How to Set Goals that you WILL Achieve

It’s January, which means people around the world are trying to get themselves organized and making some goals.  Woohoo!  If that’s you, let me ask you a question - how are you at finishing those goals?  If you’re like most people, I’m betting the answer isn’t positive.  But, no need to throw in the towel, I’m here to help you learn how to set goals you WILL achieve!

Last week, I mentioned that I will be doing a focus on organization this month, which is one reason I wanted to talk about setting goals.  How does that relate to getting organized, you ask?  Well…

You can’t achieve your goals unless you get your goals organized!

When I wrote up today’s post, it ended up being really long, so in the interest of your sanity, I’m breaking this up into two posts!  

Today, we’ll talk about different types of goals (generally speaking) and why people tend to fail at finishing them. 

Sound good?

A little background

You guys know me as a blogger…but, by day, I’m a Product Manager for a financial software company.  I manage a team of folks and it’s our responsibility to create the application interface that will be used by investment professionals.  

While, my direct team doesn’t get our hands dirty with actually coding of anything (that’s for our talented engineers to handle!), it’s our responsibility to come up with the ideas, work with the database teams to integrate the necessary data into the application and set goals.  We set lots of goals!  

Not only do we set those goals, we have to work with all of the various teams to make sure those goals are accomplished.  If we don’t achieve our goals, we’re not doing our job.  You could say we’re very goal oriented.

So…outside of work, that mindset is still there, so no matter what I’m doing, I’m generally setting goals along the way!

This time of year, everyone is making resolutions for the new year and as we all know….most people will give up on most, if not all of their resolutions.  I looked up the stats and only roughly 10% of people follow through on their goals.  If you think of that another way…

~90% of people do NOT achieve their resolutions!

Are you one of those folks?  I know I am definitely guilty of setting up resolutions that I haven’t kept in the past.  

This is why I stopped calling them resolutions and switched to the word GOALS!  

That one switch will be a step in the right direction for getting your mind on the right path for success!

Since I have lots of experience with goal setting, I thought it would be helpful to share some of my tips for how to set goals that you WILL achieve!

Types of Goals

Before we go any further, let me break it down into two categories and I’m going to keep this simple.  There are BIG goals and there are SMALL goals.  

Big Goals

Big goals are the long term goals that will require a significant amount of work and time.  These won’t be achieved overnight and will require planning.  These might take 6 months, 1 year, or multiple years to achieve!  Since these goals take work and planning, they are also the goals that usually never get finished by most folks.  

For example, I have a goal of organizing and cleaning out my entire house.  I can promise you this will not happen overnight and will probably take most of this year if I do it right and stick with it (and side note, no, my house isn’t a total garbage dump and I’m not a hoarder, I just have a lot of crap I need to get rid of and some overall organizing that I’d like to do!)

Small Goals

Small goals are shorter term goals that won’t generally require a lot of work or time and can usually be accomplished with one go.  They may stand on their own and have nothing to do with any larger goals, or they may be a stepping stone for a BIG goal.  

For example, cleaning out a closet would be something I could do in one go, but would ultimately be a smaller goal towards achieving my big goal of cleaning out my entire house.

Should I have Both?


You should have both BIG and SMALL goals in your life!

Whether you realize it or not, you do have big and small goals.  If you’ve ever tried to lose weight…that’s a big goal.  Same for saving money for a down payment on a car or a new house…those take time and planning to achieve!  Likewise, small goals would be taking your lunch to save money (to put towards the down payment fund) or to ensure you’re eating healthier (to work towards losing weight).  

Do you need to write down every goal you have and map out ways to achieve it?  Not necessarily, but I would highly recommend it for all BIG goals and that's what we'll talk about more tomorrow!

Why People Fail

I’m sure there are many reasons why people don’t follow through on their goals, but these are the three big ones in my opinion…

Unrealistic goals

There are a lot of things that I’d love to do with my life, but some are just not realistic.  And guess what guys…you usually KNOW you can’t complete that task, right?  So, why do we put that on our lists and set ourselves up to fail?!  Simply put…by saying it's our goal (or resolution), we feel like it might motivate us to finally make it happen.  While I think that is true to an extent, there are just some things that you will never, ever accomplish and that is okay!

Failure to think through and plan

Even if this is something they know they can do and may really want to do, most folks that don’t follow through on their goals do so because they fail to plan for it.

No follow through or motivation

Finally, let’s say someone identifies a goal they think they really want to do and they know they can do it.  Let's also say they even go the extra step and make the adequate plans.  Sometimes, people still fail to finish their goals because they don’t follow through with their plan or they lack the motivation to put in the time.

Your turn friends…what are the main reasons you fail to follow through on your goals?  Do you fall into the categories above, or do you have other obstacles that prevent you from achieving your objectives?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a comment and let me know!