7 Steps to Personal Goal Setting

A life without goals is similar to setting out on a journey without any real destination or purpose. Sounds stressful right?

Setting goals gives you both long-term vision and short term motivation which makes each new day intentional and directional.

A big focus in my signature health coaching program is setting and working towards personal goals with my clients. Whether these goals are health-related, wellness-related, or big lifetime goals, these goals provide a sense of purpose, direction, and focus in life.  At the beginning of the program we will work together to set attainable and aspirational goals, and then consistently review and reevaluate them throughout the following 4-months of the program.

Do you struggle to pinpoint goals in your personal life? Did you set goals at the beginning of the year and then allowed them to fall off the face of the earth? Well the time has come to set yourself some new goals and get after them!

Photo by Dalton Johnson Media
This is my 7-step process to setting and achieving personal goals:
  • 1) Decide
  • 2) Write them out
  • 3) Tell someone
  • 4) Break them down into steps
  • 5) First step plan
  • 6) Persevere
  • 7) Celebrate

Simple right? Now Let me break it down a bit further for you:

1) Decide

side view photo of woman sitting on ground overlooking a hill
1st Step to Setting Personal Goals: Decide.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word GOAL? 

This could be anything that interests or excites you?  Brainstorm, Visualize, and Dream Big!

The main categories we focus on throughout my program are health and wellness-related, but there are a variety of other categories that are important to set goals in as well including: career, family, creativity, fun, public service, mindset, financial, educational, social, habitual, purposeful, behavioral and lifetime.

Make sure you are setting SMART goals in order to have real, measurable results:

  • Specific: What action or feat will be accomplished?
  • Measurable: What data will measure your goal? Think “how long, how much, how well, etc.”
  • Attainable: Is this goal possible or doable? Do you or will you have the necessary resources or skills to accomplish this goal?
  • Relevant: Does this goal align with your purpose or broader goals in life? Why is this goal important to you?
  • Time-bound: When do you want to achieve this goal by? How many days, weeks, months or years will it take? What date do you want to accomplish this goal?

My Take:

I currently have the goal to run 3 miles in 30 minutes by August 20th. This goal is very specific, measurable (length and time of goal), attainable (my mile time currently is around 11:30), relevant (I have a general goal to make running a more integral part of my life), and time-bound (my goal to achieve this by is August 20th).

2) Write them out:

woman writing on a notebook beside teacup and tablet computer
2nd Step: Write your goals down.

When we write down our goals, it strengthens our motivation to achieve them.

Write down HOW you will know when you’ve reached your goals (measurable) and when you want to reach them by (time-based).

What will it look and feel like when you reach them? Repeat these goals back to yourself when you’re done writing them out and really FEEL what it would be like to achieve them! 

Where to write your goals:

  • Journal about it.
  • Write them in your agenda or calendar.
  • Post them in a location that you will see them frequently such as the wall behind your desk or on your bathroom mirror.

My Take:

I often forget about my goals if they aren’t directly in front of my face as a constant reminder. I’ve recently started posting them up on my clothing cabinet which I see every morning and night while lying in bed.

3) Tell someone

two women sitting on ground near bonfire
3rd Step to Personal Goal Setting: Tell someone.

By verbalizing your goals out loud, you now have someone to motivate you and hold you accountable to the goals you have set for yourself.  Who is someone you could call up today to share your goals with? Grab a coffee or drink with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile and start opening up. Make a list of the people you want to share your goals with and then ask them what goals they may have! 

Why you should share your goals with someone:

  • Talking your goals out loud brings more clarity to the goal and may fine tune or redefine them.
  • Telling someone provides an extra sense of accountability to achieve that goal.
  • This person may be able to offer up some much needed advice or insight to your goal.

My Take:

I have two methods to this. I try to share my goals consistently with my partner-in-crime and he does the same. I also find that social media is a good place to hold myself accountable. I run my health coaching business through instagram and like to share my progress of attaining goals to both motivate myself and others.

4) Break them down into steps

photography of bridge
4th Step: Break your goals down into smaller steps.

Think of smaller goals as stepping stones to achieving your bigger goal. This is especially important when wanting to achieve those BIG, dream goals. Achieving these smaller goals gives a sense of success along the way. If you are aiming to make a certain amount of income this year, break down that number to the less intimidating, month-by-month standard. Then break that number down to weekly and so on. What are some baby steps you could take today to reach your goal next month?  

