top of page
On the Top

Download the goal planning worksheet here




Goal Planning - The Blueprint for Accomplishing More in Life

When I'm invited to speak publicly, I often ask how many people believe in the power of written goals. Every hand shoots up. Yet when I ask how many of them have written goals for this year, very few hands go up.


This always surprises me, given the fact most people know intuitively (and research has proved) that those who write their goals down accomplish significantly more than those who do not write their goals.

Some of this, I suppose, is just that most people don't take the time to clearly define their goals. But from my years spent as sales manager and now as an author, mentor / coach, and occasional consultant, I know that most people have just never been taught how to write effective goals.


With that in mind, I want to offer a basic goal-setting primer and help you get more clarity in reaching your goals. You can find plenty of advice online, but these are the five principles I follow in my own life:


   1. Keep them few in number. Productivity studies show that you really can’t focus on more than 5 – 7 items at any one time. And don’t try to cheat by including sections with several goals under each section. This is a recipe for losing focus and accomplishing very little. Instead, focus on a handful of goals that you can repeat almost from memory. 


   2. Make them “smart.” This is an acronym, as you probably know, and it is interpreted in various ways by            different teachers. When I refer to smart goals, I mean this. Goals must meet five criteria. They must be:



  • Specific — your goals must identify exactly what you want to accomplish in as much specificity as you can muster.


          Bad: Climb a mountain. 
          Good: Summit Mt. Rainier with friends by year end.


  • Measurable — as the old adage says, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” If possible, try to quantify the result. You want to know absolutely, positively whether or not you hit the goal.


           Bad: Lose weight.
           Good: Lose 20 pounds in the next 5 months by making healthy choices.


  • Actionable — every goal should start with an action verb (e.g., “quit,” “run,” “finish,” “eliminate,” etc.) rather than a to-be verb (e.g., “am,” “be,” “have,” etc.)


            Bad: Be more consistent in my running.
            Good: Run weekly with to compete in a 1/2 marathon in 6 months.


  • Realistic — you have to be careful here. A good goal should stretch you, but you have to add a dose of common sense. I go right up to the edge of my comfort zone and then step over it. (If I am not out of my comfort zone, I’m not thinking big enough.)


            Bad: Qualify for the Tour de France
            Good: Get my cycling speed to a steady 22 mph over extended periods


  • Time-bound—every goal needs a date associated with it. When do you plan to deliver on that goal. It could be by year-end (December 31) or it could be more near-term (September 30). A goal without a date is just a dream. Make sure that every goal ends with a by when date.


             Bad: Lose 10 pounds.
             Good: Lose 10 pounds by December 31st.


   3. Write them down. This is critical. There is tremendous power in writing your goals down even if you                 never develop an action plan or do anything else (not recommended). Anthony Robbins documents this         in his wonderful book, Awaken the Giant WithinWhen you write something down, you are stating your           intention and setting things in motion.


   4. Review them regularly. While writing your goals down is a powerful exercise in itself, the real test is in               reviewing them on a regular basis. This is what turns them into reality. Every time I review my goals, I ask         myself, What’s the next step I need to take to move toward this goal. You can review them daily, weekly,         or monthly. (I review them monthly) It’s up to you. The key is to do let them inspire and populate your             daily task list.


   5. Share them selectively. I used to advise people to “go public” with their goals—even blog about them.         But in my book, I tell my readers that that many people don't want you to succeed. Now I tell people               not to share them with anyone who is not committed 100% to helping you achieve them (example: your         mentor, mastermind group, spouse, or business partner).


The practice of goal-setting is not just helpful; it is a prerequisite for happiness and success. Psychologists tell us that people who make consistent progress toward meaningful goals live happier more satisfied lives than those who don’t.

If you don’t have written goals, let me encourage you to make an appointment on your calendar to work on them with me. You can get a rough draft done in as little as an hour or two. Few things in life pay such rich dividends for such a modest investment of your time. 

bottom of page