Goal Setting and Achievement

Do you have a plan for Goal Setting and Achievement? An idea, or a vision for how you want a certain area of your life or your entire life to play out? If you were asked to elaborate on the topic “what I want to achieve in my life”, would you find it easy? Do you have an ideal future in your mind, or written somewhere ready to be implemented into reality?

A successful life is an outcome of conscious decisions, goal setting, and achievements, put into place at specific times, repeatedly. It doesn’t just happen. You must deliberately set yourself up for success.

One reason many people feel lost in life is that they have not figured what they want out of life yet. Having clear goals in life is the best way to set up for success, happiness, and fulfillment. This deliberate positioning is the bridge that will get you into your ideal future.

How does goal-setting lead to success?

As with other topics of discourse, there are varying opinions about goals and their relevance to success in life. While some believe in working toward a specific goal for each area of their lives, others would rather go with the flow, allowing time, chance, and fate to take their toll on their lives.

Although each one of us has a different definition of success, something is sure: goal setting binds us to reality and calls for periodic self-evaluation. Keep in mind when you want to achieve your own success ideals that working towards a goal is a way of deliberately carving a path towards success.

Relax, take it easy!

Many people shy away from goals because they have a slightly crooked view of what goal-setting is about. They believe that you have to set a goal so big that it is earth-shaking and status-shifting; that every goal should raise your income, or societal status, or make an attempt to save the world from global warming. That’s a lot of pressure; enough to send anyone running in the opposite direction of goal setting and deliberate achievements.

I’m not saying you can’t have a goal to rescue the world (actually, more people should have this goal). But as we will soon see, there are different types of goals. In life, simple goals such as: waking up earlier consistently, reading/writing several pages daily, having a family dinner thrice a week, and so on; are stepping stones that set you up for major life goals.

Not too much

As you start your journey into achieving your ideal future by goal-setting, one mistake you must avoid is excessiveness. Setting too many goals at once can overwhelm and even discourage you. Say, for example, a student sets a goal to improve academic performance. That’s a huge goal that will require lots of time and effort, and somehow, it might keep that student from pursuing other goals, like becoming student body president or school band captain.

Not too little either

While it is unwise to have too much on your plate at the same time, it is equally as hazardous to set goals that are not well-rounded. Life is multi-faceted (as we would soon see). Each one of these aspects need to be deliberately built. That’s what makes your life well-rounded. If you set only financial and career goals, your family and health may suffer. Set enough goals to cover every facet of your life.

Types of Goals based on timeline

In goal-setting, timing is everything. A goal timeline is something that keeps you in check and sees that your goal is actualized as and when due. With a timeline, what you have can be said to be a dream that may never see the light of day. Setting time to achieve a goal transforms an ordinary idea into a life-changing adventure.

Based on the time taken to achieve them, goals can be lifetime, long-term, short-term, or stepping-stones.

  1. Lifetime goals

If a goal will take between a year and an entire lifetime to accomplish, it is a lifetime goal. These are goals that define your future. They tell where you will be in 10 or 20 years to come. Setting life goals means planning to be the best future-you that you ever can be.

Here’s how to choose goals that will last a lifetime.

  • Mentally picture your ideal future self. This picture should cover all the different areas of your life: spiritual, career, finance, educational, relationships, health, and mental.
  • Ask questions that will help you find out what is most important to you; those things you will like to pursue. While answering these questions, keep the image of your future self in mind.

Where would you rather live after retirement? Are you ‘just comfortable’ or ‘very wealthy’? Are you married and to whom are you married? Do you have kids? Are you single? How would you gauge your spiritual walk? What leadership level do you want to operate in?

Let your lifetime goals be central to you; let them be things that you value. It’s your life, remember? If they are what you relate with, you’ll be motivated to keep pursuing them.

Keep in mind that your goals can change as you advance in age. The things you want at 25 may differ from what you will want at 50. This change is natural but it does not happen overnight. Take time to adjust your life goals accordingly.

  1. Long-term goals

These goals typically range from 5 to 10 years to achieve. You can’t complete them in weeks. A long-term goal demands planning, taking up specific steps and, adapting habits that will propel you toward an important milestone.

An example of a long-term goal is a freshman wanting to graduate with a 3.5 and above GPA. He won’t get there overnight. Instead, he has to set up a series of short-term goals that pave his way to that point.

His first step could be to eliminate time wasters like binge-watching YouTube and Netflix, or endless social media chatting. Then he will craft a workable study timetable that will allow effective studying. After that, he may join a functional study group.

Although the long-term goal is to maximize academic performance, this student has to set several short-term goals to get there.

  1. Short-term goals

These are goals that range from one month to 6 months. Short-term goals can also take up to a year to achieve. More often than not, short-term goals are set with the purpose of attaining a long-term goal, or a lifetime goal. Short-term goals can be split into monthly, weekly, and daily targets.

For that student, short-term goals like acing the midterms, or getting an A in a major can help him achieve his long-term goal of a 3.5 GPA.

  1. Stepping stone goals

As the name implies, stepping stones are steps that take you to your big goals. A short-term goal is built using stepping stones.

