New Year, Live Well: Setting Goals that Stick

coffee and inspirational saying about setting goalsMaybe you’re dreaming of change…or chasing a dream. One of the best ways to get to your goals in the New Year is to follow a smart map to your destination and stick with a simple plan.

No need to formalize your own goal-setting process with the kind of methodologies you might use to develop a corporate strategy—you’re simply trying to make sure you live well and achieve. But, it is helpful to have a vision of where you’re headed and what it looks like along the way, so you can create a plan with a purpose.

While a wish (which is a desire with no measurement criteria) and a New Year’s Resolution (which is a promise with no details to back it up), setting an achievable goal is more like a plan of action. It’s not only focused on reaching the finish line, it’s about the journey that takes you there.

In the long run, the greatest benefit we receive from pursuing our dreams is not the outer trappings of fulfilling the dream, but who we become in the process.
–Jack Canfield

Jack Canfield, well-known speaker and bestselling author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, recommends a simple approach for setting specific, measurable goals, which are also known as SMART goals1. You can use it as a map for your own goal-setting in 2018 and beyond.

S = Specific
Clearly define your goal, for yourself and so you can share it with others as well. Include details of your desired result. “Get healthier” is not nearly as clear as “Get a clean bill of health at my annual exam.”

M = Measurable
Include numbers, dates and other measures as part of your goal. In this way, “Get a clean bill of health” might include “including lower cholesterol by 20 points and lose 30 pounds.”

A = Attainable
Consider how to accomplish your goal within known constraints of time, money and skills. For instance, “Go to the gym four times a week before work and cut sugar from diet to lower cholesterol by 20 points and lose 30 pounds.”.”

R = Realistic
Bold goals are admirable, but know your path in life well enough to set realistic goals. As an example, if your elderly parents require morning visits and road construction is starting on your commute route, perhaps three gym visits on your lunch hour is more realistic right now.

T = Time-Bound
Target dates for completion of goals, as well as smaller steps, are useful: “Commit to Get Fit Challenge for 100 days.” Or, “Be able to do 50 perfect push-ups by June of 2018.”


When deciding on your goals and the smaller steps you’ll take to reach them, balance your To-Do list by creating a Not-Yet list, too. When we come up with interesting ideas that don’t quite fit in with the goals we’re working on right now, it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of the specific goal-setting clarity you’re striving for.

For example, you might love the idea of entering a triathlon, but first you need to train for optimal endurance, or heal your hamstring. Or, you might be determined to fit in your pre-baby jeans, but first you need to get caught up on sleep and build some lean muscle.

To stay focused on your destination, keep a list of the things you won’t be trying to achieve along the way – at least not yet. Even though they aren’t fitting in to your plan of action now, you can come back to these ideas and turn them into new goals in the future!

1. Canfield, Jack. “Goal Setting Tips for Creating Your Extraordinary Life.” Retrieved January 19, 2018 from

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