How To Set And Achieve Personal Goals—It's Easier Than You Think With This Simple Framework

Have you ever been overwhelmed by all of the ideas floating around in your head about what you want to accomplish in life? You have all kinds of great thoughts but then daily life happens and those ideas get forgotten. You end up staying stuck in your current position wishing you achieved more. This doesn't feel good, and it actually happens to a lot of people. What we all need to learn is how to set personal goals and how to achieve those goals in order to keep moving forward.

When we don't set goals, we tend to lose direction. We need a map for life to keep us on track. This doesn't mean we can't have a detour every now and then—sometimes new ideas or opportunities hit us that require a new map. It's also highly possible that we will have situations that are beyond our control. At these times, we will need to find a way to adjust and adapt. However, if we never start tracking our plan, we run the risk of getting completely lost.

Nobody wants to feel lost. It can be scary and stressful to simply leave our lives up to chance. You will want to take control of your life, where you can, to do what is right for you. Luckily, these guidelines on how to set and achieve personal goals provide all of the necessary steps to keep us focused on our plans.

Related: 10 Free Printable Goal-Setting Worksheets That'll Help You Achieve Anything

How To Set Personal Goals

Setting goals for yourself may seem like the easiest part—you can start by writing down everything that you want to accomplish for yourself. However, you can't stop there! You may have a lot of ideas and a huge list isn't going to be much better than all those ideas in your head. The list needs to be broken down.

Make Sure That Your Personal Goals Are SMART

As you look at your big list of goals, you will first want to cross off any that don't fit the SMART criteria. What is SMART?

  1. S - Specific

  2. M - Meaningful

  3. A - Achievable

  4. R - Realistic

  5. T - Trackable

A specific goal is something very identifiable. If your goal is to be rich someday, that is much too broad and therefore, probably won't be achieved. A better goal would be that you want to find a better-paying job in the next 3 months.

Now, are your goals meaningful? You want to be true to yourself. Make sure your goals align with your interests and motivations. It isn't a good idea to make goals that you think other people would want for you. That would be a hard goal to achieve.

Just how achievable are all of your goals? Do you have the skills, time and desire to do what it takes to accomplish them? Don't put something on your list that would practically take a miracle to accomplish in your timeline. For instance, if you want to lose 50 pounds in 3 weeks, it's probably not going to happen. Instead, make a goal of losing a couple of pounds per week with a healthy diet and exercise.

Realistic goals go hand in hand with achievability. If you have a goal to become a doctor but have no desire for schooling, your goal is unrealistic.

Finally, can you track your goal? Most goals are a process and if you can see small increments of success it will keep you motivated to stick with your goals.

Related: 150 Goals Quotes That Will Help You Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Set Priorities For Your Personal Goals

Now that you've shortened your list a bit, it's time to prioritize what is left. Read through your list and mark the most important goal to you as number one. Continue with all of your goals until you have a prioritized list.

Set Up Personal Goal Timeframes

If you have a nice long-term list of goals, you will want to set up a time that each goal could be accomplished. Remember to be realistic! Start by categorizing your list by things you want to accomplish in a week, a month, a year and even a decade. Don't be shortsighted by immediate needs.

How To Achieve Personal Goals

Once you set all of your goals, you need to work to achieve them. You will be surprised at how easy it is to start working on your plan when you actually have one. Take small steps at a time and before you know it, you have several goals accomplished. It's a big help to see your timeline and it feels good to start seeing some of the easier goals getting accomplished.

Just like reading a map, when you reach one goal you can continue forward through your timeline of goals until you reach your destination.

Related: 25 Long-Term Goals to Make—Plus, Tips on How to Stick to Them

Examples Of Personal Goals

If you are still struggling with what you want to set as your goals, here are some life topics that may help you fill that blank paper you are staring at.

  1. Financial/Career Goals - Think about things that you wish to accumulate and what your budget is. Most people tend to want more than what they have money for. You will first need to determine what you really want or need. The more you want, the more you have to work and the more stress you might have. What is truly most important to you? That will help you determine if you want a goal of a second job, a better paying job, more time off work, less stress or a healthy work/life balance. Remember to be true to yourself and not feel the need to keep up with the Joneses when you are setting any type of financial or work goal.

  2. Relationship Goals - Do you want to strive to have more friends or to be in a romantic relationship? This may spur on a goal to join a club or a church where you have more opportunities to meet people.

  3. Health Goals - Are you living a healthy lifestyle? Think about things that you are doing that may not be so good for your health that could be changed. Some ideas may be to lose weight, quit smoking, quit drinking, start exercising, start meditating or eat healthier foods.

  4. Vacation Goals - Getting away for a break now and then is important and vacation goals are fun. You may want to do more than just take an allotted time off of work. Think about places you would like to visit or things you want to do and set that goal!

  5. Learning Goals - There is always something new to learn and it's a fantastic way to keep the brain fresh. Whether you want to take a class or read up on a topic you enjoy, make sure you take the time for discovery. You may also learn a little bit more about yourself.

Important Tips For Staying Motivated With Your Goals

  • Have an Accountability Partner - Even with a good plan, there will be times when we stray away from it. It helps to tell at least one person what you are trying to accomplish. A good friend or family member can help to remind you of your goal when you begin to lose your focus.

  • Reward Yourself - Sometimes we need a little extra encouragement along the way. Don't hesitate to celebrate the smaller accomplishments. Whenever you are moving in the right direction, it's a good thing!

  • Add In Small Steps - Maybe your original goal seems a little too intimidating. Try breaking down that one goal into even smaller steps that you can slowly accomplish. Accomplishing those small goals will keep you motivated to continue.

Next up, 101 uplifting confidence quotes!