Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

Goals are the efforts of people who are interested in improving their own life and/or themselves. In practice, unfortunately, only 12 per cent of all good intentions are realised because they are often inappropriate, too ambitious or poorly formulated. To help you to really achieve your goals this ultimate guide to goal setting will show you how to do it right.

What about YOU?

  • Do you have goals?
  • Do you stick to your goals?
  • Have you been able to put many checkmarks on your personal list of goals?
  • Or have you lost sight of them or discarded them?

If you answer just one of these questions with NO, then you have come to the right place!

In this article I will show you:

The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

Why are goals that important?

Goals provide orientation as well as encourage and motivate us to move on. They help us to use our energy in a focused way. The goal is to consciously decide which topics to tackle and to consider whether they are also profitable. 

In addition, personal goals ensure growth and at the same time, increase the joy of life.

Either you grow, or you degenerate; standstill is unlikely. Ambitious personal goals are a guarantee for growth because those who pursue such goals are forced to acquire knowledge and skills that are necessary to achieve them. On the other hand, those who do not pursue their own goals prefer to do mainly pleasant and fewer demanding activities in their free time. Growth? No chance!

There are two different types of goals: Goals that revolve around our condition and goals that revolve around our possessions. In this context, it is important to keep in mind: Those who strive for personal growth or fulfilling interpersonal relationships will be happier, while those who strive for money and fame will be unhappier.

How to find a personal goal?

Since there are several areas of life, we can (and should) have several final goals at the same time. Of course, our final goals should support instead of hindering each other.

The areas of life you should consider are the following:

    • Mindset
    • Family
    • Body
    • Wellbeing
    • Education
    • Career
    • Finances

Often our final goals are already present somewhere within us. In order to work on them, however, we must be aware of these goals. To do so, you can proceed as follows:

    1. Choose an area of your life.
    2. Make yourself comfortable, close your eyes and try to visualise in as much detail as possible where you see yourself in a distant, unspecified future.
    3. Write down as many details of your wishful thinking as possible.
    4. Repeat the visualisation with the other areas of life.

How to set goals correctly?

When you have your rough goals, your negative goals must be sorted out, and your positive ones have to be clearly formulated.

To sort out the negative goals, you can ask yourself the following questions:

    • Why do I want to achieve this goal?
    • Is it my own goal? 
    • Is the goal realistic?
    • Does the goal harmonise with my values?

Positive goals must be formulated.

The final big goal should be formulated vaguely, especially with regard to the time of achieving the goal. The overall dream goal should always be unrealistic. Do not underestimate the power & magic of very, very big goals.

Big, unrealistic goals have two advantages:

    1. They force you to evolve.
    2. Obstacles on the way to reach your goal appear smaller.

A motivating final goal cannot be achieved directly. It must, therefore, be broken down into sub-goals, and further into concrete to-dos.

In contrast to the big goal, partial goals and concrete to-dos, are different: what matters here is clarity. Therefore, it is crucial how you set your goals. One way to formulate sub-goals and concrete to-dos is the so-called SMART method.


The SMART-Formula

The SMART formula is a tool for formulating clear goals. SMART in this context stand for:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Realistic

T – Time-bound

In concrete terms, this means the following:

    1. You need a goal that’s specifically set.
    2. Your goal must always be measurable.
    3. The goal must be motivative so that you really want to achieve it.
    4. It is important that the goal is realistic because if it is set too high, you will give up faster.
    5. The goal must be timed, i.e. there must be a measuring point for the goal.

How to use the SMART method in concrete terms can be found in the article: The Importance of Goals and How to Set them Properly

How to make sure that you really achieve your goals?

Now that you’ve set your goals, you need a plan to put them into action.

