How To Set Achievable Goals

By Azzy Aslam

Habits, Routines, & Behaviours

8 Jan, 2018

It’s January. A New Year. A fresh start. This month millions of people will be setting goals for the year ahead, some may even have set their new goals back in December. Either way, we will start the year with a positive ambitiious outlook, stand in front of the mirror and say: “this year I am really going to change” or “this year is different and I will achieve my goals”.

Sadly, most of the goals will never be achieved. A US study from the University of Scranton summarised on Statistic Brain says that 92 percent of people will not achieve the goals they set. If you joined a gym to lose weight and get fit then there is a high probability that by 3-4 weeks the visits to the gym will have dropped to once a week and in a few more weeks they will stop altogether.

From the numbers on Statistic Brain there are 8 percent of people who will achieve the goals they set. There are many factors that determine if you will achieve your goals and the first three is how you think about your goals, how you set your goals, and to track and adjust, I will write about the other factors in subsequent blogs. For now let’s focus on how to think and set achievable goals.

How To Thinking About Your Goals

Getting straight to the point; Think about your goals in the positive and phrase your goals with positive words. Make your mind see what you want to achieve or do rather than something you don’t want or something you want to lose or want to stop.

For example, if we take the top goals – losing weight/healthier eating – most people will set goals such as:

  • I will stop eating sugary, fatty, and fast foods.
  • I am going to lose 10 Kg or weight this year

Now read the first goal again, notice the image(s) that come to mind? Do the same for the second goal. The chances are you will see the sugary, fatty and fast foods when you read the first goal. For the second goal, it may be difficult to see an image at all or perhaps you see something weighing 10 Kg. It’s as if your brain just doesn’t see the words “stop” or “lose”.

If I said to you “don’t think of a red car”, there’s a high probablity that in your mind the image that pops up is… a red car! There’s a whole bunch of neuroscience around what your brain/mind “understands” and how it views the world. Suffice it to say, you need to get your brain/mind to see the things you want. So, let’s now rephrase the goals in the positive and what you want and more importantly what you want your mind to focus on and visualise:

  • I will eat only healthy foods, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts.
  • I will weigh 70 Kg  –  (assuming we currently weigh 80 Kg)

Read the goals again and notice which images come to mind this time. Hopefully, you will see the fresh food, vegetables, fruits, and nuts in the first goal. In the second, you may see yourself weighing the target weight in the goal and how you look at that weight.

Try this with your current goals and see how different your outlook and approach will be to your goals.

Make Your Goals Specific And Timed

You probably have heard this a million times when it comes to goals, objectives and targets. Making your goal more specific helps you to focus on what it is you are trying to achieve and by giving it a date/time or a time frame sets yet another specific parameter for your goal; when will you achieve it.

Continuing with the examples above we can restate the goals in the following way:

  • Each day I will eat only health foods, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts.
  • I will weigh 70 Kg by 30th June  – (I am assuming you are setting the goal in January!)

You can make the goals even more specific and add more detail should you wish. Make it more personal, realistic and something you can picture in your mind and see yourself doing or having achieved. Below are some more examples of the above goals:

  • Each day I will plan which foods I will eat so they are healthy, have fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts.
  • Each day at 8am I will plan which foods I will eat so they are healthy, have fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts.
  • Each evening at 7pm I will plan which foods I will eat tomorrow so they are healthy, have fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, and nuts
  • Every Sunday at 7pm I will plan which foods I will eat each day so that they are healthy, have fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts.
  • I will weigh 70 Kg by 30th June ready for my holiday in July
  • On 30th June I will weigh 70 Kg and will wear my size 32 waist jeans

You can expand the goal until it fits your requirement, but remember to keep it positive, focused and specific.

Monitor, Measure and Adjust

A vital part of achieving any goal is to monitor, measure and adjust. Simply track your progress and review how things are going. You can then decide how to adjust your approach and take action to stay on track to achieving your goal…on time!

If you want assistance with setting achievable and specific goals or simply a quick chat about the ones you have created already, call 07552 535767 and I will be happy to help with your audacious goals!

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  1. Anna

    Good points about focusing on a positive outcome and the ‘What’s in it for me?’ factor. Experience has taught me that if I am not clear on the positives of why I want (or think I want) to change something, it won’t happen!

    • coachmentor

      Hi Anna, Thanks for the comment and you are spot on about being clear on the positive outcomes which will help you to achieve your goal(s).



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