7 ways to set goals and achieve them

Most of us have goals we want to accomplish but reaching them isn't always easy. Here are some steps that could help you on your way.

If you’re staring out the window fantasising about that health, relationship or career goal you still want to achieve, you’re not alone.

Procrastination can often be a roadblock to people achieving their goals. It’s when that voice in your head says not today, maybe tomorrow, so you continue to postpone, stall and delay.

If you’re nodding your head, thinking yes that’s you, some of the below tips for success may help you turn that goal, whatever it may be, into a reality.

Common goals people set themselves

Sometimes it helps to think about the goals other people set themselves to help you realise what you could be doing. Some common ones1 typically revolve around:

  • Health - Eating more nutritious food, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, reducing stress 
  • Career - Finding a new job, changing industries, getting a promotion, asking for a pay rise
  • Finances - Spending smarter, saving, reducing debt, getting into the property market
  • Education - Learning a trade, finishing your school certificate, obtaining a diploma or degree
  • Relationships - Spending more time with loved ones, reducing conflict, making new friends
  • Hobbies - Writing a book, learning a musical instrument, taking language lessons
  • Travel - Going overseas, visiting family interstate, taking short breaks more regularly.

Golden nuggets for goal setting

Various studies, surveys and research papers on the topic of setting goals and successfully achieving them, suggest a range of approaches. Some of these include:

  1. Adopt a SMART approach
    This is a popular method for setting goals. It’s a simple five-step approach to ensure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.2
  2. Write your goals down and commit to them
    Put pen to paper and clarify what it is you want to accomplish. Those who write their goals down are around 50% more successful than those who don’t.3
  3. Share your plans and be accountable
    Make your goal known to someone close to you. It’ll make you accountable and it’s a good way to seek encouragement. More than 70% of people who send a weekly update to a friend, achieve their goal, compared to 35%, who keep goals to themselves.4
  4. Tackle one thing at a time
    Work on one rather than multiple goals at once so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Having too many goals is why around a fifth of people fail to keep them.5
  5. If it’s a big task, turn it into smaller steps
    To successfully achieve a large goal, many suggest breaking it into sizable chunks6. If it’s an exercise goal for instance, start working out two days a week and build up from there.
  6. Use an app to monitor your progress
    Download an app to stay motivated and remind you what it was you set out to do. People who use mobile apps to monitor their progress are more often successful.7
  7. Don’t worry about minor setbacks
    If you fall off the wagon, take another stab at things and remember to celebrate small wins along the way.

If at first you don’t succeed try, try again

Goals need to be realistic—yes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t think big. Consider what these people8 did:

  • Helen Keller was deaf and blind but learned to read and write, gained a bachelor degree, and became a well-known author and lecturer
  • Nelson Mandela spent over 20 years in prison for his opposition to the apartheid regime and later was elected the first leader of a democratic South Africa and won a Nobel Peace Prize
  • Thomas Edison was fired from his first job and despite being almost penniless, became one of the most prolific inventors of his generation. He created the light bulb among many things
  • J.K. Rowling was a single mother on benefits. Her manuscript for Harry Potter was rejected several times before she became the world’s best-selling children’s author 
  • Colonel Sanders dropped out in seventh grade. It wasn’t until he was 62 he franchised KFC.9

Remember - a wish without a plan is just a dream. If you didn’t do what you set out to do yesterday, it’s never too late to put something in place today.

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© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.