Studying for 5-7 hours daily is a stepping stone that can help that student ace every test and exam. Setting a budget, cutting expenses, and getting a promotion are stepping stones that can help achieve your short-term goal of clearing credit card debts within 12 months; and your long-term goals of building a retirement fund.

Whether your dream is to become an entrepreneur, a TV presenter, teacher, therapist, or a farmer, getting there involves setting goals that stir you in the direction of success. Classifying goals according to the processes involved and what factors act on them can help you figure out how to set short, medium, and long-term goals.

What are the three types of goals?

Goals could be classified as outcome (final results), performance (standards), or process (technique) goals. What is an outcome goal?

  • Outcome goals

These are coveted end results. Outcome goals serve as markers that compare your performance with the performances of others on the same path as you. They are end goals. For example: graduating in the top ten, or as the valedictorian of your class. In both cases, the outcome has to do with finishing top, yet it is hinged on the performances of others. Outcome goals are affected by many external factors.

  • Performance goals

You have far more control of performance goals than outcome goals. They are milestones that you achieve in a specified period.  For example: raising your average by 0.5 every semester. This performance goal is independent of external factors. You are the determinant.

  • Process goals

These goals are stepping stones that lead you to success. Process goals propel you into habit, curb excesses and improve your technique

These are goals that sharpen your technique and propel you into habits necessary for excellent performance. Process goals are strategies that improve you’re your ability to execute a skill. For example: studying for a specific number of hours each day, consistently, or mastering a program or software that can help you is useful for your field. Process goals are independent of the performance and actions of others. They depend on your efforts.

Goal-setting Theory

Setting goals for yourself will affect your subsequent performance. Carrying out goal-setting exercises is the easiest way to increase performance, motivation, and overall productivity. This is the summary of what is known as the goal-setting theory.

What is goal-setting theory?

Edwin Locke discovered, through his research on goal setting and performance, that people with specific and somewhat difficult, or challenging goals had better performances than those that had random and easy goals. Locke’s goal-setting theory points out that, achieving goals you set is greatly helped by certain principles. These are:

  1. Clarity

When goals are unambiguous and specific, they lead to better output and greater performance.

  1. Challenge

Everyone loves a good challenge now and again. The completion of a tough task gives a sense and accomplishment and readiness to take up anything. The drive to achieve concrete goals is fueled by the challenge it poses.

  1. Commitment

Once you understand and can relate to a goal, there will be a greater commitment to achieving it. Goal commitment ensures that you reach the end irrespective of how tough it gets.

  1. Feedback

Whether it is a self-goal or a work goal, periodic feedback is expected. This shows far you’ve come, clarifies grey areas, and refuels you for greater performance.

  1. Complexity

The right amount of complexity will both challenge and spur you to achieve the goals you set. Although one should employ effort to reach a goal unrealistic timelines and processes can deter you.

The Goal-Setting Process

In life, processes represent a series of action steps that help you achieve the desired end. And goal-setting has processes too. So what are the steps in the goal-setting process? These are processes that keep chaos at bay and guide you along lines of predictable results. They show you how to set goals and follow through with them.

What is the first step in goal-setting?

Goal-setting has never been easy for many people. And because of this, their performance has been below their capacities. Learning how to get better at setting goals is rudimentary to increasing productivity. Once you get a hold of it, you will find that goal-setting is quite simple. Below I will list the three steps to setting a goal easily.

  1. Develop the goals you want to achieve and put them on paper
  2. Break them into periods
  3. Make an action plan

Developing Goals

Before you start pursuing any goal, take time to ponder what you want to achieve. Ask yourself: What changes do I want? In specificterms, what do I want to accomplish this year?

What is the proper sequence of steps when developing goals?

  • Start by identifying those areas where you want a change.
  • Generate a list of prospective goals covering each area.
  • Ensure that they are S-M-A-R-T (more on this later)
  • Pen them down

Writing down your goals engraves them in stone. It makes your goals more real, tangible, and forceful. You can keep a life goal planner that will track your progress as you go along. Always use positive language when writing goals. Start sentence like this: my goal is to ______ Here are examples of how to write goals and objectives: My goal is to

  • Work out thirty minutes daily to lose 10 pounds in 6 weeks.
  • Wake up by 6 am on weekdays to write pages of my autobiography.
  • Spend five studying in the library daily to ace my midterms.

These are clear, specific and will get better results than just saying work out, wake up earlier, or read coursework.  

Break down goals into periods

When goals are broken down into short periods, they become easier to accomplish. For example, a 3-year goal will be easier to follow through than a 10-year goal. Goals could be weekly, monthly, or yearly.

Make an action plan

An action plan helps you break down goals into individual steps. It creates a systematic method for tracking your progress and measuring your goals. Action plans show you how to work towards your goals.

