The Art of Goal Setting: Making Goals Your Own

Goal setting is an art because it is personal to the person setting the goal. There are some standards to goal setting that will propel you and motivate you to set your next goal and your next. How do you set a goal? First, let us look at the difference between a goal and desire.

What is the difference between a goal and desire?

Once you understand the difference between a goal and desire, you will be unstoppable in your motivation to achieve your next objective. When you set a goal, the outcome is possible and actionable. Desire is not always in your control and may not have actionable steps. You can take your desires and set goals for them. For example, wanting to lose weight is a desire, while losing 50 lbs by the office Christmas party’s day is a goal. You can set a time frame and actionable steps towards your goal, while the desire to lose weight does not lead you to the measures necessary to complete your goal.

Goals provide a measuring stick for progress. Goals enhance productivity. They bolster self-esteem. And most of all, goals increase commitment, so you’re more likely to achieve whatever you set out to conquer.

Source: The Goals That Guide Us | Psychology Today

Are there standards for setting goals?

The Golden Rule of goal setting is to make them SMART. What does SMART mean? A SMART goal means it is Specific, Meaningful, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Timely. When your goals have all of these aspects, they are easier to achieve.

If you are having trouble identifying a goal, try the WOOP Method from Gabriele Oettingen, Ph.D., a psychologist at New York University. With WOOP, you define a wish or desire that is challenging but possible and visualize it. You also envision the outcome and think of obstacles that you may encounter. The final step is to plan in case the obstacle is realized. WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.

Another tactic to creating achievable goals is to make them HARD, says Mark Murphy, a leadership consultant and author of Hard Goals: The Secret to Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. When your goals are Heartfelt, Animated, Required, and Difficult, you will have more motivation to complete the goal and overcome procrastination.

Goal created. I’m done, right?

Whether your goal was formulated with SMART, HARD, WOOP, or some other acronym, it is only the first step in the process of achieving your goal. You will need to review your goals to ensure the goals you set still align with your priorities in life. You can review your progress yearly, quarterly, or monthly. Upon review, if you decide that your life goals have changed, that is ok!!! It is better to acknowledge the difference in your life and let go of the earlier goal. Or maybe the goal needs to be tweaked a little to accommodate life circumstances.

Failure IS an option!

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t reach your goal. Look back and determine if you set a SMART goal or if the goal was achievable. You may have set the goal too big. Maybe you did not give yourself enough time. Did the goal you set align with your values? Did you set a positive goal? Working toward a positive can be easier than trying to cut something out.

Write down your goals.

You don’t have to post them all over the house unless you want to. You do need to keep your goals in a written format to refer to. Create a word document, use a page of your journal or planner, or post your goals on a bulletin board. Life will continue, and sometimes it is hard to remember what goals we have set for ourselves. Write them down so you can refer and remember.

goals sign post pointing in the direction of productivity in austin texasConsider the Obstacles

Make a list of what could go wrong and plan for how to overcome it.  By thinking about this now, you will be better able to handle the obstacles that may arise. For example, when you start a new healthy eating plan, you may face the obstacle of a friend’s birthday coming up.  Consider how you will handle yourself when the birthday cake comes to the table.  By having a plan in place, you are more likely to succeed.

Record your progress.

Tracking the progress of your goals is an essential process of achieving your goal. Just thinking about it won’t get you there. You need to have an actionable plan and commit to a scheduled time to complete that project’s tasks. You can create an Excel spreadsheet to analyze your progress or something eye-catching on the refrigerator door.

Motivation comes from goal setting.

Have you ever thought, “I have no motivation, so setting goals is pointless?” Want to feel more motivated? Set a goal! Set larger goals first and break them down into smaller goals. Use a planner or an electronic calendar to set a target date for achieving your goal. Making smaller goals out of your life goals will help you to succeed.

Make sure the goal is personal to you!

Please don’t create a goal because you think it’s what others want you to do. There is no better way to set yourself up for failure than setting goals you don’t have an interest in. You will not be motivated to complete action steps unless you are interested in what you are trying to achieve.


The way we go about goal setting and reviewing our objectives is the key to our success. Goals need to be more precise than desires if we want to achieve them. Each person will go about this differently and will have great success if they understand their motivation for wanting to meet the goal and follow some basic steps. The art comes in with picking and choosing what works for you.

What will you try? Do you have your own system for developing goals? Let us know in the comments below.  Need help to set those goals and create a plan to achieve them?  Contact me!

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