in the hang of doing these blog things....next few i need to make more focused on wa
Ken-Pringle Premium
Length is OK as long as it is valuable information.
Great job.
Slappie Premium
Very good stuff Cathy
Cathy2219 Premium
thanks guys for all the nice comments....this one was near and dear to my heart
judebanks Premium
Well stated, Cathy. You've given some useful pointers for goals setting. I enjoyed reading it. ~Jude
CherylK Premium
Wow...this is really good, Cathy! I honestly need to be better about writing down my daily goals. Not just my WA goals but other tasks I tend to put off so I can work on WA - ha! So today I'm writing down two additional tasks for the day. Thanks for the inspiration!
Cathy2219 Premium
thanks for the kind words....now that i've written about them guess i need to follow my own instructions (LOL)

totally in agreement with you on time...just never is enough