Here are 7 steps you can take to move in the right direction:

  1. Visualization & Affirmation
  2. Setting Milestones
  3. Stay Focused
  4. Commit & Schedule
  5. Review & Fix
  6. Complete & Achieve by Creating Systems & Habits
  7. Reward Yourself

Visualisation & Affirmation | Write it Down

Imagining a big dream goal creates emotions. That’s good. Because to imagine what it’s going to be like when you have reached your goal has a significant impact on your subconscious, and that’s extremely powerful. Our subconscious mind is our secret target navigation system, which affects us much more than we think. Thinking and feeling that you have already reached your goal helps to program it subconsciously. 

Therefore, put your goals on paper so you can describe precisely what your future should look like. Having your goals written down on a piece of paper helps clarify and strengthen your intentions. By combining this tangible aspect with the well-formed thoughts in your head, your goals become all the more powerful. 

Tip #1: 

Visualise your goals by creating a Vision Board. That makes your goals, visions and dreams even more tangible, and you are more motivated to achieve them. If you don’t know how to create a vision board, you can read the article below, where I explain how you can do it.

Tip #2: 

Post your written goals or your vision board wherever you can see it frequently. If you have a constant reminder of what you’re aiming for, will help you to stay motivated, makes it easier to keep your focus and prevent you from distractions. 

Tip #3: 

Read biographies of people that inspire you. The following books are great examples of the power of visualisation in combination with hard work. One rarely works without the other. (See the descriptions below this Article).

Milestones | Break it Down

You need success experiences; otherwise, you won’t be motivated to continue. It’s incredibly satisfying to tick things up. That strengthens your self-confidence and gives you the strength to stay on it. 

The key to getting success experiences and achieving great goals is to organise your goals into groups your mind can handle and break every big goal down into smaller tasks. Divide them into easy, simple, and manageable pieces that when done consistently, will help you to achieve your big goal at a time.

And this is how you do it:

You can break down your goals by the following:

Categories and Importance

  1. Organise your captured goals into life categories
  2. Prioritise your goals in order of importance
  3. Turn each goal into actionable steps

With these methods, you take a step every day. One step becomes 10, 10 becomes 100, and suddenly a larger whole emerges.

My Tip for staying on track: Start running a success diary. That helps to counteract your tendency to remember negative rather than positive events.

Here is a journal I really like, that will help you to implement your success diary and to keep on track while achieving your goals.

*Affiliate Links

Gratitude & Mindfulness Journal, Daily Companion and Success Diary - All in one!

Stay Focused

Focus on your goal. Everything else doesn’t matter. Anything that doesn’t pay into your goal will not be done. That’s it. 

But keep in mind: That sounds easier than it actually is.

Commit & Schedule

Bring planning and structure into your life by converting actionable steps into daily action items and commit to a completion date for each one.

This is how you do it:
  1. Write all your milestones as separate tasks in a plan. Order them according to priorities and within a chronological order.
  2. Choose a pre-selection of the essential tasks using the Pareto principle. This principle is based on the fact that only a small percentage of the daily tasks are truly relevant for achieving the main goals. 80% of the goals can be achieved, with only 20% of the effort. A large part of the energy is often spent on the last 20%, which are not that important.
  3. Assign time slots for your to do’s in which you will work on them. That way, you stay focused and are less distracted.
  4. Complete the most important task first. Do not postpone it; put it into action immediately.
  5. Work each day on the tasks you have set. Scratch completed items visible from the list – this increases motivation!

Tip #1: 

Get yourself a Productivity Planner. That will help you to schedule your tasks and commit to them. The Productivity Planner from the Intelligent Change combines everything you need.

It takes advantage of the combination of the Pomodoro Technique and the “Most Important First” method (the Ivy Lee method), empowering you to focus your mental energy on the most meaningful tasks ahead. That way, you can take advantage of every moment of every day, get the most out of it and achieve your goals. Based on these time tracking methods, this Productivity Planner is designed to get you to accomplish greater results in lesser amounts of time. Get your planner here.