They are usually Mastering the art of setting smart goals is preliminary. Mastering how to make your goals a reality is your next big step. Irrespective of whether they are long, mid, or short term, the steps to achieve goals are similar. They show you how to work towards your goals effectively, thus increasing performance. No matter what level of challenge or complexity a goal poses to you, the golden rules of success require that you organize your goals to see their successful completion. After crafting an action plan, here are six steps to achieve your goals:

How to measure goals

These are metrics that show you how to evaluate your goals.

  • Set real deadlines
  • Pinpoint potential, obstacles
  • Figure out means to overcome each obstacle
  • Review
  • Measure your progress as you proceed and set new goals

The question ‘what goals should I set for myself’ is a common one. There are as many goal-setting areas as there are facets to your life. That is to say that you can set corresponding goals for each aspect of your life. This places goals into different categories. They show you what will be included when formulating goals and objectives.


Classes of goals based on category

  1. Career goals

Most times when people think of goals, career goals are the first to come to mind. Career goals are related to your work or business and usually make you bigger than before. When setting career goals, you can focus on:

  • Getting a promotion
  • Developing soft skills
  • Generating more money for your company and you of course
  • Making a career switch
  1. Financial goals

Money still makes the world go round, and one way or the other, all the other goals you set will be tied to your personal finance. Financial goals are aimed at gaining mastery over money as well as financial independence.

How to set financial goals

Irrespective of how old you are, how much you earn, or what job you work at, setting financial goals is a critical step towards financial security. If you have a job already, the first step is to answer this question honestly: how will this job help you achieve your goals of financial independence? To stabilize your finance, increase earning, savings and investments. Then reduce spending. You need a budget for this.


Short-term financial goals:

  • Establishing a workable budget
  • Creating an emergency fund
  • Offsetting credit card debts

Midterm goals for finance include:

  • Putting up a life insurance
  • Paying off student loans

Long term goals for finance include:

  • Starting a retirement saving
  • Increasing your retirement savings
  1. Personal development

Everyone wants to be a better person, or better at something. The surest way to make you better is to start pursuing some personal development goals. These goals are personal to you and should include things you care for and are passionate about.

Here are some yearly goal ideas for personal development

  • Becoming bilingual
  • Read more books
  • Take a personal retreat yearly.
  1. Spiritual goals

Setting goals for your spiritual development is the way to authentic happiness.  Spirituality opens you up to a meaningful, happy, and fulfilled life.

Spiritual goals include:

  • Building your prayer life
  • Going to church regularly
  • Meditating deeply daily
  • Studying religious books like the Bible
  1. Educational goals

Educating in itself never ends. Even when your college days are long over, there is still a necessity to continuously learn. Educational goals are often linked to career and personal development goals.

  • Get a perfect SAT score
  • Get into a prestigious college or university
  • Finish your degree
  • Get a master’s degree
  • Get an MBA
  1. Relationship goals

Having people around to share both your successes and failures with will make life easier and more fulfilling. Time dedicated to building relationships will pay off as better relationships will increase your happiness in life. Family and friends give you a reason to forge ahead. You can set relationship goals as a couple, as a family, or as friends.

As an individual your relationship goals can include these:

  • Get into a serious relationship
  • Get married
  • Make and keep good friends

As a couple:

  • Weekend getaways
  • Have children
  • Increase time spent with family

As friends you can:

  • Work out together weekly
  • Set up a periodic reunion
  1. Physical/health goals

Without good health, no other goal can be effectively pursued. When setting fitness goals, it’s best to choose goals that keep you healthy and motivated. Here are some pointers if you are unfamiliar with how to set fitness goals.

  • Focus on stabilizing your vital signs
  • Work on maintaining a healthy BMI
  • Seek to eat healthier
  • Increase immunity

Before starting, learn how to set weight loss goals. You can visit an expert for more assistance.

Goal-setting tools are designed to help you generate and pursue your tangible goals. They include physical objects, software, and applications that help you keep track of your tangible goals.

Traditional tools are journals, whiteboards, and post-it notes. Some modern goal-setting tools are Basecamp, Goal Buddy, Todoist, StikK, and Goalscape. There are many more online.

  • Learn how to set weekly goals
  • Get a monthly goals template

S-M-A-R-T goals for assessment(Goal-setting strategy)

Goals that will lead you to attain success must be S-M-A-R-T

S-Specific: Your goals should focus on building a particular area of functioning.

M-Measurable: You must have some index for monitoring and measuring your goals as you progress

A-Attainable: Your goals should be tailored to suit you as an individual.

R-Realistic: A well-planned goal may be challenging but will not be impossible to executable. The most unlikely result of setting unrealistic goals is that they will be achieved.

T-Time-bound: A well-planned goal should have a timeline for execution. Modifying your personal action plans to suit your goal timeline is very important.

The thoughts and ideals you have for yourself are so powerful that they affect everything that happens in your life. When you craft a beautiful picture of what you want your future to look like, you begin to channel your energy into making it happen. Irrespective of what the past may be, it is still the past. You can begin now to picture the future you want to have and strategically  set goals and relentlessly pursue them.

  • Choose goals that are easy to perform and achieve.
  • Be determined to achieve goals.
  • Remember your goals

Keep working on your goals consistently and you’ll get there!