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Goal Setting: Where to Start

Consciously or subconsciously, most people set goals throughout the day. These goals range from concrete (like “finish this project before our 10 a.m. meeting”) to abstract (like “don’t worry so much”). 

But what sets active goals apart from passive goals is the approach. You’ll find the most success by setting attainable goals and developing a plan to achieve them. We’re giving you five tips for becoming a goal-setting (and achieving!) guru.  

   

Choose goals that excite you  

This may seem obvious, but when you’re weighing options and choosing a path for your life, you should always choose the long-term goals that excite you most.   

Consider your top priorities in life: What is most important to you? What makes you happy? What activities make you feel like you’re making a difference in the world? When you’re setting goals, ensure that each goal aligns with your values and interests in order to motivate yourself to see them through.  

  

Write down your goals on paper  

It’s simply not enough to keep a goal locked away in your mind. Committing your goals, both big and small, to paper moves you closer toward the next steps in making them a reality. Using your Day-Timer planner, choose your top goals to focus on each week, each month, and each year. Track your progress and calculate how long each step takes you.   

Keeping track of your goals on paper not only makes the process more organized but it also increases the likelihood that you will complete each goal. Plus, you may find that seeing your progress keeps you motivated! 

   

Draft SMART goals  

The SMART acronym helps you write more precise goals that are contextualized and reasonable. Choose goals for yourself that are:  

  1. Specific: Include as many details as possible (who, what, when, how, etc.) so your goal isn’t vague. Specific goals are less daunting and provide more direction.  
  2. Measurable: Figure out how you’ll track your progress and measure your results so you’ll know how much time you should dedicate per day and when your goal is accomplished.  
  3. Achievable: Develop reasonable goals that you can accomplish with your current resources and skills.  
  4. Relevant: Create goals that truly matter to you. How does this goal line up with your passions, and how will it make you happier?   
  5. Time-Bound: Select a hard deadline for all of your goals so you can stick to a timeline. Procrastinating is out of the question when your goals are time-bound.     

Create an action plan  

Following the SMART format is essential for creating a realistic goal that you’re invested in, but you must also write down the steps that are required to achieve the goal. Create a step-by-step guide that outlines how you will accomplish your goal so you don’t get lost in uncertainty or details.  

By writing down an action plan in your Day-Timer planner, you can choose minor tasks to tackle each day so you’re continually making progress on your goal. For demanding and multifaceted goals, an action plan is a must; without it you won’t know how to approach the problem.    

   

Commit to seeing it through  

Setting goals can prove a waste of time if you don’t set reminders and create accountability for yourself. Allot time slots in your planner each week for reviewing and analyzing your goals so you can become more efficient at planning and executing your action plan. Choose rewards for yourself that motivate you to hit each deadline and benchmark.