How to Set Goals That Actually Get Accomplished

by Rebecca on March 9, 2014

The words Reach Your Goals in 3D blue lettering, encouraging youIt is amazing to me that I can go through all the rigors of professional school and accomplish my professional goals, yet getting my body composition where I want it seems to be completely baffling for me.

We all have our struggles and things we want to do better, but how often do we set goals for ourselves and get nothing accomplished or worse yet, we go backwards!

I recently heard about “Succeed-How We Can Reach our Goals” by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D.  I picked up a copy and came away with a ton of great insight about how to set goals that actually get accomplished.

There are many huge takeaways from the book and here are two that I think you must keep in mind when setting any goals for yourself.  The wonderful thing about these two is that we are ALL capable of doing these!

 “Planning when, where and how you will take actions needed to reach your goals is probably the single most effective thing you can do.”

 “Reaching a goal is more about effort, persistence and planning than innate ability”

At the back of the book, Halvorson talks about 9 things successful people do differently.  I wish I could share all nine with you now, but I am hoping these few ideas will be enough to wet your appetite to leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of “Succeed” or just pick one up for yourself!

 1. Be specific– so many times people will have a goal of wanting to lose weight.  Unfortunately, that is where most people stop and why year after year they never seem to lose that stubborn weight.  “Decrease my body fat percentage by 6% by 12/31/14” is a much more powerful goal than “lose weight this year.

2. Seize the Moment to act on your goals– decide when and where you will take action in advance.  Rather than say I will work out three times a week, a better approach is to say- I will work out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 30 minutes immediately after work.  Amazingly, this type of specific planning has been shown to increase success by about 300% (that is not a typo).

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go.  It is so easy to become distracted by life and lose sight of the goals you set for yourself.   With regards to my body composition goals- I track my measure measurements every other Sunday that way I know if I need to change things up or hopefully I receive some affirmation that I am headed in the right direction.

4. Don’t tempt fate.  Willpower is limited and if you are overly stressed you will succumb to the doughnuts in the break room.  Also, don’t try to take on two challenging tasks at once if at all possible.  Combining quit smoking with losing weight is doomed for failure.  Figure out what is currently most important to you and start with that.  Personally, I would suggest to focus on quit smoking before losing weight!

I hope these suggestions will help you set and reach all the goals you have!

 What is the biggest struggle you have when it comes to goals- getting started or maintaining them?  Leave us a comment below and you will be entered to win a copy of “Succeed”.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Ken March 9, 2014 at 9:02 am

Too many things on my plate….hard to remember that to eat an elephant, you have to do it one bite at a time.

I try to use SMART goals, but the T (time sensitive) often gets lost in the thick of thin things.

I also still draw heavily on Covey and his The 7 Habits of High Effective People and First Things First books.


Rebecca March 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Yes love Covey’s stuff! One thing that has helped me is doing a weekly review- I do this Sunday mornings and gives me time to see what I got done and what needs to be at the top of the list for this week. I give myself a master list of 3-4 things I MUST get done that week and then if it fell through the cracks that week I will move it to the next week. I really love the weekly review because it keeps me from forgetting about something I really wanted to get done- with all those plates spinning like most of us that is the trick!

Thanks so much for commenting!


Lauren Orvin March 9, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Absolutely maintaining them! I set big goals, I make a master list, but the small steps in between are my major hurdle. I think defining the when, where, and how to accomplish my goals will help a ton! Especially when the goal is HUGE.


Rebecca March 9, 2014 at 4:28 pm

See above- the time thing is so big and that is where I really like the weekly review- usually if I didn’t get something done one week that needs to get done- by seeing that I didn’t accomplish it helps me remain on track! Also an accountability partner or coach can go along way. I know there is NO WAY I would have accomplished as much without my coach!


Marie March 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Definitely keeping the goal. I have long lists of goals. I have heard the advise you mentioned about setting firm well defined goals. Putting them into writing. I have the problem of making my goals a priority. I have the incorrect tendency to put work or something occurring at the immediate moment to take preference over working on a longer term goal. For me, immediate accomplishment wins out over things that take time!!!


Rebecca March 9, 2014 at 4:31 pm

No doubt I like that instant gratification too! Again I know I keep saying it but taking my big goals and breaking them down into what I want to accomplish this week -NO MORE than 3 or 4 things goes along way towards making those baby steps! The thing that is great about the weekly review is it gives me the instant gratification of knowingYES I did actually accomplish something this week. The other thing it can do is help you decide what you can delegate and what ONLY YOU CAN DO. The more you do this I bet you will find more you can delegate which is always a good thing!


Emily March 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm

I read James Clear’s books that you recommended not too long ago and I found his methods the best for achieving my long term goals. I’ve discovered that by following his philosophies of creating the good habit first and setting an identity-based goal (i.e. I am a person that does not miss workouts and I go to the gym on ______ day @ ________ time) instead of an appearance based goals (i.e. I want to lose ____lbs by______date) keeps me on track. By first creating the habit, I started small…I went to the gym one day a week for 30 minutes and then worked up from there; currently (a month later from when I started) I go a minimum of 3 times a week for 45 minutes + I attend 1 group class each week. I also go not because I always want to but because I’ve made it a habit. I schedule the times I want to go for the week on my phone every Monday morning [ actually, I’ve already tentatively scheduled the times in for the year but at the start of each week I look at the classes for the week and rearrange based on those] and when the alert goes off (my reminder) I switch into my gym clothes, grab my gym gear and go workout (my routine) and afterwards I always reward myself (currently it’s eating an apple with low fat caramel dip!). And by physically scheduling it, it’s built into my calendar (duh, right!) but this means I schedule the other things I want to do around it and don’t find excuses for not going. It’s no longer about having the willpower to go — it is now a habit I’ve created. And he’s right, if I am the type of person that goes to the gym regularly then I will lose the weight I want to lose. And by not putting a set time on it I don’t get discouraged and quit if I don’t reach it “in time”. I still check my weight regularly, and seeing the overall downward trend does help, but by taking the pressure off of when I have to lose it by I find myself celebrating as each pound melts away instead of stressing that it’s “not enough”!


Rebecca March 11, 2014 at 9:05 am

This is great! That is exactly right and it is crazy because it actually works!

Thanks for sharing!


Jenny Nichols March 14, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Ha! I can’t get started OR maintain goals! I easily get distracted and side-tracked. I am definitely habit-driven. I’ve been successful getting housework done by taking baby steps and maintaining habits (many of which I now need to re-boot, especially meal planning…ugh). I’ve never taken a habit-making approach to the problem of not taking care of myself and working out, but now I really want to try it! However, I think my next habit needs to be a weekly review so maybe I can not only set some goals but see what’s working and what isn’t.


rebecca March 15, 2014 at 6:31 am

HABITS are the key. Two things have really helped me- 1. Creating my Life Blueprint- which is basically figuring out what I want my life to be- my relationships, business etc. after coming up with that I then create the HABITS that make that happen for me.

2. Like you said the weekly review then allows me to see what have done that week to further where I want my life to be or what I need to do better next week.

WE will soon be offering a GETTING YOU STARTED ON THE BEST PATH- package on the site which will allow you to take a DISC profile AND you will get a personalized CatalystVETS life blueprint that I will walk you though so YOU can create the habits to CREATE the life you want for YOU.

Let me know if you are interested in this! I would be happy to help!

Reply August 10, 2014 at 11:50 pm

Great delivery. Soound arguments. Keep up the good spirit.


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