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Tips to Help Set and Achieve Goals

Aug 20, 2020

People become effective goal-setters when they understand and develop five action-oriented behaviors and incorporate these actions with each goal set.

  1. Put goals in writing. Goals that are written are concrete and motivational. Making progress toward written goals increases feelings of success and well-being. Using a goal-setting template can help children track their successes. A goal-setting smartphone app may motivate tech-savvy children even more. Some apps have gaming features that make goal-setting a fun way to achieve results and build new habits.
  2. Self-commit. For a goal to be motivating, it must give meaning to a mental or physical action to which one feels committed. This self-commitment becomes a key element in self-regulation, the ability to monitor, control, and alter one's own behaviors. This doesn’t mean that others should not be involved in goal-setting. In fact, it's great to have other there as goal facilitators—helping see options, asking questions, and providing supportive feedback.
  3. Be specific. Goals must be much more specific than just the outcome. Here’s a simple formula. 1) I will [lose 20 pounds]; 2) By doing what? [exercising 3 times a week and cutting out sweets]; 3) When? How? With Whom?; 4) Measured by [pounds].
  4. Stretch for difficulty. Goals should always be challenging enough to be attainable, but not so challenging that they become sources of major setbacks.
  5. Seek feedback and support. Part of the fun and motivation of setting goals is working with a supportive environment. Even though goals are often individual in nature, you should be able to recognize how a goal is tied to family values, the aspirations of a sports team, or the aim of a specific program. When you understand this connection, you feel more open to seeking feedback and receiving support. When goals are achieved, it’s time to celebrate with others!


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