*Affiliate Links


Tip #2: 

Another option is to grab the biggest calendar you can find and place it where you see it. Schedule your action items in the appropriate order into your calendar and do whatever it takes to stay on schedule. That helps because you can see exactly when an intermediate goal should be reached and thus gives you a better overview.

Review & Fix

Take time to reflect!
Reflect on why you are right where you are. Asking yourself the following questions:

    • Why aren’t you where you wanted to be yet?
    • Why again didn’t you reach your weekly target?
    • Why did you have to spend your time doing other things again?
    • Why is that so?
    • How can I change this?
    • What did I learn?
    • What went well?
    • What are you doing more with it?

These questions will help you to react quickly when losing your focus.

Keep in mind:

When reviewing your past performances, fixing your mistakes and possibly changing your direction, always think about the following advises:

    • Always try hard
    • Keep practising
    • Explore different ways
    • Ask someone for advice
    • Give your best
    • Learn how others did it
    • Never give up!

Complete & Achieve by Creating Systems & Habits

If you want to complete and reach your goals, it is important to have the self-discipline to remain focused and disciplined. Therefore, you need to implement systems and habits that work for you, instead of against you. There are two ways to hold yourself accountable:

Creating Systems

Possible methods of creating accountable systems are the following:

  • Share your goals and your process with others.
  • Find an accountability partner: Share your goals with someone and talk about the progress of your goals. Make weekly appointments. That creates commitment and is more fun.
  • Determine consequences in case you don’t stick to your goal. 
  • Post your goals and your progress on social media that people keep asking you about.
  • Hire a coach who will help to guide and support you throughout your process.

Creating Habits

Self-discipline has a lot to do with habits! They determine how we organise our day. So, if you want to achieve your goals, you can ask yourself the question: “Where do I inhibit myself by the habits of my everyday life?” That way, you will find out which habits you have to change and which ones you have to acquire in order to achieve your goals.

My Tip: The book “The Power of Habits” by Charles Duhigg. It explains exactly what is behind habits and how you manage to learn new habits or discard old ones.

Reward Yourself

Celebrate your wins that you have more energy to go for more. Therefore, establish a reward system, because so you get aware that you did an excellent job and that you achieved something. In addition, you will be motivated to accomplish more since you know you’ll be getting a reward afterwards. 


Conclusion of my ultimate guide to goal setting:

Those who have set up a good plan to achieve their goals have already completed the most difficult. Everything that needs to be done to reach the goal is now on the list. However, things that will smash even the best plan will soon happen. Nevertheless, it was good to have planned, because those who planned have thought, and these thoughts are what really matters. The plan has to be updated regularly, but you should maintain your final goal and only adjust the path to it.

Here are my final tips to reach your goal:

    • Take the first step today, because otherwise there is a danger that you will never become active.
    • Make sure your expectations are realistic.
    • Avoid perfectionism.
    • Consider setbacks as a learning experience; the more mistakes you make, the more you learn.
    • Practice gratitude for what you have already achieved!

Share in the comments below:

Did this ultimate guide to goal setting helped you? What’s your biggest takeaway from this article? How do you make sure you set and accomplish your goals?

My book tips for you:

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Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

In this instant and tenacious New York Times bestseller, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight “offers a rare and revealing look at the notoriously media-shy man behind the swoosh” (Booklist, starred review), illuminating his company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

In the New York Times bestseller that the Washington Post called “Lean In for misfits,” Sophia Amoruso shares how she went from dumpster diving to founding one of the fastest-growing retailers in the world.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson 

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs – as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues – Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries.

Losing My Virginity:How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson  

The unusual, frequently outrageous autobiography of one of the great business geniuses of our time, Richard Branson.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

South African born Elon Musk is the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity. Musk wants to save our planet; he wants to send citizens into space, to form a colony on Mars; he wants to make money while doing these things; and he wants us all to know about it.

For more personal growth tips, visit my Pinterest board: Personal Growth.

If you have Pinterest, you are welcome to visit my site or pin one of these pictures to find the post faster! 🙂

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