“Goal setting” is a skill that is taught to us from a young age. Saving up allowance money or aiming to get a certain grade in a class is intuitive enough for most of us.

This is because humans are natural goal-setters. We feel good when we have something we are working toward and we can see ourselves making progress. Just imagine the feeling (bliss) you get when you scratch something off of your to-do list.

However, just because we enjoy having goals doesn’t always mean we set ourselves up to achieve them. In fact, lots of the time, our “goals” are lofty wishes that, if we’re honest with ourselves, we may not always be 100% committed to.

MindTools outlines five rules that should be followed when setting goals if you want to prepare yourself for maximum success:


Set goals that motivate you. Whether it’s chores, grocery shopping, or a mundane work task, we rarely feel excited to follow through on things that don’t motivate us. When you’re setting a goal, first ensure that it is something you are truly passionate about achieving.

Set SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Making sure that your goal explicitly meets these criteria.

Write your goals down. Something about writing something down on paper makes it feel like a commitment. Writing your goals down also allows you to be specific and detailed in what you wish to accomplish and how you are going to go about doing it. If you ever feel like you’ve veered off track of completing your goal, this writing could be a valuable tool to return to.

Build your action plan. It’s easier to get something done if you have a road map for how to do it. Your action plan is your recipe, a step-by-step set of instructions for how you will achieve your goal.

Stay persistent. Part of goal-setting is recognizing that there will be times when you may make little, no, or even negative progress on achieving your goal. If you are too hard on yourself about mistakes or the amount of time you believe success is taking, you may become discouraged, which could hinder your progress even further.


Are there any tricks you use when setting goals?