9 Principles of Effective Goal Setting

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As we start a new year, individuals and organizations are writing down goals and planning what they are hoping to achieve. This is one of the most effective exercises. Studies have shown that people who write down their goals are 42 percent more likely to achieve them. However, writing it down doesn’t mean that you are going to achieve it. 

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You need to structure your goals in a way that increases your chances of success. In this article, we are going to share with you the nine principles of effective goal setting. We are also going to show you how to develop, break down, structure, and track your goals to increase your chances of achieving your full potential. But first, let’s talk about the things that you get wrong during the goal setting process.

What You Get Wrong While Goal Setting

According to Assignment Masters, lots of research studies have linked goal setting to living a healthier and happier life. And this makes sense. We all have in our minds an image of the kind of life we want. And working hard to transform that image into reality will naturally make us feel great about ourselves. The issue is not setting big goals, but we don’t consider all the factors that get into the way of achieving them.

  • Goals are an end: When people spend most of their time focused on an outcome, they are less likely to stay focused and motivated.
  • Goals rely on external factors: Most peoples’ lives are chaotic. And in most cases, someone will get in the way of our goals. This can not only demoralize but also kill our motivation.
  • Goals require willpower: It takes a lot of mental energy to remain focused on our goals every single day. Our brains get tired and lazy. And at some point, making excuses will become a habit.

Goals in themselves are not bad. You need to change the way you think about them to increase your chances of achieving them.

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Goals, Habits, and Process: The Three Ingredients of Success

If your process of setting goals involves writing them down and working hard to achieve them, your chances of failure will be high. If you have gone a step further by coming up with an action plan for how you’ll achieve your goals, that’s great. However, it’s not enough to get you to the finish line.

Effective goal setting relies on three factors:

What Do You Want to Achieve?

These are the results you want to see. In short, they are your goals. It could be writing a book or losing X pounds.

How Will You Get There?

This is the process. Or, the daily actions that you’ll take to get the results you want for instance writing every day or running X miles a week.

Why Do You Want It?

This is the habit part. They are the routines that drive your actions. The why section is the foundation of the goalsetting process. To stay committed to your course, you need much more than a goal and plan. You need to form good habits. 

Scientific studies have shown that 40 -50 percent of our day is controlled by our habits. The human brain has been wired to prioritize routine over novelty. If you have an unhealthy routine, it’s quite difficult to stop yourself from doing it. And this also presents a powerful opportunity.

what-how-why in goal setting

Focus on the Habit and the Goal Will Follow

If you’re for example a thesis writing service, forming the right habits will help you maintain a daily process that will help you achieve your goals easily. Instead of focusing on the goal and working backward, the best way to create positive changes is by starting from the bottom. Changing your habits will make it easy for you to perform the daily actions that will get you closer to achieving your goals. Consistency is key.

For instance, if your goal is writing a book, forming the habit of writing 500 words every day and building other habits that support this goal such as dedicating writing blocks, turning off your phone and social media notifications, and closing everything on your computer except your word processor until you hit your daily goal will enable you to write more than 180,000 words by the end of the year. That’s a 200-page book.

This process works for every goal that you want to achieve. Another great example is learning a new language like French. If your process involves studying French for half an hour every day, you’ll have spent close to 183 hours learning a new language at the end of the year.

9 Principles of Successful Goal Setting

Habits are what will keep you inspired and consistent as you work towards achieving your goals. But first, you need to set the right goals.

To figure out the habits that you need to form, you need to start thinking about the goals you want to achieve. And then work backward. To increase your chances of success, here are nine principles of effective goal setting:

1. Know Your Core Values and Set Goals That Are Aligned With Them

Before goal setting, you need to understand why you want to reach precisely those goals. This is an important section. And also, one of the best places to start. You need to know your core values and pick the ones that resonate with you. Your core values act as the foundation that your processes, habits, and goals are built on. Some of the best examples include creativity, achievement, leadership, learning, knowledge, recognition, and boldness to name a few.

Your values will show the type of goals that you are willing to work towards. For instance, if your core value is knowledge, it will be easier for you to attain the goal of learning a new language and building the habits and processes that you’ll need to get there. Start by writing down your goals to figure out which value relates to them.

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Focus on the core values in goal setting

2. Eliminate Goals That Get in the Way

Since you’ll have several goals that you’ll want to achieve, you need to prioritize the ones that you’ll work on. It’s going to be difficult to give up on your goals. Especially those that are aligned to your core values. Spending your energy on less-important goals will make it harder for you to achieve your most important goals. Start by looking at your list of goals. And circle the top five that you want to achieve. And then focus on them. Don’t think about the rest until you’ve achieved your most important goals.

