December 11, 2018 in Digital Organizing, Organizing

It’s almost impossible to believe that it’s now the last month of 2018; we’re on the cusp of a brand new year. During this month we often look forward to the fresh start that awaits when the calendar rolls around to 2019; often setting new goals is a part of this ritual. Goals are an awesome way of guiding your life and work in a desired direction but they can also be a source of anxiety and downright negative feelings. So how can we set goals that are truly inspiring? We’ll discuss 4 simple ways to achieve your goals that work

Goal setting through time

Cecil Alec Mace began the modern study of goal setting in the 1930’s writing on incentives noting that workers aren’t necessarily motivated by money but also by challenge. Goal studying has been the subject of much study in the intervening years up to creating SMART goals, or specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. In the 1960’s American psychologist Edwin Locke from the University of Maryland at College Park realized that another important component of goal setting is challenge. Goals that are too easy get no attention and usually are dismissed, while goals that are too challenging approach or surpass the limit of achievable.

Aligning goals with values

While SMART is a great framework to achieve goals, incorporating goals that present the proper challenge is better. Aligning goals with your highest values is the key that unlocks your achievement potential. Carson Pierce & Shahina Patel hit the nail on the head with their post to achieve your goals stating the number three reason goal setting doesn’t work is that external pressure creates goals that aren’t our own. You can read more bout their perspective on goal setting here. Establishing our core values can be somewhat daunting. When asked, it seems easy, but really understanding why you do what you do can be a challenging exercise. I love Scott Jeffrey’s approach to getting real with your core values. Take a look at his guide in this post.

4 Steps to setting goals you’ll actually achieve

1 – Determine What You’d Like to Accomplish now, in 5 years, and in 10 years.

Are you looking for a new position at work or perhaps a new career? Is your family hoping to purchase a new or first home? Whatever you want to accomplish in your life, take a moment to let your mind dream and dream big. Clara Moskowitz in her post “Mind’s Limit Found: 4 Things at Once” obviously states that the mind can only focus on 4 things at once. With this in mind, setup 4 or at most 5 goals to accomplish in 2019. The balance from this step go to 5 and 10 year goals. When you’ve spelled out all your goals,  run them through the SMART test. SMART is useful as a screening tool for your goals. You can read Moskowitz’s work here. This image spells out smart beautifully.

2. Connect Your Goals with Your Core Value

This is where things can get challenging. Let’s say you want a position with more responsibility at work, but the fundamental leadership of your organization is less than noble, you’d have a problem if one of your core values is integrity. Likewise purchasing a expensive home may be in conflict if one of your core values is being financially conservative. 

3. Check Goals for Challenge Level

SMART is a great way to make sure goals are plausible, but the often forgotten step is like Goldylocks. Goals shouldn’t be too challenging, not challenging enough, but be just exactly the right amount of challenge. You can have a SMART goal such as make it to Friday that’s Specific, Measurable, attainable, realistic, (who doesn’t want to make it to Friday), and definitely time bound. But it’s not challenging. Conversely, you could have a goal to compete in an iron man challenge. It’s got all the SMART components, but if you haven’t exercised in 10 years, the challenge level could be pretty daunting. Make sure your goals give you a level of challenging that will cause you to reach but not become overwhelmed.

4. Give Your Goals a Plan

Now comes the fun part. Putting a plan together to achieve your goals. The most important part of the plan is keeping your goals in front of you. If you’re a paper person, write them out and keep them where you’ll see them. If you’re digital, have them on your computer desktop and available on your smartphone and tablet. You can even create an image of them so they are the first thing you see when your device powers up. The important thing is to review regularly and frequently. Next, break the goals down into achievable chunks. If you want to purchase your first home this year, you’d need to connect with a realtor, get pre-approved through a competent banker. You might want to get really specific about what you will and will not accept in choosing a new home. You get the picture. In this step, it’s critical to break your goals down to specific steps. Recent research has indicated that achieving small steps is more effective than setting up tasks or appointments that are large and challenging can derail your goals. You can learn more about our digital organizing services here


Setting and achieving goals is one of the most rewarding things you’ll do in life. By connecting with your core values and making your goals SMART and challenging, you’ll be on your way to accomplishing and creating the life you desire. Leave comments and let me know some of the goals you’re planning on achieving this year.

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Todd Allan

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Todd Allan

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