Setting Attainable Goals: A Step-By-Step Guide

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krissy author

by Krissy

In this post we are going to cover what it means to set attainable goals, as well as how to achieve them. 

Here you will learn not only the benefits of attainable goal setting, but also how to build your goals into a lifestyle. 

If you’re ready to set goals you know you will achieve, then this post is for you!

Let’s get started…

Attainable Goals

When it comes to goals, setting attainable goals is what we’re after. We wouldn't realistically or wholeheartedly go after them otherwise.

We most certainly wouldn't put in the work and effort needed if we didn't believe within ourselves that we could reach them. 

There is plenty of advice floating around out there for goal setting, but all in all we have found it to be a bit lacking. 

It's not that it is bad advice, per say, but it tends to result in goals that are too open and vague, or far too specific.

The Problems With Traditional Goal Setting Advice

As mentioned above, when it comes to traditional goal setting advice, most of the problems stem from the goals being too vague or too specific.

Specific or Vague Goals

For example, too vague might look and sound something like this:

My Goal is

So what are some issues with these goals? For starters, they tend to be arbitrary. Also, they are not very clear. These are not measurable goals.

You want health and happiness? Well what does that even look like for you? 

An even better question you might ask yourself is why you want it? Look beyond what the goal is at the surface and start to explore your deeper motives. 

So what might goals that are too specific look like? Goals that are too specific tend to focus on a set number or a date. 

For example, you might say ‘I want to accomplish X by January 1st’ or ‘my goal is to lose 10 pounds in 30 days’. 

If you don’t meet the goal based on the arbitrary date or number, you may feel as if you failed. This can cause you to feel discouraged, and overlook all the gains you’ve made along the way. 

Another problem stems from the use of SMART Goals. 

I'm sure you've heard of the SMART goals acronym. But what does SMART goals stand for? Well, these goals are smart, meaning:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

As you can see, this is a much better approach to setting attainable goals than being too vague. The smart goals template is a fantastic resource for goal setting when it comes to business performance, sales, work objectives, or repetitive tasks. 

A Better Approach 

Most smart goals and objectives examples are given in the context of a work environment. The problem arises when we try to use this method on our life goals overall.

Setting Attainable Goals

One weakness of a SMART goal statement is that it tends to put all the focus on the achievement and end result, while overlooking the personal development gained along the way.

It can take attention away from who you have to become in your pursuit because it is too process focused. 

Setting Attainable Goals

So what does setting attainable goals even look like?

How we set attainable goals is, again, a holistic approach. You are getting to the root of your why, and how it relates to your overall lifestyle design

Also, it is being aware that the journey is the destination. Realizing steps in that direction is the success. Even if you 'fail' you still win because of the knowledge, insight, and progress gained. 

Taking all of this into account, we’ve come up with a simple 5 Step Process for Setting Attainable Goals, and achieving them. 

Step 1. Start At The End 

What does your life look like once your goal has been reached? Who are you as a person? What does it feel like having achieved the goal?

Starting at the end (and then working your way back to the present) will help the path to your goal become clear. You may find some things in your current situation will need to be altered or changed. 

Your schedule may change. Your current habits and routines might need to be adjusted. You may even find your social circle looks a bit different.

Starting at the end, where the goal has been achieved, can help you come to terms with the possibility of leaving your comfort zone. 

You will have seen the picture of the ‘better, improved you’ in the future, and the hurdles you’ll have to overcome along the way will feel worth it. 

Step 2. Perform A Self-Assessment

Accurately seeing who you are, as well as where you are in relation to where you want to be, is going to help you tremendously on the path to setting attainable goals.

What is your current self image, how you see yourself? 

Set Attainable Goals

Being aware of how you see yourself and how you treat yourself is a lot of what makes up your self-image. You can measure the state of your current self-image by paying attention to your self talk. 

As you develop the awareness of your self-talk, and the ability to shift it, you can make the effort to talk and behave as the person who achieves the goals they set.