3. Create an Action Plan

With your high priority goals, it’s time to come up with a plan for how you’ll attain them. While this is entirely dependent on your schedule and preferences, there are a few strategies that you need to try. They include:

  • Breaking down big goals: Take each goal and write down every step that you’ll need to take to achieve it. Then take each of these steps and break them down further. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a clear plan filled with goals that you can achieve every day.
  • Focus on the SMART goal setting system: SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals. Think about these factors and figure out how they are connected to your goal. What time do you need to reach them? How will you track your progress? Are your goals realistic? Is the timing right?
  • Picture yourself a year from now: Working backward is one of the best ways to define the steps you’ll need to hit your goals. Picture yourself a year from now. How are you managing your time? What do you wish you’d been working on over the year? Visualize your perfect day and how it helps you achieve your goals.

Regardless of the path you choose, your goal should be to come up with a clear plan of what you need to do every day to achieve your goals. Research studies have shown that you are three times more likely to achieve your goals if you make a specific plan for where, when, and how you’ll achieve them.

SMART goal setting

Picture 3. SMART goals

4. Reflect Your Goals on Your Calendar and Schedule

With your goals and process in place, you need to optimize the habits that you’ll form to stay on track in the long run. One of the best ways to do this is scheduling your habits:

  • Dedicate a couple of minutes every morning to work on your goals. For instance, if you want to write a book, spend at least thirty minutes of everyday writing.
  • Work on your goal when your energy is at its peak: Our energy levels rise and fall throughout the day. To increase your chances of success, work on your goals when your energy level is at its peak.
  • Make your calendar an accountability partner: Look back on the past months and figure out when you worked towards the attainment of your goals.

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5. Remain Accountable

After goal setting and during the process of reaching your goals, things are going to get hard. When challenges arise, you have to remain accountable. Telling your loved ones and colleagues about your goals might help you remain accountable. By remaining accountable every day, you will be constantly encouraged by those who follow your progress.

6. Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help

While working towards your goals, it’s important to learn from the people around you. You need not be ashamed of asking for help. Seeking help may come in different ways ranging from asking a friend to finding a mentor. Others find that going back to school to study is a great way to achieve a goal successfully.

Ask for help when goal setting

Picture 4. Ask for help

7. Set Difficult but Realistic Goals

Goals should not only be realistic but also challenging. After all, you don’t need to come up with a plan to do something easy. Goals should be realistic. Setting goals that are far removed from one’s abilities can be discouraging. Goals are supposed to keep you motivated. They should challenge you to boost your performance. You may not always attain all your goals. However, it’s better to aim high and progress than to aim low and fail to test your capabilities.

8. Put It Down on Paper

To set SMART goals, you need to write them down. An unwritten goal is a wish. And wishes cannot help you move forward. Write down your goals and schedule their completion dates. Writing down your goals puts you in the creator’s position. If you don’t write down your goals, you minimize your chances of achieving them. Write them down and place them somewhere that you can see them every day.

9. Optimize Your Work Environment

Your working environment has a major impact on your productivity and performance. Working in a place full of distractions can make it harder for you to build the habits that you need to hit your goals. Ensure that your environment has been geared towards improving your productivity and performance. Keep your work environment organized and always work with a list.

Measuring Your Goals

As you work towards achieving your goals, seeing how you are progressing will keep you motivated to stay on your course. The more you get closer to your goals, the more you’ll keep up with them. To track and measure your progress effectively, you need to:

  • Set smaller goals: Writing down the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goals is one of the best ways to track your progress.
  • Use visual cues: Visual representations of your progress will inspire and help you stay committed to the course. One way is to invest in a large calendar and cross off the days that you complete your daily processes.


Goals are not just about results. They represent the kind of life you want to lead and the type of person you want to become. Failing to hit your goals can feel like a failure. That’s why you need to shift your focus from the results and remember all the moving parts that you need to get there. Setting and achieving goals is a never-ending process. Strive to manage your time and energy wisely. And you’ll easily achieve your goals.

John Peterson is a journalist and writer at dissertation help with 4 years’ experience working in London magazine “Shop&buy”. He is a professional mini-tennis player and he has written a novel “His heart”. You can find him at FB.

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9 Principles of Effective Goal Setting was last modified: January 25th, 2021 by Martina Pranjic
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