How to Set Goals That Stick

It's important to set goals for yourself so that you have a plan for your life and know what you want to accomplish. Dreaming and developing goals is easy enough, but it's the following through and reaching those goals that can be difficult sometimes.

I wanted to share some goal-setting tips that have worked for me in hopes that they will help one of you.

Develop Your Goals and Make Them Specific

When thinking about goals, you need to think of them in three different ways: short term, midterm, and long term.

Short term goals are goals that you want to achieve within the next year. Midterm goals are things you want to accomplish in the next two to five years. Long term goals are goals that will take five or more years to complete. I also have a "someday" goal list. On this list are goals that I'd love to do a long, long time from now and that I keep in the back of my mind to guide me but wouldn't actively take steps to complete at this moment.

When coming up with goals you want to make them as specific as possible. Instead of "save money for a new car" you should write down exactly how much you want to save to get the car that you'd like to.

Write Your Goals Down and Look at Them Daily

I am a believer in writing down things if we want them to become reality. Writing my goals down, to me, is like making a contract with myself. Once you write your goals down, post them in places that you will see them at the times you need to be reminded of them the most.

If you have a food related weight goal, place it on the fridge. If you have a goal to save money to take your family on a vacation put a note in your wallet. Every time you are tempted to do something that is against your goal (like eat that 2nd piece of pie at midnight or buy that cute pair of sandals you don't really need) you will be reminded of what your goals are.

Break Larger Goals Into Smaller Ones and Give Them Due Dates

Once your larger goals are broken down into smaller, more manageable steps you should schedule them into your life. Pick a few action steps that you can do each week. For example, if your goal is to save money for an emergency fund you may need to figure out how much you are going to save each paycheck, rearrange your budget to save that amount, decide where you are going to put the money you save, and actually setup the account you are going to put the money in. All of these steps need to be done before you even put a penny in savings.

Putting a small step on your to-do list, like "figure out how much to save" is a lot easier to accomplish than "save money for an emergency fund". I know the easier the tasks on my to-do list, the more likely they are to get crossed off my list because they seem possible.

Consider Re-Examining Your Goals on a Regular Basis

People and situations change. What your long term "plan" for your life is now may look different from what it will be 20 years from now. Personally, I have some things that were goals even a few years back that would no longer be on my list of goals I want to reach. I'd suggest looking at your goal list at least a couple times a year and deciding if you want to keep the things on your list or add/delete anything on it.

I hope this article has helped you. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments and learn what you do to reach your goals.