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Top 10 Tips for Goal Setting

goal setting

The New Year is here, which means a few things: a full email inbox after a holiday break, trying to figure out if the button still works on our jeans after a month of sweet treats, and the opportunity to “start anew” in 2019 and get started on a goal you’ve been thinking of initiating for months!  However, did you know that 25% of New Year resolutions are abandoned in less than one week, and the average person sets the same goal up to 10 times with no success?  We’ve written articles about the importance of goal setting and action planning before, but – in honor of the New Year – we’ve compiled our top ten tips for tackling your toughest resolutions!


  1. Set the Bar High: A recent study published in Harvard Business Review revealed an interesting finding: we’re actually more likely to accomplish goals that are more challenging, as compared to “status quo” goals.  The reason?  Psychologically, people perceive higher goals as easier to attain.  Plus, even when that’s not the case, we find challenging goals more rewarding, and – thus – more enticing.
  2. Write It Down: By putting pencil to paper, we clarify what we want and make a “wish” more of a tangible plan. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, found that an individual is 42% more likely to achieve a goal solely by writing it down.
  3. Make it SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  4. Keep Making Fresh Starts: The reason so many new goals, diet plans, and exercise routines are started at the beginning of January is because of the invisible yet perceived “clean slate” that comes with a new calendar. However, if you engage in a few cheat meals, let your inbox notifications continue to rise, or in any other way fall off the metaphorical wagon, that’s okay!  Find a new reason for a “fresh start”: perhaps a birthday, the first of a new month, or even any given Monday!
  5. Visualize the Desired Outcome AND the Current Situation: Harvard Business Review also reports on research that has found that seeing the gap between a current state and a future state is most important when it comes to motivation: In one study, individuals who wanted to quit smoking were instructed to write about either their desired personal future, the negative aspects of their current realities, or both. The contrast between the two was found most effective in bringing their actions in line with their expectations.
  6. Incorporate Action Steps: The advice we recommend for “Action Planning after 360 Feedback” applies to any goals set in life: Goals focus on WHAT will be accomplished, while action steps focus on the HOW. No destination can be reached without a roadmap to get there, and these steps will provide the route to reach an end goal.
  7. Add Dates: It’s easy to let our goals – and accompanying action steps – fall to the back burner when the obligations of everyday life begin to take over. However, adding in deadlines to a calendar, the same way that you would for work meetings or lunch dates, makes them nearly impossible to forget!
  8. Find a Buddy: Whether you find someone who shares your same goal, or if they’re simply a listening ear to add a layer of accountability and positive reinforcement, incorporating others makes us much likelier to succeed. Case in point: In one weight loss study, people who posted progress photos to social media were found to lose 5x as much weight as those that only kept to themselves!
  9. Track Progress: While advancing towards your goal, it’s easy to forget where you started. In order to stay encouraged, track progress over time and reward the little accomplishments along the way!
  10. Enjoy the Journey: The path to accomplishing a goal may involve twists, turns, hills, bumps, and potholes. However, the best rewards are worth these journeys.  After all, if achieving set goals was easy, everyone would do it!