Tips to break goals down:

  • Work backwards. Say you have the goal to run a marathon by the end of this year. What fitness goals should you achieve by month 11 in order to obtain your overall marathon goal. What fitness goals can you achieve by month 2 that will strengthen your ability or skills to run a marathon in 12 months?
  • Break your goals down to a month-to-month, week-to-week, and day-by-day basis.
  • Place deadline dates on your smaller goals.

My Take:

Goal: Run 3 miles in 30 minutes by August 20th.

Steps:

1. Run 3 times a week.

2. Week One: Run as far and as long as I can without stopping.

3. Week Two: Run 2-3 miles with an average pace of 11 minutes per mile.

4: Week Three: Run 2-3 miles with the goal of an average time of 10:30 per mile.

5: Week Four: Run 3 miles with an average pace of 10 minutes per mile.

6: Celebrate

5) First step plan

brown sand with heart shaped
5th Step: Time to take that first step.

An ancient chinese proverb says: “the journey of 1000 miles starts with 1 step.” This first step is what is going to get you started to reaching your dream goals. After the first step you’ll figure out the next step and so on! You want to run 2 miles without stopping by next month? The first step is to lace up your running shoes and literally take that 1st step. 

Tips to taking the first step

  • Start very small. Think about what is the most simple first step you can take that will lead you to your goal?
  • After achieving your first step, what is the next “first” step you can take and so on.

My Take:

Step One: Lace up my running shoes.

Next step: Find a motivating playlist to run to.

Next step: Walk out the door.

And so on…the goal is to make easy step that follows super easy and attainable in order to achieve the next step.

6) Persevere

two man hiking on snow mountain
6th Step: Persevere and keep going.

Persevere even when the going gets tough. Often times when we are working towards something big, obstacles tend to arise. These obstacles will either make us stronger or tear us down. If you find yourself feeling stuck, try to think of anything you could do to move yourself forward, even if it’s just a tiny bit.

Tips to persevere:

  • Pause and take a deep breathe to try and clear your mind.
  • Ask others for their opinion or advice.
  • Reevaluate and re-adjust your goal if needed.

My Take:

“I really don’t feel like running today. Maybe I’ll go for a walk and run a few minutes just to see how I feel.” Often times those few minutes leads to one more minute, and another, and another. When the going gets tough, look back to Step Five and brainstorm what the next first step is that you can take.

7) Celebrate

Friends celebrating achieving their goals
7th Step to Personal Goal Setting: Celebrate your accomplishments.

You deserve it! When you reach your goal, take time to enjoy it and thank those who helped you along the way. Heck, why not plan out how you’ll celebrate before you even reach your goals! This may motivate you to want to reach them even quicker! Think about what you enjoyed and learned along the way. Now what is your next goal?

Tips to celebrate:

  • Curate these celebrations to the size of your goal. You have a goal to get a raise at work or gain new clients. Celebrate with a trip somewhere you’ve been wanting to visit.
  • Reward yourself along the journey with small gifts, acts of self-care, or a cheers with a friend.

My take:

I recently ran a half marathon with a few friends during a bachelorette party. This was a personal goal of mine set for a later date but the opportunity arose sooner and I took it. Because I didn’t have much training in the works for this run, I owe my success to a number of things including the people I was with, the sense of accomplishment I’d feel after, and the rewards following the race. For me, the rewards along the way and at the end of the race were the real motivator. Before the race, we bought a big bag of gummy bears which were our reward at the end of each completed mile…this gave me life and the energy to keep going. Though the gummy bears were a huge plus, the real motivation was the wine festival at the end of the race. The kicker was a funny sign I saw during the race that said, “Run now, Wine later.” This was exactly the sign I needed to achieve my goal!

There you have it! 7 simple steps you can take for personal goal setting.

When we set goals and stick with them, we are taking the reins of our lives and creating a more purposeful lifestyle. Goal setting allows us to clearly visualize what we want our future to look and feel like, and create a strategy on how to reach our ideal future.

I know you have big goals and big dreams, we all do! The question is, are you willing to put in the work to achieve them? It’s time to turn that daydream, that vision, that big goal into reality!

Inspired by this article and have a few goals in mind?

Grab my 7 Steps to Personal Goal Setting PDF Here

2 responses to “7 Steps to Personal Goal Setting”

  1. Great breakdown on steps for setting goals. The persevere step is massive – nothing ever goes exactly according to plan, so re-evaluating, re-aligning, reflecting back on how far you’ve come are all key parts to this, and if the goal has to change… change it and go again.

    • Agreed! It’s very easy to quit after hitting a roadblock or feeling like you’re stuck in the muck with no hope of moving forward. The re-evaluation of goals is key 👌🏼

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