How to Set Goals for the Future

Setting Goals

Have you got big aspirations for the future but aren’t sure where to start?

Well, that’s easy. Set some goals to work towards.

Now, I know a bunch of you just slammed on the breaks. Goals again… doesn’t anyone have a better suggestion?

I’ll admit that I thought goal setting was a waste of energy for a long time. But that’s no longer the case. I’ve seen their power through both personal experience and the science behind it. There is a very clear link between goal setting and higher achievement.

Setting goals has plenty of benefits to mention, but we’ll just cover the more important ones. Setting a goal brings everything into focus and provides direction. You know where you need to go. This makes it easier to determine how to spend time and resources, how to make decisions and what’s really important to you.

For more detail on the benefits of goal setting, check out articles from The Peak Performance Center and The Happy Manager.

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”

Bill Copeland

With all of this in mind, avoid those pesky New Year’s resolutions.Deciding that you want to make a change is great.  Deciding to start at a future date is not.  

It’s an elaborate way of making excuses. You’ll have convinced yourself that you’re doing the right thing. But in reality, you’re delaying the action you want to take. You’re buying yourself more time to come up with a new excuse.

Furthermore, if the change you want to make can wait another few days, weeks or months, then it can’t really be that important can it? That’s the message you’re sending to your subconscious. No wonder most of them fail.

Mountaintop Goals

2019 begins in a few days. But you should start right now.

And on that note, let’s start setting goals.


Step 1

The first step is fairly simple. You just need to make a list of the various areas of your life in which you could set a goal. This will be different for everyone, but the typical ones tend to be career, relationships, fitness, finances and specific hobbies.

As you list them, put them in order of how much they mean to you. This will give you an idea of how important the goals might be after you set them.


Step 2

Now, go through each of these categories separately and for each one, list some things that you’d like to accomplish.

List as many as you can think of. This is just a brainstorming phase. We’ll cut them down in the next step.

While doing this, keep in mind the importance of goals being somewhat realistic. There’s no point in me setting a goal to become an NBA player in 6 months. I’m a short, white guy that lives in Australia. Not to mention I suck at basketball.

But at the same time, don’t be afraid to go big. Setting a goal beyond what you think you’re capable of can be powerful for pushing your limits.

“You have to set goals that are almost out of reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential.”

Steve Garvey

Step 3

You’ve got a list of potential goals for each category. But we need to cut them down to a manageable number.

To do this, you’ll need to consider:

  • The category – A fitness goal might not be as important to you as a career goal.
  • Time constraints – Is it possible for this to happen within the next year?
  • Values – Does the goal line up with the person you want to become in the future? (Getting a promotion might not be in your best interests if you’re not in a career you enjoy)
  • Will it drive you? – Is this goal something that could get you out of bed early? Will it drive you to work hard? Setting a goal to run a marathon might not work if you hate running. In that case, you might be better off finding a fitness goal that you could enjoy.

Before deciding on anything, you’ll need to make sure your goals are SMART. Here’s the rundown:

Specific – Know exactly what you’re going to accomplish. E.g Lose 5 kilograms

Measurable – Be able to measure your progress and determine exactly when you succeed. E.g You can accurately measure your weight on a scale, but not your level of happiness.

Attainable – Make sure it’s possible. For some goals, you might need to develop certain skills in order to make it possible.

Relevant – Ensure the goal is heading in the same direction as your broader aims and dreams.

Timely – Ensure you have an appropriate amount of time. Both enough to potentially complete it, but not so much that you’ll waste time.

I’d recommend choosing 1-3 from each category. Some people, like myself won’t be able to focus on more than 5 or 6 goals at a time. You’ll need to see what works for you.

Once you’ve made your decision – congratulations – you’ve set your goals. But we aren’t done yet.

Targeting goals


Step 4

Now that you have some goals, we’re going to break them down into smaller steps that can help you reach them. These will be your objectives.

These will be things that need to happen before you can achieve the goal. This could include:

  • Learning a specific skill
  • Organizing something
  • Finding a resource

For example, if you wanted to learn to play a specific song on piano, then there might be a few objectives that you’d need to complete before it would be possible. You’d need to find a piano to practice on. You might need to call a teacher and set up some lessons. You’ll probably need to learn to read sheet music.

All of these things would be good objectives to focus on. But keep in mind that objectives should be SMART just like the goals they support.

If you establish a good list of objectives for a goal, it will act as your plan of action. It will clearly show what you’ll need to do to make your goal happen. It makes everything a bit more real and moves the goal from a pipe dream to something more attainable.

“Most “impossible” goals can be met simply by breaking them down into bite size chunks, writing them down, believing them, and then going full speed ahead as if they were routine.”

Don Lancaster

Step 5

Just in case you haven’t already. Make sure you write all of this down. For a start, it will help you remember it. But more importantly, your odds of success actually go up when you write down your goals.

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own.”

Mark Victor Hansen

And that’s the whole process. Simple.

One last reminder. Remember to be ambitious.  Set goals that will push your limits. You’re ready to conquer 2019. Take no prisoners.

But first, it’s time for some accountability. Let me know which goals you’re most excited about.

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