12 Goal Setting Strategies that Deliver Big Results

Have you ever noticed how some people always seem to be able to create the life they want to have? This doesn’t happen because some people are lucky and others are not. With the right goal setting strategies, you create your own luck.

In one of the most famous studies on goals setting, the 1979 Harvard MBA graduates were asked one simple question…

“Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”

The answers showed that:

  • 84% did not have any specific goals
  • 13% had goals that they had not written down
  • 3% had written down specific and clear goals

Ten years later, the same MBA graduates were interviewed to find out how much they were earning. The 3% that had written down their goals were making ten times more money than the combined earnings of all of the other 97%!

Just by writing down your goals, you put yourself in position to achieve great success. Here are twelve goal setting strategies that the ultra successful use to drive big results.

#1. Keep the number of goals you set to a minimum.

If you have multiple goals which you are trying to achieve right now, the multitasking required can rob you of enormous levels of productivity. You can lose up to 15 minutes of productivity every time you switch from one goal to another. That makes it difficult to achieve anything.


Sometimes it might be tempting to “cheat” and set several goals that can be worked on at once, but this still requires multitasking. You can lose focus very quickly when you’re trying to carry on multiple tasks at once.

Keep the goals you are currently working on to a minimum. Some may recommend 5-7 goals, but even that may be too many. You may discover that working toward one goal at a time is what is required to help you maintain your focus. See that goal through to the end and then go to the next one.

#2. Be descriptive when setting your goals.

The human brain loves visual information. This is why pictures, memes, and digital graphics are so popular on social media today. It allows people to feel like they’re able to consume more information because they can visualize the information being communicated. This is what we must do with our goals as well.

How do you visualize a goal?

  • Write down what you hope to accomplish and be very specific about the outcomes you wish to achieve.
  • Picture yourself working through each step that is necessary to achieve the desired outcome.
  • Plot out how you will spend your time each day, making adjustments to your routines as necessary, so you can put the work in that will need to get done.

If you can be descriptive and detailed when setting a goal, it becomes easier to see yourself being able to achieve your desired outcome. Make sure you set deadlines for the steps you’ll need to take as well so you can remain motivated to achieve those goals.

#3. Create goals that are realistic.

You should set a high bar of expectations when setting goals. You want to be the very best you can be. That desire to be the very best, however, can also cause us a lot of trouble if we are not careful. The goals we set for ourselves must be realistically obtainable so we can stay motivated to work toward it.

If you’re just starting out as a new business, earning $1 billion in net revenues in your first 6 months is going to be an unrealistic goal for most. Creating a brand with an 80% local saturation rate would be much more achievable.

This doesn’t mean you won’t hit $1 billion in net revenues at some point with your business. Setting realistic goals just means you’re not trying to bite off more than you can chew. Success fuels our desire to set new goals. You’re much more likely to keep moving forward if you can meet your saturate rate goal when compared to not meeting the net revenue goal.

#4. Review your goals often.

You’ve written down your goals. You’ve outlined how you’d like to achieve them. You’ve visualized how you will meet those goals. So far, so good. Things are going pretty well.

Then something changes. You wind up having fewer customers than anticipated. That chocolate cake looked SO good and you purchased 3 of them to eat over the last couple of weeks. Circumstances change. People come, people leave, and people change their minds. This is why it is important to review your goals on a regular basis.

Sometimes you may need to review your goals every day. Weekly or monthly reviews may be suitable for long-term goals that you’re trying to meet. There aren’t any set rules to follow when it comes to a goal review, but whenever you feel like circumstances have changes, it is a good idea to take a new look at your goals.

The review process allows you an opportunity to make changes to your goals if necessary so you can stay on the right path. Don’t dread the review process. It adds more work to the achievement process, but it is also a goal setting strategy that can make your life a whole lot easier.

#5. Be passionate about the goals you are setting.

Many of us set goals at the beginning of a new year. We call them “resolutions.” The only problem is that before the end of January rolls around, 3 out of 4 people will have abandoned their resolution. Why is that?

In a word: passion.

We must have more than a profound reason to set a goal. There must be a passion behind the goal setting process to help it take hold. You might feel like there’s a need to lose 35 pounds this year, but are you passionate about embracing the lifestyle changes that may be necessary?

This applies to goals set at work as well. If you’re not passionate about achieving something, then it will be a struggle to stay the course. As you set goals, check-in with your passions. Pursue what you love. This will help you be able to put in the daily work that will be needed for success.

#6. Create a foundation to experience success.

Short-term goals are easy to track because you either succeed or you do not. Long-term goals are a trickier proposition. You might have a bad day and not make as much progress, but then you might have a day where you get 3x the amount of work done compared to your usual day. How can you gauge your progress with this inconsistency?

Long-term goals need milestones to help you track your progress. When you reach a milestone, you experience the reward of success. This can motivate you to work toward the next milestone. These milestones must be guideposts that keep you moving in the right direction. Here’s how you can use them to create a foundation to experience success.

  • Divide a long-term goal into manageable short-term goals so you can see forward movement.
  • Understand what work will be required each day by creating to-do lists.
  • Prioritize difficult tasks or milestones first so that you can work on them when your energy levels are at their highest.

When you see yourself moving in the right direction, it’s easier to keep putting one foot in front of the other and continue on with your journey. Each step you take is a milestone when working toward a long-term goal. Make sure you recognize this effort so you don’t feel like those long-term goals are floating out of reach.

#7. Be selective about who knows.

