College, Home, Lifestyle

Goal Setting: How to Actually Achieve Your Goals

2020 is less than two months away.

Have you accomplished the goals you wrote down in January?

For most of us, the answer is no. Maybe you got a couple done if you’re lucky. 

Approach goal setting in a new way to finish off the year strong and prepare yourself to crush your goals next year. Setting and achieving goals doesn’t have to be impossible!

WRITE it down 

I do this just about every month, and quarterly for larger goals. Start by writing down a list of all of the things you want to achieve or the habits you want to create/change. Don’t filter, write down anything and everything that comes to mind.

Break it DOWN

Take each goal and break it down into at least three steps. This may look like:

Goal: Start taking care of plants (without killing them)


  1. Research which plants are best for _______ (indoors, low maintenance, air cleaning, little sunlight, etc.)
  2. Set up an area for the plants (or figure out where they can go in your home)
  3. Buy plants and pots
  4. Write down what care they all need
  5. Maybe put a checklist on the fridge (or a reminder on your phone) so you don’t forget to water them!

Or, it may not be as cut and dry. For example, if you want to start keeping your house cleaner, maybe for one week you make the bed every single day. Once you accomplish that, you add washing the dishes everyday (all of them), then you add putting away anything that’s laying out before going to bed every night. This is a little more flexible and may include things that are weekly or daily, and may include more setbacks. However, it follows the same sort of pattern. 

I love the quote:

“A dream with a date is a goal, a goal with steps is a plan, and a plan with action is reality.”

For me, creating steps to break down each goal is an essential part of reaching that goal. 

Set a due date

For some goals, and for some people, this step comes first. I usually focus more on steps just because not every goal has a very obvious or pressing deadline. Even for more long term goals, it’s a good idea to set some sort of timeline so that you don’t keep saying “I’ll get to it next week.”

For goals like the example of keeping the house cleaner, it may  not work to say, in “90 days I’ll be perfect about keeping the house clean.” But, if there are 10 habits, for example, that you want to build (putting away clothes, washing the dishes, vacuuming weekly, etc), you could give yourself 10 weeks to build up to them if you’re adding one a week. Or to give yourself room for setbacks, you could make it 12 weeks. 

Track it!

This is a fun part for me. I love tracking goals. This is easy for me because I do physically write out just about everything in some sort of planner format. If you’re totally digital and keep lists in the notes on your phone, you may have to get creative about how to track goals. 

If you have a physical calendar, you can put an x, or some symbol, on each day that you successfully go to the gym, read before bed, get your cleaning task done, or whatever it may be. 

You can also write out every goal/step on a sheet of paper for the month, or week, and just put X’s every time you do it. So you’ll see if you only go to the gym three times this week compared to five times last week. 

Whatever way works best for you, just make sure you find some quantifiable and visual way for you to keep track of how much you’re actually keeping up with your goals and the steps you’ve identified to reach them. 

MODIFY your goal 

Sometimes, your goals don’t work out the way you wanted. It’s not always because you just didn’t try hard enough. Sometimes, goals just weren’t defined clearly enough, don’t fit your life right now, or need to be approached differently. 

I’m a big supporter of regular reflection – on goals and life in general. I think it’s important to sit down every month, or at least every three months and look at what you last wrote down that you wanted to achieve and how much you’ve done towards accomplishing that goal. 

If you see that you aren’t making progress, figure out why. Is it because you just forgot? Got lazy? Or is it because you’re always too tired to work out in the evenings? Or the book you started trying to read wasn’t interesting? Re-assess and see if there is anything you can change, besides your attitude, that may help you achieve that goal.  

That might mean being a little less ambitious, giving yourself more time, or admitting that you need someone to help keep you accountable. Whatever it may be, if it’s helping you get closer to reaching your goal, it’s always a good thing.

STOP viewing it as optional or your “last priority”

Lastly, if you aren’t having a logistical problem and still aren’t making progress, it may be time to adjust your attitude. 

Most of us have very long to-do lists and are juggling a lot of things on a daily basis. You absolutely do have to cut yourself some slack sometimes, but that doesn’t mean completely sidelining your goals. 

Are the things that you say you want to work on always at the bottom of your to-do list? Are they always the things that get pushed off at the end of the day? It may feel irresponsible, but maybe you need to move them closer to the top of your list. 

We have more time in a day than we think. Think about the last time you had something extra unexpectedly thrown on your plate. You got it done, right? On top of everything else that you normally do anyways, even though you say you don’t have more time, right?

Your goals are that surprise extra assignment, that unexpected loss of time that it turns out you actually can handle. Try putting the gym at the top of your list and getting it done first and see how it changes your day and your productivity. Get the dishes done first thing in the morning. Work on your novel before you start answering emails or working on an assignment. 

You can absolutely do it. 

Still not sure where to start?

If you’re still unsure or feel overwhelmed, fill out the questionnaire below.

Tell me about your goal (submit as many as you want) and I will send you steps for that goal and tips to help you approach it the right way. 

If it’s not working for you, you can always reach out and get a new plan or ask questions by emailing me at 

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