The Essential Steps

“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” ~ Michelangelo

So, you have carved out an hour and you have decided to write your goals. It’s a good way to start out the new year. You have pen and paper. You have that precious hour of private time. Now what, you ask!! Well, here are some guidelines for you. Take this guideline and use it as a launching pad for your own goal setting. But, you know what? You can’t do it wrong. As long as you write your goals down—you have taken the first step. And it’s a big step.

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” ~ Zig Ziglar


Here’s the process: The How To.

Write goals in three separate, yet related areas of your life:

  1. personal and family goals
  2. business and career goals
  3. self-improvement goals

These three areas are so interrelated that it is difficult to separate them. How you feel about yourself—your physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental fortitude—definitely affects your work, which in turn affects your family life, and so on. In each of the three areas, generate thoughts about who and what you want to BE, what you want to DO, and what you desire to HAVE.


Once you have set your imagination free, once you have reached down deep to pull out your innermost self, write down what it is you want to BE, DO, and HAVE in each of those areas. Now, put these goals into motion.


  1. WRITE THE GOAL: Be specific. Remember: the mind must be able to see the end result of accomplishing this goal. The clearer your written goal—the clearer your expectation of results—the better the outcome. Write the goal in the affirmative as if it has already happened. Visualize what you want to happen.
  2. DESIGN THE PLAN: Outline the objectives or strategies necessary to accomplish the goal. Determine what action must be taken. What tasks need to be handled? What barriers need to be overcome? What resources need to be accessed?

Define all these things in a written plan: the plan of action.


Determine the person or persons necessary to carry out the plan and commission them to do so (including yourself). Assign responsibility. And, gain acceptance of that responsibility.

Remember to gain the support of an accountability partner. Report to that accountability partner once a week, even with a brief email or text about something you have done to move toward your goal.


Assign a time frame for accomplishing each task. This is key to overcoming procrastination. Determine when each aspect of a task needs to be completed. Your time frames may alter when “life happens to you.” That’s ok. Adjust the plan. But do not quit.

Set timelines and deadlines: short-term goals necessary to reach the ultimate goal by the designated time frame.


This step is as important—if not more important—than any of the others. How is it going? What have you learned from the proposed plan of action? Do you need to adjust your plan? Continue to do the things that are working and change the things that aren’t working.

Your goals may change. That’s ok. Keeping the goals written down lets you stay on track and allows you to make changes that are necessary and beneficial.

If you find you are not accomplishing your goal, look back at the goal itself and ask yourself, “Do I/we really want to do this?” If the answer is “yes,” then look at your plan of action and make necessary changes. Keep on doing what is working and change the things that are not working. Adjust. That’s fine. Quitting is not.

On the other hand, if you review your goals and you find a particular goal that you wrote down does not resonate with you any longer, it is just fine to put it aside. I’ve asked myself many times, “I wonder why I wrote that down? I really don’t want to do that.” If that is the case, then that goal is off the list!!


Educators and psychologists have long known that the key to solidifying good behavior is to positively reinforce that good behavior. Each time you take a step forward on your journey to success—when you take a step toward the accomplishment of a goal—pat yourself and your teammates on the back for that forward step. This reinforces your efforts. In working on your self-esteem, this reinforcement gives you a sense of satisfaction that you can do something and do it well.

Your efforts have been worthwhile. You get good results for your effort and feel encouraged to continue. You stay motivated.

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” ~ Pablo Picasso