7 Steps for Effective Goal Setting

In life, there are a million little sayings that people will say to try to keep themselves focused on their goals.

“A plan without a date is just a dream.”

“The best view comes after the hardest climb.”

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

These are just a few of those. Perhaps you’ve told yourself a few of these inspirational quotes throughout the years. Did they work?

Perhaps it’s not the tactics but the goal itself that needs tweaking? Check out these seven steps for effective goal setting to see if you need to realign your goals to be more achievable.

1. Use Your Imagination

The first step to effective goal setting is to identify what you truly value most. This may take some deep inner reflection. Think about where you want to be in five or ten years. How do you see yourself?

If your thoughts turn to professional achievement, you know that you should set goals that focus on your career. If your future imagined life is slower-paced with travel or family as the focus, adjust your goals to match that.

2. Break It Down

Once you’ve identified your end goal, you need to break down that large goal into smaller, more attainable goals. These goals will work as stepping stones to your main goal.

3. Be SMART About Your Goals

There is a goal-setting system that has been proven to have a greater success rate than normal goal-setting tactics. This SMART goal system is an acronym for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

When you run your goals through the above checklist, you won’t be setting yourself up trying to achieve an unattainable goal.

Instead of choosing a goal to increase your income, be specific about how much, make sure you can measure your progress, have an end date in mind, and make sure your desired income is realistic and attainable.

It can be difficult at times to know how much income you should expect.

This is especially true of competitive fields such as anesthesiology. Physicians Thrive can help anesthesiologists set a SMART income goal by providing compensation data they can rely on and make an attainable goal.

4. Write Everything Down

Have you ever had a great idea and then when you wanted to remember it, it somehow just disappeared into the many recesses of your brain?

Don’t let your goals disappear into this endless maze. Write them down.

Not only will there be a physical reminder of what you are striving for, but when you write something down, it becomes more concrete.

After you have written your goals down, be sure to have them in a clear and easy-to-see area of your home or office. The more you read them and consider them, the more instilled into your life they will become.

5. Get An Accountability Partner

It is always harder to let someone else down than to let ourselves down. If you enlist the help of a trusted friend and share your goal with them, you’ll feel more dedicated to your goal.

After all, now someone else is counting on your to reach that goal. They are in it with you, checking in periodically to see how it’s going. They are there to be your cheerleader when things get tough.

You’d be surprised at how much weight this can hold and how much motivation it can provide.

6. Draw It Out

It could be that you’ve got a good idea of what your goals should be but you just can’t seem to get organized to reach them.

It might not be that you aren’t ready to tackle them, but you may need to see a more visual representation of the ideas in your brain.

There are several different ways that you can draw out your goals.

The first is mind mapping. When you take your main goal and map out an organized link of subgoals with sub-subgoals connected into a web of ideas, this may be the best way for your brain to make sense of it.

Another visual organizer for your goals is a timeline. When you set your mini-goals onto a day that gradually reaches the end of the line (your main goal) it can help you to stay on target.

You can use flow charts, Venn diagrams, and even storyboards if that’s what works for you.

7. Check In

The hardest step is always the first. Once you get started on achieving your goals, you have done half the work already.

However, it’s important that you check back in periodically to see how much progress you’ve made.

Some new factors may have changed your goals. Perhaps you got promoted or had a baby. Maybe your goals have stayed the same, but the timeline in which you will complete it has changed.

Don’t be afraid to change your goals if they no longer serve you.


Setting goals is the best way to propel your life into your own version of success. Without something to strive for, we all tend to get stagnant and never really see any positive change.

These seven steps can not only help you set a goal, but they can help you set a worthy goal that will help you to create the life you want.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.