You can mold your self image into this person through your awareness, your attitude, and the language you use.

Determine the person you have to be, then work on becoming that person each day. Utilizing practices such as journaling, visualization and affirmations are all great ways to achieve this. 

Recommended Resource

A great resource I would recommend for understanding the self-image and how it affects all areas of your life (including your goals) is a book called Psycho Cybernetics.

Step 3. Determine The Skills & Resources Required

Once you know where you are, and who you need to be, it’s time to get clear on what you will need to reach your goal.

This is about understanding what it’s going to take to get where you want to go. What skills do you need to develop? What research do you need to do? What knowledge needs to be obtained?

Is there a course, book, or even mentor that can assist you in gaining the skills and knowledge required?

Simplify Your Life in 7 Days

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Over the span of 7 days, we will cover a variety of topics that will allow you to find ways to slow down, reset, and simplify.

This step is about getting clear on what you need to reach the goal, so that you can go out and get it. 

Step 4. Work On Personal Growth 

All goals are achieved through the process of personal growth. You have to grow in strength, knowledge, and resources for a goal to be achievable. 

Personal growth is about being 'solutions focused' rather than 'problems focused'. As you grow & improve yourself, you will start finding ways to address and overcome obstacles on the way to realizing your goals.

Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.

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Start to see personal growth as a lifelong process. If you’re following traditional goal setting advice and don't reach your goal by the target date, you might feel as if you failed. 

This can be discouraging if you are too hung up on the specifics and not looking at all the growth you've accomplished. 

There are no ending dates or plateaus. No constant ups and downs of setting and achieving. You’re just always focused on improvement.

Recommended Resource

The Success Principles is our recommended resource for personal growth. It encompasses the fundamentals of success for all areas of your life.

Step 5. Make It A Lifestyle 

Once you’ve determined who you are, who you need to be, and gathered the skills and resources through working on personal growth, it’s time to make it a lifestyle. 

Making it a lifestyle is about building your new and improved habits into a daily routine. Even small, simple, seemingly insignificant disciplines will compound into massive results over time. 

Lifestyle Goals

What is a goal in life that you want to achieve? Now take a look and determine what small steps you could take towards it each day. 

For example, if you have a weight loss or fitness goal, you could start by:

  • adding a few minutes of movement into your day (and building upon it from there)
  • doing light stretches before bed every night (and work up towards a daily yoga sequence)
  • reducing your meal portions by 10% (then start adding healthier options to your plate)

Those types of simple changes will create more progress over time than a 2 hour Saturday morning fitness boot-camp. They will also be easier to build into your routine, and you’ll be more likely to stay consistent.

Taking consistent action is the key to reaching your goals. For a goal to be attainable, it will require daily effort. 

And when you are working towards them each and every day, they become a part of your regular routine, and your life. 

Recommended Resource

The Slight Edge is a book I would definitely recommend if you want to explore this topic further. It completely changed my perspective on 'simple' daily actions.

Final Thoughts

Like we had mentioned at the beginning, a holistic approach to attainable goals will help set you up to reach them. More importantly it creates balance. 

Once you have gained clarity on a particular goal and why you would like to achieve it, the main hurdle to overcome is the image you hold of yourself in relation to the goal.

Trying to fit your goals into a potentially distorted image you hold of yourself will more than likely not play out very well (or you will not hold onto said goal for very long). 

Your self image must be addressed and dealt with before setting attainable goals can be possible.

Bringing your mindset in line through positive self talk will cultivate a healthy self image. A positive self image inspires action for personal growth, and consistent habits tie it all together. 

Recommended Resource

If you are feeling stuck, or if the formula above feels a bit daunting to tackle on your own, I would recommend checking out this video course. It walks you through the goal setting process, step by step: The Art of Living with Purpose

What about you?

Through extensive trial and error, this is the formula that we have found to work the best for us. It's a journey of constant and never ending improvement.

What about you? What are some attainable goals you plan to set for yourself? 

Let us know in the comments below!

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