How to Articulate Your Goals and Achieve Them

By Yvonne LeJanuary 20, 2014

Every year on my birthday, I like to compare who I was over the course of the last year to who I am today. I reflect on my goals—those I achieved and those that may have fallen short of realization. I visualize what’s important to me now and what is important for my future. Who do I want to be in 5, 10, 20 years? I use this time of reflection to set new goals for the year ahead and develop a plan to achieve them.

Setting goals is hugely important; the act of doing so will keep you focused, motivated, organized and will shape your decision-making. Having a process serves as a guide to achieving your goals. You will gain confidence through the practice of goal-setting and heightened awareness of your ability to reach (or not reach) your stated goals. Perhaps you will even discover that reaching your goals is easier than you thought.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” The following eleven steps can help you plan your goals to guide them to reality.

1. Make time.

Set aside some time to focus on you with no interruptions. Make this a priority and follow through. Turn your cell phone off, clear your calendar and commit to giving goal-setting your undivided attention.

2. Create the right ambiance.

Set the tone of your environment to suit your mood. Whether by lighting a candle to create a peaceful atmosphere or by creating background noise to cover up outside distractions, the right vibe can help to open your mind.

3. Choose your technique.

Decide how you want to set your goals. You could make a list in a notebook or in a digital medium (whether a document or using an online tool like Evernote, Asana or Wunderlist), write a letter to your future self or create a mood board or collage of pictures and cutouts to describe your goals. Choose a technique that feels most comfortable and run with it.

4. First, brainstorm without judgment.

Don’t go straight to the computer. Instead, grab a pen and paper and start writing down any and all ideas. Let all your thoughts loose even if they don’t seem to make sense. Try not to analyze during this brainstorm session and avoid the temptation to judge the content.

5. Take a break.

Preferably, this means a full night’s rest. Come back to your ideas and edit them when your mind is fresh. This will allow you to make your ideas more cohesive after your free-writing session.

6. Clearly state your goals.

Make each goal specific and realistic. State what you are going to do, how you are going to do it and a date by when you are going to achieve it. The SMART mnemonic is a great helpful resource. Make your goal:

S – Specific.
M – Measurable.
A – Achievable.
R – Results-focused.
T – Time-bound.

7. Commit.

Now that you have articulated your goals, post them somewhere you will see often, like your nightstand, bathroom mirror or your computer so that you can be reminded of your commitments. Be true to yourself and true to your goals—stay the course!

8. Make yourself accountable.

Once you commit, take motivation from the initiative that you started with and hold yourself accountable to your goals. By doing this, you will become more focused and aware. Mistakes and obstacles are inevitable, but how you react to adversity will have the greatest effect on whether or not your goals are achieved.

9. Surround yourself with the best.

Surround yourself with friends and colleagues that share similar interests. You’ll develop a positive, supportive community that aligns with your own goals and ideals.

10. Out with the old, in with the new.

Take time to break bad habits and ‘de-clutter’ your life. Don’t be afraid of change, because change can propel you toward achieving your goals!

11. Be Positive and Reward Yourself.

Nothing worth having comes easily, so remember to rejoice in the little victories along the way that bring you closer to your ultimate goals.

No goal is too lofty for the motivated. Plan it, commit to it, execute it and achieve it!
It’s all about starting now and training yourself for success. Don’t wait for opportunity to seek you out. By stretching yourself to a place beyond your imagining you can discover your potential.