How to Set Goals so That You’ll Actually Achieve Them

by on Nov 15, 2017 in Career Advancement

Now that the year is drawing to a close, it’s a good time to start thinking about the new year that lies ahead and what goals you want to accomplish in 2018.

I’ll admit: Personally, I’ve never really been one to set New Year’s resolutions. Rather, I think that goals should be set throughout the year and not just at the start of a new one. I’m a big believer in setting more manageable weekly, monthly and quarterly goals.

My advice? Consider making your New Year’s resolution the following: to properly set—and accomplish—all of those little goals that you set for yourself throughout the year. Use the upcoming New Year as an excuse to really refine your goal-setting technique.

Because yes, setting goals requires the proper technique. Set goals that are too broad, and you’ll lose focus. Set goals that are too vague, and you won’t know when you have achieved them.

According to Workboard, 70% of goals fail because they are irrelevant, never executed, quickly forgotten or not inspiring.

So what’s the secret to falling under that 30%? Read on to find out.

Set SMART Goals

If you want to achieve your goals, they’ve got to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely).

Specific means that you must define exactly what you want to accomplish when setting your goal. Think about the five W’s (who, what, when, where and why), if applicable. So instead of having your goal be “Write more articles,” a more effective goal would be “Write 5 articles by next Monday.”

Just as it sounds, measurable means that your goal can be easily measured. Otherwise, how will you know when you have achieved it? While setting your goal, figure out exactly how you can measure it down the road. For instance, if you have set a career goal to increase lead generation by 20% by the end of the following quarter, your KPIs to measure that goal might be the number of gated downloads and the number of sales-qualified leads generated.

Next, make sure that your goal is achievable. You may want to become CTO of a company by next year, but is that really achievable if you are just starting out? Be realistic and don’t set your expectations too high. If you do, you are probably going to quickly lose motivation—and if not, you’ll be disappointed when you don’t achieve your goal. Your goal should be challenging…but not so challenging that you can’t achieve it.

Relevant goals are goals that are relevant to your life and your career. If you are a digital nomad moving to Spain, it might not be relevant to set a goal to learn Chinese. It would probably be more relevant to set a goal to learn Spanish or improve your Spanish (if you don’t speak it already).

Lastly, make sure that your goals are timely. Set a specific date for when you want to achieve your goal by—and make sure that that date is realistic, given what you want to achieve. Having some sort of timeline in place will help ensure that you achieve your goals in a timely fashion.

Break Your Goals Down

Once your SMART goals are set, you’ll then want to break them down into bite-sized pieces. Define the actionable steps that must be taken to achieve each goal. Work your way backwards.

So if your goal is to design a website by November 31, 2017, your action steps might look something like this:

4. Create a wireframe by November 10, 2017

3. Create a visual design of the website by November 20, 2017

2. Test all pages of the website by November 24, 2017, and fix any kinks

1. Launch the website by November 31, 2017

Breaking your goals down not only makes it easier to track your progress, but it also makes achieving your goals far less overwhelming—and provides you regularly with the satisfaction that comes with completion.

Monitor Your Goals Regularly  

So many people forget about their goals after they set them. The solution to this? Start by writing down your goals. When you write things down, they become more real, as opposed to just an imaginary thought that you may or may not have had at some point in time. Keep those written goals somewhere where you can see them every day.

Then check in with yourself each week (if not each day) on how your goals are progressing. Writing down your goals and monitoring them on a regular basis will help to hold yourself accountable and ensure that you achieve them in the end.

Tell People About Your Goals

On that note, according to, people are 33% more likely to succeed in their goals if they share them with other people. And they are 72% more likely to succeed when money is put on the line.

Tell a friend, family member, coworker or even your boss about your goals and share updates with them on a regular basis. At SUCCESS agency, each of us on the team was required to submit our annual goals to Avin, our boss, at the start of the year. Why does this work? When you tell someone else about your goal, it helps to make the goal more real, and knowing that someone else is monitoring your progress too will increase the likelihood that you achieve it.


Setting your goals—and achieving them—comes down to intentionality.

Be intentional about how you set your goals. Make sure that they are SMART. Once you’ve set them, break them down into smaller, more manageable pieces. If you set a monthly goal for yourself, break that goal down into weekly, and even daily, actionable steps. Define the steps that are needed to achieve that goal. Then write your goals down and monitor them regularly to ensure that you are on the way to achieving them.

So…Now are you ready to ring in the New Year?

About the author of the post
Mary Blackiston is the Content Marketing Specialist for SUCCESS agency.