How to Set Better Goals

I’m a big believer in planning out my short and long term goals, and have used this goal-setting formula for years. If you’re always spinning your wheels and getting stuck in minutiae, then follow along and discover a better way to set your goals in motion.

Grab a pen and some paper, or open up Word, and detail line by line what it is you want to achieve. Let your mind flow — it’s more important to get everything written down. Let this sit for a day, and then go back to it again, because there are bound to be goals your subconscious mind came up with that just took a little longer to surface. Hopefully, you have a decent sized list.

Second, go through each goal, one by one, indicating if achieving the goal is a “must”, “should” or “nice” accomplishment; and indicate the desired time frame (ex. “I must achieve this goal in 2 years”). File the “should” and “nice” goals away — achieving your “must” goals are too important. Organize your list of “must” goals by date, with the goals due soonest first, followed by those further out in time. You’ll now have a prioritized list of goals.

Take a look at your list. Properly set goals are measurable, specific and achievable. Making “$1MM in 60 days” won’t work. Nor does “being financially independent in 10 years”. As you think about each of your goals, quantify them, avoid generalities and be realistic. For example, “I must book 6 speaking engagements over the next 12 months” seems to pass muster. And it sounds reasonable.

Now break down each into bite sized chunks and tasks you’ll need to do to achieve the goal. Following our speaking engagements example, your tasks may include contacting 10 speaker’s bureaus, writing your bio, and attending 3 industry trade events over the next 90 days. You can further break down each task with due dates and measure your progress along the way. If you follow these steps for each of your goals, you’ll have a logical path to follow, and a much greater sense of accomplishment along the way.

As Robert Heinlein once said, “”In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.” Change the way you think about goal setting today.

Brian Farrell is a coach, helping clients achieve their personal and professional goals. He's also the creator of the "QA2 Method". For more about Brian, visit

1 Comment on “How to Set Better Goals

  1. This is great and really hits me where I am at the moment. I’m really good at making lists, schedules and tasks, but I’m really bad at sticking to them. Too often, I lose site of my goals because I get distracted with the daily grind. Between work, family, friends and the rest of life’s craziness, I lose the forest through the trees

    This post is very empowering. Thank you for sharing.