5 Steps for Successful Goal Setting


So much to do, and so little time to do it. That’s a saying that held true for many of my life experiences until I decided to replace it with a new one: Begin with the end in mind!

Knowing where I’m headed is always helpful. I knew this when I drove a car; I cannot begin to imagine why I didn’t apply the lesson to other parts of my life, too. If I want to drive to a new friend’s house, I don’t get in the car and hope I just end up wherever she lives. I ask for directions, or plug the information into a GPS. Turn right at Market Street… Pass the grocery store… Turn left on Pine Road…It’s the fourth house on the left. Bingo! I find my friend’s house!

I have now learned the same theory holds true for every project, assignment, or goal I set for myself. I decide what I want to accomplish, I assess where I am in relation to that goal, and then I determine steps along the way that will help me be successful. Sound easy? It actually is easy to set up the plan. Achieving each step along the way? We’ll see.

If you have trouble following through on the things you want to accomplish, try completing these steps:

1. Decide on the goal.

  • What do you want to accomplish? This goal should not depend on what someone else does, but what you are going to do yourself. Others can assist, but your own behavior is the only one you can control.
  • Be as specific as you can and state your desire as a positive statement.
  • Example: I want to compete in the state swimming competition for my age group.

2. Assess where you are along the spectrum.

  • If your goal is tied to weight loss, how much do you weigh now?
  • If your goal is to speak Japanese, do you know how the language is written?
  • What skills do you now possess that are required in order for you to meet your goal?
  • Example: I now know how to swim and, even though I have never competed, I love swimming laps. I swim about 45 minutes each time I go to the pool, and swim laps the entire time. I consider a lap to be swimming one length of the pool.

3. Present your evidence.

  • You have written your current skill level; what is your evidence? What will prove your statement?
  • Example: I go to the swim club six days each week during the summer; I swim between 35 – 45 laps each day.

4. Determine what steps are necessary for you to reach your goal.

  • List as many avenues as possible to achieve your objective.
  • Think about people who can be of assistance, even if you don’t know them right now.
  • Create a schedule to devote to learning the needed skills.
  • Example:
    • Find a swim coach to assess my current swim stroke, and guide me in improving it.
    • Call the swim league to find out about competitions in which serious swimmers usually participate, and what will qualify me to enter the state competition. Also, ask about deadlines I must meet.
    • Find an indoor pool where I can swim laps during the winter.
    • Get information about joining a swim league.
    • Create a schedule that will allow me time for practices without neglecting other responsibilities.
    • Make a list of what I’m willing to give up so I have the time to do this.
    • Use those strategies we learned at school to decrease stress and improve focus; I think I’m going to need them!

5. Set deadlines to accomplish your goals, being sure they are reasonable.

Carefully planning each step, being aware of what is involved in order to reach a goal, and sticking to your plan will give you the best chance of achieving your objective. Will you be successful every time? Probably not, but that will not mean you have failed. You will have the satisfaction of knowing you worked hard, made a lot of progress, developed new skills, and will be ready to decide whether to keep trying for this goal, or decide what’s next on your personal agenda.

After all, you do know how to do it now.

Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

Dr W




  1. I always thoroughly enjoy your writings and teachings!!

    1. Susie Wolbe - Author (Reply)

      Thank you, Becky! I appreciate that feedback. This article, in particular, was actually published in the German version of Huffington Post! That was a pleasant surprise!!

      I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.


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