How To Set Goals In A Way That Helps You Accomplish Them

Four keys to setting more effective goals.

The better you are at setting goals, the more likely you are to accomplish them.

Nothing has a bigger influence on the fate of your pursuits than your ability to set a clear, measurable, and meaningful goal at the start of your journey.

Following are four things to consider when you set a goal…

  1. Make Your Goal Measurable

The easiest mistake to make when you set a goal is to create one you can’t measure.

If your goal isn’t measurable, you won’t be able to able to assess your progress along the way or determine your eventual success or failure.

Ironically, this is why so many people set immeasurable goals because if their success can’t be measured, then neither can their failure.

There’s psychological safety in a vague goal, but that’s not what you’re after.

When you set a measurable goal you’re able to gauge your progress which helps you to test, iterate, and optimize your efforts — and that’s what ultimately drives success.

The best way to set a measurable goal is to define every term you use in your goal.

Your goal isn’t just to “lose weight” — it’s to lose 10 pounds.

It’s not just to “get better” at your sales pitch — it’s to increase the percentage of pitches that lead to sales.

It’s not just to “be happier” — it’s to spend 25% more time with your family, take an extra week’s vacation, or shift 10% of the time you spend doing things you don’t enjoy to doing things you do enjoy.

No matter how abstract your goal may seem, you can find ways to tie it to measurable metrics and doing so will make you way more likely to achieve it.

  1. Don’t Confuse A Goal With A Result

Consider these two dictionary definitions:

A goal is “the object of a person’s ambition or effort.”

A result is “a consequence, effect, or outcome of something.”

Simply put, a goal is what you pursue and reaching it produces an outcome, which is the result.

They’re related, but not the same thing.

Goals lead to results.

It’s easy to confuse these concepts and set a result as your goal, but that leads you to chase an outcome instead of pursuing the thing that CREATES the desired outcome.

For example, health, wealth, and strength are not goals — they’re results.

They’re the outcomes and by-products attained goals such as lowering your blood pressure, earning a specific amount of money, or doing a regimen of exercises.

There’s nothing wrong with considering the result you want first and it can actually be helpful to do so, but don’t stop there and set a result as your goal.

Consider what needs to happen to produce the result you want and make THAT your goal.

  1. A Clearly Defined Goal Reveals The Steps It Takes To Accomplish It

Once you choose a measurable goal that will lead to your desired result, you’ll discover something amazing:

Well-defined goals reveal the strategies necessary to accomplish them.

For example, if your goal is just to “make more sales,” it can be paralyzing to think about how to do that because there are so many different paths to that result.

But if your goal is to “increase the conversion rate of your sales pitches by 10%,” the path becomes much more clear.

You can break down the elements of your pitches to identify what needs to be optimized to hit your goal.

Your goal’s clarity encourages you to focus on ways to improve your pitch deck, get bigger decision makers in the room, shift the product you’re pitching, etc.

It shows you the way.

  1. The More Goals You Have, The Less Likely You Are To Achieve Them

Once you get the hang of the three previous tips about how to set goals, you’re going to be tempted to use them to set all sorts of goals for yourself because suddenly a lot more seems possible.

Be careful because that’s a trap.

As with most things in life, the more focused your efforts, the more likely you are to succeed.

(Speaking of which, here are a few ways to simplify your day.)

In this case, the more goals you pursue, the less likely you are to accomplish them because you’ll spread yourself too thin.

Think about this: How much more likely would you be to accomplish a goal if it was the only one you had for a given day, month, or year?

Chances are it would make a HUGE difference and you’d almost be guaranteed to accomplish it.

While it may not be realistic to limit yourself to a single goal (though in some cases and for some time frames it actually is possible), aim to limit your goals to as few as possible at any given time.

It’s fine to have a lot of goals, but prioritize them and focus on as few as possible to give yourself the highest likelihood of success.

To learn more about how to set effective goals and improve your work, art, or life, check out my For The Interested newsletter.