Goal setting is hard, but necessary.

Financial year end is coming up fast, and one of the best ways to get excited for the year ahead is to create a high-quality list of goals you’d like to accomplish.

Goal setting is hard, it’s about excluding dreams, excluding the impractical, being realistic inline with resources and timelines. Nothing is easy in that but it’s necessary to go through the process else you won’t achieve things in life as quickly otherwise.

Get Into a Great Mental and Emotional State

How can you set a goal if you’re not excited by what you want to be or create? The best place to start is getting yourself into excellent mental and emotional shape. Morning rituals are a great way to accomplish this. Morning rituals are permanent, ongoing things that you do to get yourself in the right state of mind for the day ahead. Whether your morning starts with exercise, stretching or coffee, this means designing a personalised ritual that works for you.

List Your Hopes and Dreams

The next step is to list out your hopes and dreams. Finding the deepest reason, or ‘why’, behind your goals is essential to keep you motivated and ensure you really believe in what you’re doing.

However, sometimes that’s easier said than done. The ‘5 whys’ technique is a great trick you can try to dig down and find the true motivation behind your goals. Here is an example:

I want to own my own business

1st Why? It will allow me to have greater control over how I spend my time.

2nd Why? I can work from home, cafe or office + take holidays when I want

3rd Why? I will be able to spend more time with the people I care about.

4th Why? Supporting my family is the most important thing to me.

5th Why? The is what I feel is the ultimate source of my happiness.

The 5th “Why” is the root cause of motivation

Another thing to consider is framing your goals in a motivating and inspirational way. Language controls pretty much everything in life, so the way you speak about your goals will set them up for success or failure. Load your sentences with positive keywords and trick your mind into recognising that the task is possible and easy to accomplish.

Instead of a boring to-do styled goal…

Lose weight by exercising and dieting.

Go for an inspiring purpose filled goal…

Create a fit and strong body.

Sort Your Goals Into Rough Groups

The next step is to sort your goals into broad groups. This is a great tool to help identify which areas you’re really committed to. Perhaps you’re financially driven, spiritually focussed or motivated by family. Sorting your goals into categories can give you insight into where your priorities lie, or perhaps areas your subconscious wants you to work on.

Start Curating Down to the MUSTS

MUST – The most vital things you can’t live without

SHOULD – Things you consider important, but not vital

COULD – The “nice to haves”

WON’T – Things that provide little to no value

Time is finite. We only have so many hours in the day, week and year. That’s why it’s important that the tasks we accomplish are always perfectly aligned with our main goals. I.e. our MUSTs. Realistically, you should probably only have time to complete MUST goals, and should aim to remove SHOULDs, COULDs and WON’Ts from focus.

Create too many non-essential, low-value goals and you’re looking at more of a ‘to-do’ list than a list of goals. Keep your goals minimalistic, few in number, but focused and meaningful.

Set a Timeframe for Each

A specific time frame holds you accountable, defining a clear success or failure point. A timeframe means you can’t always push back your goals and never complete them.
Depending on whether your goals are short term (weeks, months), medium (year), or long term (3+), will change the way you approach goal setting.

As time management is so important in helping you to stay on track, sometimes it’s important to say no to things that might derail progress towards your personal or business goals. Business magnate Warren Buffett famously stated that, “the difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything”.

So saying no is really about curation, making sure you’re not diluting your time and focus. Don’t be afraid to use it!

List Out the Actions for Each

The next step is to list out the actions required to achieve your goal. You might find that there are plenty of ways these actions can be completed without tackling them in their entirety. By breaking them down into smaller, more manageable tasks, you can make the process less overwhelming.

When creating your list, you might also notice some actions can be achieved with help from other people or systems. Using the resources available at your disposal and finding new resources so that you can delegate or automate tasks is the best way to achieve goals.


Success is in small actions, rituals and just starting. Small actions and rituals are really about doing little things, repeated everyday, that will have a compounding effect and result in the achievement of your goal. But, the hardest part of all is often just taking that first step. A great technique to combat procrastination, just like listing your actions, is to simply break your task down into smaller actions. You’ve just got to sit down and open your laptop or put on your running shoes. Don’t think about the next step, take it one action at a time. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll get into the swing of things.

What Motivation and Inspiration is Needed?

The key to sticking to your goals is staying motivated and inspired. It sounds simple, but it’s actually quite easy to forget what motivated you in the first place. That’s why it’s important to remember your ‘why’ – the driving force behind your goals.

There’s also a number of ways you can kick start your motivation. Maybe you’re inspired by motivational videos, powerful inspirational quotes, or mood boards. It’s all up to finding the method that works for you and sticking to it!

What Accountability Can You Have?

Accountability is really important. If you don’t hold yourself accountable, it’s incredibly easy to fall off the wagon and revert to bad or unproductive habits. Sharing your goals with family and friends, or via a vlog or blog, is a fantastic and easy way to stay accountable. It also has the added risk of potentially failing publicly, which can be a great motivator for a lot of people.

For a more personal approach to accountability, you can read or remind yourself of your motivation each day. Stick your ‘why’, motivational quotes and goals around your house or workspace and use them as mantras to keep you focused.


Making sure to reward yourself is essential. Humans aren’t built for long term gratification, especially now that modern technologies like social media and apps continually expose us to instant gratification. Keeping your rewards frequent is essential. Reward yourself for the progress you’ve made, no matter how small. Be present in each moment that you accomplish a part of your goal, stop and smell the flowers, and express gratitude. Train your brain to love the feeling of progress, it will make things a lot easier in the long run.

Photo by Estee Janssens

Categories: Strategy

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