“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” ~Andrew Carnegie

7 Keys to Goal Success

seven keys to goal successDo you want to change your life? Do you want to break through the barriers and achieve those goals that you’ve only been dreaming about? If you incorporate these seven keys into your goal setting and goal achieving strategy, success can be yours.

Achieving goals isn’t always easy; most goals worth achieving require hard work, diligence and sacrifice. Following these seven keys won’t make achieving your goals a snap—but they will definitely make it less challenging and help you succeed. I’ve been following this formula for many years and it’s never failed me yet.

Key 1: Decide What You Want

The most important part of any goal is deciding what you want. If you don’t know what you really want, how are you ever going to know when you get it? So, once you decide what it is you really want, you need to write it as your goal in a specific and measurable way. Saying “I want to lose weight” is vague and more of a wish than a goal. Saying “I will lose 20 pounds by exercising 60 minutes three times a week and by cutting out fast food” is an achievable goal. Visualize how achieving this goal will improve your life and include that in your goal description. You don’t need to be rigid, you just need to be clear about what you want to have happen, why you want it and how you plan to accomplish it.

Key 2: Break Your Goal Down in to Specific Steps

Once you know what you want and how you’re going to get there, break larger goals down into smaller “sub-goals,” the steps you need to take to accomplish your goal. This is especially important for big goals like losing a large amount of weight, writing a book, getting your degree or making a major career change. This step reminds me of how you eat an elephant: one bite at a time. You accomplish goals the same way: one step at a time. Having smaller goals that lead to your big goal can help give you a sense of accomplishment as you complete each one and help to keep you from feeling overwhelmed and discouraged by your “big dream.”

Key 3: Give Yourself a Time Table

When you get engaged, you need a ring and a date for it to be “real” and  “official.” It’s the same with goals—you need a plan and a deadline to make your goal “official” and achievable. Someday is not an acceptable deadline for accomplishing your goal. As we all know, someday is a mythical date, always well off in the future. You need a real date on a real calendar, whether it’s next month, next year or the next decade. If you are shooting for a really big goal, give your sub-goals a completion date as well to keep you moving forward and keep you on track for goal completion.

Key 4: Get Accountable

Find someone you trust to be your accountability partner. You don’t need to announce your goals to the whole world; in fact, some schools of thought say telling too many people actually lowers your chance of achieving your goal. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but it is what it is. One or two trusted friends who are willing to give you gentle nudges when you’re getting off track and who will act as your coach and cheerleader to keep you going when you get discouraged can make a world of difference in whether you accomplish your goal or fall to the wayside.

Key 5: Do It

Like the Nike ad says, Just do it. You’ll never achieve it if you don’t start. Don’t set yourself a start date months in the future. Take the first steps now, no matter how small—and keep going from there. The biggest hurdle in goal achievement after figuring out what it is you want is actually getting out there and getting it. The longer you delay, the less likely you are to begin, so get up and get going NOW.

Key 6: Review Your Progress

As you begin working toward your goal, there will be days when it seems impossibly far away. To avoid the discouragement that can set in with the inevitable challenges and setbacks, set aside time to regularly review your progress and see how far you’ve actually come. You may also need to take this time to make adjustments in your steps or in your timetable. Some parts may take less time than you planned and some may take more. A periodic progress review, both on your own and with your accountability partner, will help you to see that you are making progress and help you to see how you can continue to be successful. And, if you’ve gotten off track, it can help you get going again.

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” ~Andrew Carnegie

Key 7: Celebrate Your Achievements

Every victory deserves to be noted. The bigger ones definitely deserve to be celebrated. Don’t celebrate yourself back to square one, but definitely make note of your accomplishments. Allow yourself to take pride in your success.  And when you finally achieve that goal—you can tell everyone and have them join you in celebrating your success. Not only will it boost your confidence and give you joy, but your success just might be what someone else needs to set out or to keep moving toward a goal of their own.

Setting and achieving goals is integral to our growth and success in life. As Andrew Carnegie said, “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.”

