The 6 Necessary Steps to Effective Goal Setting

With 2017 right around the corner, goal setting is about to become everyone’s favorite hobby. It’s important to use this time to plan ahead and get your goals in place so you can take off running in the new year. But if you don’t have the right steps to get the ball rolling, you could be in danger of repeating the same mistakes you make year in and year out.

Fortunately, we’ve put together a few steps that should help you keep you goal setting on track. Take a look and start 2017 on the right foot.

Brainstorm Without Commitment

Over the course of a week or two, begin the goal-planning process by jotting down notes whenever a goal comes to mind. It could be anything from “learn to speak Spanish” to “expand into four new markets this year.” Don’t judge or commit, instead, write down anything that comes to mind during that timeframe and you’ll be surprised what you come up with.

Edit Your Notes

After your notes are compiled, go back and reflect on what you wrote. Spend time on each note and determine whether you really want to accomplish that idea. Continue to do this until the list is edited to include only the goals you truly desire to tackle. Part of this process is determining what is really a priority and making sure that no goal is motivated by an outside influence. 

Look at the Bigger Picture and Find Mantras

Once the list is narrowed down, step away from it and brainstorm single words that describe the way you want to characterize your life that year. Make a long list of descriptive words and then go through the same editing process as with your brainstorm notes. Ultimately select four to six words and use them like mantras to help shape the way the year will feel. Some past mantras have included peace, joy, love, freedom, adventure, and growth.

Organize and Integrate Lists

These mantras are used to help me break my goals into sections. If this feels disjointed, try to do it by category: work, travel, relationships, finances, health, and so on. By organizing the goals and using the mantras as macro-level narratives, it can help you to see how some of them can integrate and work together.


Take the list – now divided into categories with mantras and goals – and write it out as a narrative. This part is essential because it allows you to visualize the embodiment of them more holistically, as they would play out in reality. Since nothing exists in a vacuum, it’s important to see how one goal category impacts another, and what a full life would look and feel like when these are achieved. 

Create a Vision Board

If you feel up for an extra step, pair this written process with vision boarding. While there are ways to do it online, it might be easier to collect a large stack of magazines and cut and paste the old-fashioned way. Begin to gather words and images that resonate with your goals and mantras, and keep the vision board in your office. You’ll be amazed when you look closely after some time has passed and see things come to life that you’d forgotten were there.

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