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How to Set Solid Goals that Will Succeed

Setting goals is a powerful way to give your life focus and direction. Effective goal setting can be the difference between wishful thinking and tangible success. To reach that level of success, you need to do more than jot down aspirations—you need thoughtful planning and execution. You also need to decide when to say “no.” Here are five solid tips to help you set goals and succeed at them:

Daily writing prompt

How often do you say “no” to things that would interfere with your goals?


1 Be specific and clear about what you want to achieve

Vague goals are like leaving your house with no idea where you’re headed. It will be a surprise where you end up.

When setting your goals, be as specific and clear as possible. Instead of saying, “I want to finish my first novel,” specify, “I will write a chapter every two weeks and complete two chapters a month.” Clarity in your goals makes it easier for you to track your progress.

If something does not align with your goals, avoid “shiny object syndrome” and say no to distractions. You might have an idea for another story, but stick to the current one until it is finished.

2 Set realistic and attainable goals

When you set goals that are too far out of reach, you are more likely to set yourself up for disappointment and frustration. Know your current abilities and resources, and set goals that are challenging yet achievable. If you’ve never written a book before, don’t expect to finish writing your first book in one month.

Rather, break down larger goals into smaller, manageable steps to prevent overwhelm and maintain your motivation. For example, start with a story outline. Then sketch out the first scene in your story before you start to write that scene.

3 Establish a timeline to reach your goal

Without a deadline or milestones, it will be easy to work on a goal until infinity. Establishing a timeline helps you prioritize your actions. Set specific dates for achieving milestones along the way and hold yourself accountable to these deadlines.

This means saying “no” to distractions, such as a weekend of social activities if you haven’t reached your goal. However, you still need to make room for adjustments, such as a special celebration with family, or a setback, such as becoming exhausted from work.

4 Write down your goals

Writing down your goals is like creating a contract with yourself. You’ve committed yourself to accomplishing something by a specific time. Writing your goals on your calendar places your goals where you can see them. You have a reminder that you committed yourself to finishing the first chapter of your book by the following Saturday, for example.

5 Create an action plan

Writing down your goals without creating an action plan is like deciding on a trip to another country without planning how you’ll get there. It won’t happen.

You need to break down your goal into actionable steps. How will you be able to finish writing one chapter by the end of the week? You may have a specific word count to complete each day. Or one day might be set aside for planning the outline of a scene.

You should identify potential obstacles and brainstorm strategies for overcoming them. What if you’re invited to go somewhere one night before you reach your milestone? Do you say “no” or create a new set of daily milestones to make sure you still finish your chapter if you take a day off? Review and adjust your action plan as needed to stay on track and adapt to changing circumstances.

Key Takeaways

By following these five tips and setting realistic goals that you can achieve with an action plan—you can set yourself up for success. Remember, achieving your goals requires commitment and perseverance. With dedication and strategic planning, you can turn your goals into reality.

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