How to Set Goals and Achieve Them

Happy New Year, readers of Students Toolbox! Whether you are a student or a professional, new year is always a great time to start thinking about how you can set goals for growth in different areas, like school, your work, business, health, mindset etc. We have always heard that very few people can actually achieve their new year’s resolutions by the end of the year. If you are like me, you would have already failed to achieve a lot of your new year’s resolutions in the past few years. But this year we are going to make the change. And this can be done by the very beginning – by setting your goals in the right way. In the following, I am going to talk about how you can set your goals right so that you can achieve them. To make this post more helpful, I have especially made a goal setting worksheet to help you better understand yourself and plan your goals.

In this article, I am going to talk about:

  • Why setting goals is important
  • An awesome free online course that can greatly inspire you
  • Steps to set goals effectively
  • Some tips and tricks on how you can actually achieve your goals

Ready for some great tips and resources? Here you go!

Want to know how to start your new year right? Here are some ideas and inspirations on how you can set goals and achieve them, along with a free printable goal setting worksheet for you to fill in and plan your life/year ahead!

Why Should We Set Goals?

I have heard that many people find setting goals ‘ridiculous’ and ‘pointless’, mainly because they find that nobody sticks to their goals anyway. And I would be lying to you if I tell you that I have never doubted the purpose of setting goals. So why should we set goals? Why bother setting goals even though we may not be able to achieve it? Now, here are some benefits of setting goals:

  • It gives you clear directions and a purpose in life.
  • Setting goals helps you to know how to prioritize your time so that you can better manage it.
  • It prevents you from spending your day without knowing what you should or want to do. It helps you better utilize your time.
  • Setting goals gives you an opportunity to come up with a plan that can help you succeed.
  • This can help you to better measure your effectiveness and development
  • More importantly, by doing so, you are motivating yourself, and challenging yourself to achieve more and increasing the passion you have for life and work.

Get Inspired: Sign up for the Free Online Course How to Create Your Personal Space

Before going into setting goals immediately, I always love to look for inspirations. This can be done by reading books, searching on the internet, and more. In the past year, I have been thinking about what it means to successful and personal growth a lot, so I have been constantly reading books on this topic in hope of finding new and insightful inspirations. I have to say that the How to Create Your Personal Space online course by Concordia University Wisconsin has deeply inspired me. It is a course that includes three modules, namely “Grow”, “Connect” and “Encourage”. The course aims at helping students to know yourself better and what strategic steps it takes to succeed, which is great for people like me who are at their initial stage of setting their goals. This course is free, delivered to your inbox, and takes about 1 week and 3 – 4 hours to complete. The content is very rich, and it consists of essays, videos, interactive polls, and download journals. What is awesome about the course is that all content from this email course is taken from Concordia University Wisconsin’s 100% one-year Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership and Administration (OLA), which focuses on your personal growth and a leadership potential. As I take this course, I find it to be a great starting point when I set my goals and life plans. It gives me reasons why I should grow, connect and encourage, and it also offers me some directions to improve as a person. Whether you are interested in learning about self-help and self-improvement, or you are finding ways to be a better person, this course is definitely a perfect start for you. If you are interested in this free course, make sure to sign up here!


How to Set Goals Effectively

Now that we all understand the importance and benefits of setting goals, we can now move on to some steps for determining your goals and directions in life.

Want to know how to start your new year right? Here are some ideas and inspirations on how you can set goals and achieve them, along with a free printable goal setting worksheet for you to fill in and plan your life/year ahead!

1. Ask Yourself These Questions

While there are people who are very clear about their goals and know exactly what they want in life, many are lost and are not sure about what they want to achieve even though they want to be a better person. That happens to me all the time. By the end of the year or summer, I would always get so excited because I feel like it is time to make good changes. I grab my notebook, my pens, and I am all ready to write down all my new year’s resolutions and goals. Then, I realize I don’t even know where I should begin with. Throughout the years, I have figured out a way to not let this confusion stops me from setting goals and achieving more. And what I do is very simple. I try to ask yourself specific questions to find out what I would like to achieve in life. The question “what are your life goals?” is big, and sometimes taunting. But, when you break it down into smaller bits, you would realize that it is not that difficult to understand yourself and your goals. These are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What are the most important things in your life?
  • What kind of person do you want to be?
  • Who are some of the most important people to you?
  • What do you want to contribute to the people around you, and the society?
  • What makes your life meaningful?
  • If you have only got 6 months left in your life, how would you spend it?
  • What achievements do you want to make?

Answering these questions would allow you to find your goals, decisions, mode of thinking, your way of life, and your dreams. These can then help you to formulate your long-term and short-term goals.

2. List Out Areas You Want to Invest In and Write Down Your Major Dreams and Visions

After asking yourself these questions, you start to better understand your strengths, weaknesses, and the directions of your life. Then, it is time for you to think about what do you actually want to achieve. While writing down everything on your mind might be effective, it may get a bit out of place, and you may miss one or two things as you go along. Instead, I like to go for a more organized way when writing out my goals and plans. My favorite way of setting goals is to think about the areas I would like to invest in and work hard on. I do this by first drawing a mind map. Even though I am not exactly a visual person, setting goals and visions is always something that requires creativity and a free flow of thinking, and a mind map is perfect for this as it gives me very little restrictions. In other words, it gives me space and framework to write down everything on my mind. And that is exactly what we want to achieve when thinking about our goals. Before going into very specific for each category of goals, try to visualize a big picture. What do you want to be? Do you want to be happier, healthier, or make more profit? If so, you can write down happiness, health, or business growth as your major categories.

