Sticking to goals: Five steps to success

Life in general

Setting yourself goals is easy – if only accomplishing them was the same story. There’s no end to the different methods of guaranteeing success, but how do you set yourself achievable goals? Although there’s no shortcuts to success – aside from hard work and determination – there are ways to put yourself on the right track. If you’re looking to make a change and set yourself some targets, here’s five simple steps you can take to help you reach your end goal.

1. Set yourself SMART goals

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. It’s a well-adopted method of setting targets in order to increase the likelihood of achievement.


By making them specific, you’ve got a clear indication of what you need to do to accomplish your goals. It’s easy to fall of the wagon if you’re not exactly sure what you’re aiming for. Ask yourself what it is you exactly want to achieve, including alternate ways you could achieve the goal and potential barriers to your success. The more detail you can add, the more honed in on your targets you’ll be. If you’re setting yourself a goal of earning £1million, simply stating ‘earn £1million’ won’t cut it. Make the goal specific so you’re absolutely clear: ‘earn £1,924 per week every year for the next 10 years by developing my retail business’. That’s specific!


This is easy for goals where measurable variables are naturally incorporated, such as academic test scores or weight lost. For more abstract goals, such as being healthier, you can measure the amount of nutrients in your diet and minutes of exercise done per week. By creating a measureable goal, you’re completely aware of what will happen when you achieve it. If you’re aiming to get a promotion at work, the measurable aspects of this would be completing any extra training you require, taking on more responsibility and increasing your work output. You can measure these factors which should be the reasons for your promotion.

Setting goals: Make them SMART


Do you have the time or skills to achieve your goal? These are just two of the many factors which come into deciding whether your goal is achievable for you. Many people dream of being professional sports personality or actor, but it’s impossible to set yourself these goals if you don’t have the ability or time to train. Making sure your goals are attainable prevents setbacks from failure, and manages expectations. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t shoot for the stars if you plan smartly. This also comes down to the ‘measureable’ aspect of your SMART goals – can you afford to fall a little short? If you’re aiming to double your work output, but reach 1.9x, is it really that bad? Thinking in this way gives your area of attainability room to stretch.


You need to ensure the goals you’re setting are relevant to what you want to achieve. Do you really want to run your own business? Or be famous? Many people often embark on a journey to complete their goals, only to find, at the end, that it isn’t what they really wanted. Sometimes it’s difficult to gauge, but it’s worth revisiting goals every now and then to see if they align with how you feel. If you’re looking to become a famous actor, you can take classes, gain experience through small scale work and practice learning lines every day. But, if you don’t have the personality to deal with fame, then it might not be the best option for you. Consider all aspects and decide whether it’s completely relevant to what you want. But don’t doubt yourself – if you’re sure it’s what you want, then go for it!


Setting time limits is a universal way to encourage action. How many times have you been influenced by a flash sale from your favourite brand, or worked harder due to a deadline? This is exactly why you should set a target date for completing your goals. It helps to give you focus on what you need to achieve and when. This helps to prevent long-term achievements taking a backseat to your day-to-day tasks. It’s easy to skip the gym if you’ve got endless time to lose weight, but if you’ve got one week to lose the last couple of kilos, you’ll soon find yourself in the gym! Set achievable timelines and try to stick to them as much as possible – constantly extending them is just as bad as leaving them open-ended.

Setting goals: Make them SMART

2. Break each goal into ‘mini-goals’

Take this as an example: you’ve planned a home renovation and you know you need to save £2,000 to cover the costs. It would be easy to simply set yourself a goal to ‘save £2,000’. However, if you’ve got a clear idea of what exactly you’re saving for, you can use your ‘mini goals’ to make a more detailed outline of what you need to do. Try writing down ‘save £200 for painting, £800 for new kitchen units, £500 for hardwood flooring, £300 for a new sofa and £200 in case of overspending’. Immediately, you’ve got your first target of saving £200 for painting supplies. Once you’ve saved this amount, move onto the money for the kitchen units, and so on. Smaller targets are less daunting, and is applicable to most goals you’re likely to set yourself. If you’d like to lose 2st, start with the first 5lbs and build from there. If you’re looking to read one new book every month, work out how many pages you need to read per day to finish the book each month. Psychologically, this trick works wonders for big targets and helps no end with the first step – actually getting started.

3. Write your goals down for constant reminders

Write down your goals to serve as constant reminder for what you’re working towards. This can be on a small piece of paper, or big, bold and in plain sight. They’re extra motivation for you to see, in black and white, everything you need to achieve within the given timeframe. Written goals are great when you need to observe the bigger picture and understand what your aims are, especially when certain stages become difficult. You’re ensuring they stay at the front of your thoughts. Many studies have shown the positive effects of writing down your goals, and it’s a technique not to be disregarded if you want to truly achieve.

Write down your goals

4. Make progress your priority

It’s easy to become deflated or unmotivated when you’re struggling to reach your end goal. Although this may be down to a number of factors, sometimes out of your control, you need to keep focused on moving forwards and not get caught up in little losses. If there are factors getting in your way, do everything you can to get past them. Focusing on growth is the plan here, and you should celebrate any and all progress, no matter how small. Be proud of how far you’ve come and use this to build from goal to goal.

5. Hold Yourself Accountable

The ultimate achievement of your targets is down to you. If you don’t make achieving your goals a priority, they’ll soon fall by the wayside and you’ll find yourself moving backwards. It’s a popular scapegoat, blaming external factors for not getting to where you’d like to be. If you understand that you’re the only person who can make things happen, you’ll be no stranger to hard work. This is all much easier if you set SMART targets and know exactly what you need to do – and why you’re doing it. Work hard and believe in your ability; the rest will follow.

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