Accountability can be a good thing when people you trust are aware of the goals you have set. Sometimes going public with your goals, however, can also be a bad thing. There will always be negative people in this world who will try to drag you down. Misery loves company, so these people will be highly critical of your work toward the goals you’ve set.

They can’t reach their goals, so why should you be able to reach yours? That’s not fair – at least in their perception.

Being selective about who knows what you’re doing to reach a goal might feel like you’re isolating sometimes, but even that’s not a bad thing. Isolating from the toxic people who would want to see you fail will eliminate the negative energy which might prevent you from achieving a desired goal.

If you know for certain that someone will support you and hold you accountable to the work you need to do each day to achieve a goal, then bring this people into your intimate circles and let them know what you’re doing. As a goal setting strategy, the ability to bring in trusted allies to help you take each step forward is a benefit that cannot be overstated.

#8. Recycle and repeat.

You must have a plan of attack when it comes to achieving a goal. We know this, yet we often ignore this goal setting strategy. It’s exciting to travel somewhere without the help of a roadmap, but without proper navigational aids, it’s also a lot easier to get lost and not know where you are.

There must be a commitment to the daily work required to achieve a goal. We all know this. We’ve already talked about it. There must also be a desire to be a little bit better tomorrow than you were today. You must work to achieve progress. This means the recycle and repeat process is absolutely essential to any goals being set.

Here’s why recycle and repeat is effective.

  • It gives you a chance to learn from the mistakes you make today so they aren’t repeated tomorrow.
  • It creates a habit of commitment that will make you desire the hard work necessary to complete the goals you have set for yourself.
  • It naturally draws in others who have like-minded goals, making it even more difficult for negative energies to distract you from your ultimate purpose.

We must be meticulous about our efforts that we take each day to achieve a goal. Not every day will be perfectly productive, but we should be willing to learn from our mistakes and seek consistent improvement. That’s what recycle and repeat is all about.

#9. Track your data.

Many businesses are turning to analytics today as a way to set metrics and Key Performance Indicators. They are doing this because it allows them to track the goals they have set for themselves. We can do the same thing when it comes to our personal goals.

When we’re able to track the results we’re able to create, we can monitor our progress, look for areas of improvement, and discover our motivations to keep moving closer to our goals.

You might not have spreadsheets and data mining available for your personal goals, but you can setup certain tracking standards that will let you see movement toward a milestone. Runners track their time over a specific distance. This is the principle we must use to track our data.

Discover what is measurable about your efforts to achieve a goal. Set daily, weekly, and/or monthly standards based on that information. Then check on your data when you review your goals to see how you’re doing. Make adjustments as necessary and you’ll be able to quickly make changes if you discover you’re moving further away from your goals instead of closer to them.

#10. Understand your core habits.

We are creatures of routine. When something happens in the morning that takes us out of our normal routine, it can feel like the whole day is ruined. The same principle applies to how we achieve our goals. Our core habits will either help us or hurt us as we strive toward the goals we wish to achieve.

There are a number of core habits that are good habits, such as working out every day, eating healthy foods, and getting enough rest at night.

We also have other habits which may seem like core habits, but are more of a personal preference. You might like to have coffee in the morning before you get to work. You might like to have a bag of Skittles at your desk. Not having these things can also make us feel uncomfortable, but not to the extent a missing core habit makes us feel.

Our core habits are unique to each of us, so it is important to identify them and then focus upon them as we work toward our goals. This way we won’t be tempted to call it quits on a day simply because the coffee pot stopped working all of a sudden.

#11. Take advantage of the Pareto Principle.

The Pareto Principle is more commonly known as the “80-20 rule.” It basically means that 80% of the results you are able to achieve will come from 20% of the work that gets done. This rule applies in many facets of life. 20% of a company’s employees, for example, will do 80% of the needed work every day.

When it comes to goal setting strategies, the Pareto Principle will make your life a whole lot easier. That’s because 20% of the work you do to achieve your goal will create 80% of the results that are needed. This is why you always hear people talking about “working smarter instead of working harder.”

If you can locate what efforts are contributing to the 80-20 rule, then you can focus on these strengths to improve results even further.

#12. Physically write down your goals.

When you put pen to paper, something happens to the mindset a person has about the goals they want to achieve. Instead of the goal being a hypothetical situation that might bring a benefit or two your way, it becomes a very real proposition. You are deciding that you are going to work to achieve this goal.

Writing down your goals also helps you process the information you need to experience success because you’re forced to think in a linear fashion. You’ll also notice these benefits may appear when you take advantage of this goal setting strategy.

  • There is more clarity in each step which must be taken to achieve goals.
  • You have a resource to use which can draw you back toward your strategies if you discover you’ve gone off-track.
  • You don’t have to worry about forgetting something important.

It’s not always easy to write down goals because it means you’re making a commitment. That commitment, however, will help you raise your chances of achieving your goals.

In Conclusion

Not every goal setting strategy will work for every situation. Sometimes a combination of strategies will be needed to experience success. Sometimes one core strategy is what is required. This is where your personal passions, combined with the structures you implement, will be your best resources when working towards an important goal.

Make sure that your goals are achievable. Failing to meet a goal can be emotionally devastating, so if you set an unrealistic goal for yourself, you’re just setting yourself up to give up one day.

It is also important to give yourself deadlines when working towards a goal. Without a deadline, there isn’t as much motivation to keep going – even for those who are strong in the willpower department.

A goal should bring something positive to your life. It should add meaning in some way. Adopt the strategies that make sense for the goals you want to achieve and keep putting one foot in front of the other on that journey. In time, you’ll give yourself the tools needed to experience success.

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