Idiots Guide to Goal Setting: 5 Steps to Success

Weve all read about personal goal setting. Weve all tried it. According to the stats, most of the time we all fail.

I often used to slap hand to forehead and mutter through clinched teeth, Idiot! after realizing that I have, yet again failed to accomplish even the simplest of personal goals (much less the grand New Years goal). Over the years, though, I have managed to develop a cohesive method for curing this ailment (as well as curing the ever-present handprint on my forehead).

Making a positive use of the once negative pet name that I had for myself, I developed Idiots Guide to Goal Setting. Ready to cure the ever-present handprint on your forehead?

First, there is one pre-requisite before launching forth.

Before we even get out of the gate, we must first get beyond the list of things that should be our goals and first commit to making ourselves priority and believing that what WE want IS important! Too often we are convinced that what we should do for ourselves is what we want to do for ourselves. This is not the case.

Push aside the should thoughts and focus on what you passionately want for yourself. What are you willing to commit to and see through to the end?

In order for this commitment to be different from all of the others you must have a support system that will uphold you when the tide of daily life rigors begins to arrive once again.

This is the essential ingredient that most people dont include when they make a commitment to change. The following 5 steps are designed to help you create a resolution that is clear, specific, and planned out with the necessary support and accountability to make this swing at goal setting one for the records!

5 steps to success with goal setting

1. Keep It Simple!

There's a temptation, to generate a list of everything youve ever wanted to change. Don't fall for it! You'll have better luck fulfilling one or two goals than you will with a list of fifty.

2. Be Specific

Let's say your goal is to create a better balanced life between health, relationships, and work. Word this carefully. Try not to think of it as "I am going to balance my life." That's a tall glass of stress ready to be gulped! It forces you into thinking of the resolution as something you must do, not something you want to do.

Make it sound a little gentler: "I'm now going to explore different ways of balancing my life." This also suggests more of a plan. You will fulfill the goal by experimenting with strategies for life balance.

The first phrasing sounds as if you're going to force yourself to have a balanced life by sheer willpower.

3. Make the Plan

Once you know what your goal is, plan it out in clear steps. Your plan doesn't have to be a complicated one. Start by answering the question, What is the first step I need to take toward accomplishing my goal?

For life balance, it might look like this:

  • Work no more than 40 hours a week

  • Walk 3 times a week

  • Create a date night for significant relationships

    4. Write it Down

    Write down your goal and your plan of action. Stick it up on the fridge or in your office. Write in the activities in your day timer or wherever you know you'll see it. That way you'll have a constant reminder of the resolution.

    5. Get Support! In order for this goal to be different from all of the others you have set, you must first have a support system that will uphold you when the tide of daily life rigors begins to rise. This is the essential ingredient that most people dont include when they make a commitment to change. All of the previous steps hinge on this one!

    Personal (or Life) Coaching is a perfect example of such support. Accountability, guidance and clarity are the prime focuses of these practitioners. Coaching sessions are devoted completely to setting and accomplishing your goals. Unlike family and friends, a coach is objective, well trained and committed to seeing your goals come to fruition.

    Regardless of the goals you set for yourself, what is most important is making yourself priority and committing to living the best life possible with the minimal amount of handprints on your forehead!

    2004 by Dr. Robert A. Eubanks

    Article URL:

    Terms of use: This article may be published electronically or in print, as long as the byline at the end of the article is included without alteration.

    About The Author

    Dr. Robert A. Eubanks is the founder of Bridge to Solutions Coaching. He coaches people around the country via telephone to improve organization, time management, goal setting and to create the best darn life possible!

    For a free 30 minute coaching session, e-mail or visit

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