And in the words of Zig Ziglar, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

What has been your experience with goals? What have you found to be particularly helpful or especially challenging? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

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  1. Great tips! These keys are indeed very helpful in achieving your goals. What goal has challenged you the most?

    1. Thanks, Lorii. I would have to say for me, it’s getting my first book written–but I am back at it and expect to finish writing before the end of the year. How about you? What has challenged you the most?

  2. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, and you have set up some good reminders and tips for achieving one’s goals. Great article.

    1. I feel that way, too, Barbara, and I have learned that it usually means I’ve either bitten off more than I can chew or I’ve stepped ahead of myself and gotten things out of order. Hang in there!

  3. Thank you for sharing what worked for you on the road to success. Most definitely implementable in all walks of life. I know you’re doing an amazing job, so keep on transforming lives!

  4. Great post, on a reminder to stay on track. I frequently set small attainable goals for myself otherwise I might find myself choking on that big old elephant!

  5. This has been so helpful. I really need to improve on pinpointing my specific goals and finding an accountability partner.
    Thanks! #sscnet

    1. You are very welcome. We could all use some goal improvement. I’m a work in progress, for sure.

  6. I love the part about accountability. I find it helpful to have a partner in crime so to speak. Take a friend with me to a class to learn a new skill, have a diet buddy even if they are across the continent. I have a couple goals that need reviewing and this was a great reminder. Thank you!

    1. Those accountability partners can make all the difference, can’t they? I definitely love having someone who keeps me going even when I feel like giving up on it.

  7. I’m working towards my dream using pretty much this formula. And I especially like No 7 Celebrate achievement because so often you get one step done and instead of celebrating it, you focus on the next step. Rewards and fun make the goals deliverable 🙂 Thanks for some great insights.

    1. Me, too, Mike. I think we should take every opportunity in life to celebrate. Why wait until the very end? Celebrating each achievement on the way gives us motivation and encouragement to continue.

  8. So true! I especially agree about celebrating achievement! I know that creatives can be constantly multi projecting and planning the next project. That’s why I like #sscnet as it not only improves our social media savvy it gives us all a chance to share our inspirations, successes and achievements!

  9. Melissa Mueller says:

    It’s like you read my mind… I really needed this! THANK YOU so much for the info! I see the light!!! Visiting from #sscnet

    1. You are most welcome. Good luck with your goal setting–can’t wait to hear good things!

  10. Thank you, Marie. This is such a helpful article and a great reminder as well. I especially like #7.”Celebrate your achievements.” It is something I forget to do. Great post!

  11. Excellent article! Such great and timely advice:) I am looking forward to sharing this with other Creatives! Great work!

    1. Thank you, Molly. I am glad you enjoyed it and hope it will be helpful for you.

  12. Great article – my husband just preached a sermon on this very thing!He used almost all the same steps!

  13. Thanks Marie for reminding us that it’s important to have a plan, write it down, revise it and put your stamp of approval on it. Then take the first step toward your goal. I work more efficiently when I have a deadline. All you 7 steps are terrific. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I need those deadlines, too, Diana. I am much more productive when I know where I’m going and when I should get there.

  14. As a life and biz coach, I can tell you that having an accountability partner is absolutely vital. Even in my exercise program (so-called!), I have an accountability partner. She keeps me moving even when I’d rather not. Great post.

    1. It does make such a difference when we have someone to keep us on track and on task, doesn’t it, Jackie?

  15. If I don’t set a start and end date for most every task, it will never happen. That said, I try to cut myself some slack when something comes up that was truly unavoidable and took time away from the task at hand. If it can’t get done by my self-imposed end date and no one is going to really suffer, I simply reset the clock with a reasonable new deadline.

    1. I am the same way, Beth. I need a deadline. Open-ended is dead-ended for me. But I also know that life gets in the way and that sometimes things take longer than you might think. So, like you, I’ve been known to rearrange the occasional deadline here and there, when I absolutely have to.