3. Break Down Your Goals and Dreams

Now that you have a certain direction that you would like to achieve, it is time to ask yourself what are the conditions for achieving this big vision. This is the time where you start to write down the small goals that can help you to achieve your big goals and dreams. Now, you should remember that,

  • The small goals are conditions for achieving the big goal.
  • The big goal is the result of accomplishing the small goals.
  • If all the small goals are done, then the big goal should be realized.

Make Your Goals SMART

When writing these small goals, following the principles of SMART would be very helpful. By SMART, it means asking yourself…

  • Specific: Does your goal indicate clearly what you have to do?
  • Measurable: Does your goal include a measurable standard that allows you to assess your level of completion?
  • Attainable: Are you confident that your goal is within your competency and capabilities?
  • Realistic: Is your goal realistic having considered the objective conditions?
  • Time-based: Have you set a time frame for the completion of your goal?

4. Give Yourself a Reason Why You Want to Accomplish that Goal

A lot of people tend to give up their new year resolutions probably as soon as February arrives. This happens perhaps because their schedule gets more packed, and so they find it more difficult to “squeeze time” for your goals. But these are probably just excuses. When you desire to do something so badly, you are often able to do it. If something is on top of your list, you would strive to accomplish that. So, the question is, how can you give yourself this sense of passion and urgency for your goals? My strategy here is to give yourself a reason why you want to accomplish this goal. Give yourself a reason to love it. Tell yourself what you want to do that so badly in the first place. In the start of the year, you often have a lot of excitement for the new year because you hope for a new and good change. Write this emotion down. Write down why you want to achieve that at the moment. Then, when time past and you start to get fed up with following the routines and goals, look back at the reasons you have written down. This will remind yourself about the passion and love you have more the things you want to do, and it will motivate you to work for it.

5. Remind Yourself of the Goals

I have talked a lot about writing your goals down in this article. This is mainly because writing your goals down is very crucial if you actually want to achieve them. In fact, many people start to give up their good habits because they forget their goals. Hence, making your goals to be visible can really help to both motivate you and remind you of them, so that you can act according to your dreams. Some ways to do that would be:

  • Write your goals down in the first page of your journal
  • Write your goals on post-it notes and stick them on the wall in front of your desk or bed
  • Jot down your goals on a piece of paper or poster and stick it in a visible place
  • Write the goals on a piece of cardboard or paper and use it as a bookmark of your journal

6. Make Them a Habit and Schedule Your Goals and Plans

You may think that motivation is the most important thing when you want to achieve your goals, but that is unlikely the case. The key to achieving your goals is to plan out your behaviors. In other words, if you want to achieve your goals, make sure that you plan specifically when and where to act. For example, if my goal is to plan everyday, I don’t just write down “take the time to plan everyday” on my goal list. Instead, I would write “plan the next day every 10pm on my desk”. By planning out my action, I have specifically listed out how I should execute my goals. Then, everyday at 10pm, I would know that I have to sit on my desk and plan for the next day before I go to sleep. As a month past, this would eventually become a habit of mine and I can easily stick to it as time goes. I can then engage in this desired behavior on a regular basis, allowing me to achieve the intended result. The exact same should work for your study goals – you should strive to develop good study habits. Therefore, if you would like to achieve your goals, try to turn your goals into habits and make a plan to execute them.

That’s it for Now!

Want to know how to start your new year right? Here are some ideas and inspirations on how you can set goals and achieve them, along with a free printable goal setting worksheet for you to fill in and plan your life/year ahead!As usual, here is a quick summary to conclude the key points we have talked about.

  • There are lots of benefits of setting goals, some of which include giving you motivation, allowing you to have better time management and to measure your achievements.
  • If you would like to get inspired (especially on how you can grow, connect and encourage), I highly recommend you to take this free online course: How to Create Your Personal Space online course by Concordia University Wisconsin.
  • If you are uncertain about what you want to achieve in life, try asking yourself some specific questions (as stated in the above).
  • List out the areas that you want to invest in and improve, and outline your major dreams and visions.
  • Break down your goals and make SMART goals.
  • Tell yourself why you want to accomplish these goals.
  • Make your goals visible by writing them down in your journal and sticking them on your wall.
  • Turn your goals into actual plans and habits.

Make sure to download the goal setting worksheet, and stay tuned to the next few posts of the “Start Your New Year Right” series, which include some great tips on organization and productivity!

What are some of your goals for 2017? Tell me in the comments!



  • Urva
    very helpful post,it just summarizes everything about goals in one place,thanks
    • That's exactly what I hope to share to my readers, glad that you find it helpful! :)
  • Hey Sabrina, What a great post, I think you've nailed all the steps to setting effective goals. The eight step graphic adds a lot to the post too. I think that it's also important to enjoy the process of accomplishing a goal, not just the finish line. Once you start to enjoy it, you'll be 10 times more motivated to continue.
  • […] Here, in this article I want to share with you 5 tips on how to set goals and achieve them. […]

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