How to set goals…and actually KEEP them.


It's January 4th. Raise your hand if you set killer-amazing New Year's Resolutions this year!  (ooh me! me! pick me!). Now, raise your hand if you've already crashed and burned off the bandwagon and feel like a total failure! (...crickets…) Hopefully not many of you. Let's call it like it is – the reality is that making plans makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The real challenge is putting it into action, and getting it to stick around for longer than 2.3 seconds!

In light of the Focused in '14 challenges we are all working on, I'm going to let you in on a little secret that will make you totally NOT suck at keeping your New Year's resolutions. You'll probably roll your eyes at first, and then once you try it and stick with it, you'll hunt me down and hand-deliver 62 long-stem roses by way of a sing-a-gram. (But just for the record, I'm more of a box of chocolates type of girl). Ready for the secret?…

Setting. Good. Goals.

Plain, simple, and undeniable. Any person who is successful in anything will tell you that one of the first keys of making good things happen in your life is to set rock-solid goals.

But here's the catch…

As great as it is to say, “I'm going to get in shape this year” or “I want to spend less money” or “I want to take a vacation“, we can't send a simple statement out to the Universe and expect results. Sorry to shatter your little hearts, but life doesn't work that way.

You've got to break it down and truly define your goal. What does “in shape” mean: 10lb? 100lb? A 6-pack and biceps for days? And “take a vacation”…what does that mean: Italy? Camping? One-week? 9-weeks? With friends? Family only? Fly solo?Catch my drift?

Give the poor little goals some credit, they deserve more than that!

 Here are 4 easy steps to writing rock-solid goals:


 (Don't worry, we've got a FREE PRINTABLE for you to do this at home!)

1. Define the goal.

The first step is to write a goal. Keep it general – don't add any numbers to it yet (patience, grasshopper, we'll get there…), just decide what it is you want to do. “I want to lose weight”. “I want to get out of debt.” “I want a new car.” Simple, but important. After all, how do you know if you're on the right track if you don't know where you're going?

2. Put a number to it.

Be specific. Be accurate. If you want a new car, figure out exactly how much you need. “I want a new car…so I need $1,200 for the increased monthly payment for the year since it's $100 more per month than I'm paying now, and $2500 for the downpayment = $3,700.”

If you want to get out of debt, do the math and figure out how much you need. Are you just wanting to pay off your credit cards? Pay off your house? All of your student loans, or just some? Figure out exactly how much debt you want to tackle this year, and set the dollar amount to it.

pace yourself

3. Set a deadline and work backwards

This is potentially the most important step. Many of us set the deadline as “this year” and go about our merry business. December comes along, and suddenly we're walking to Canada on an elliptical machine on Christmas Eve to make our goal happen in time. (Modern Family, anyone?)
The biggest secret of all is to set a deadline and work backwards, pacing yourself. Take the staircase one step at a time, rather than aiming to sprint to the top (and most likely fail, or nearly die while doing it). Chip away at it consistently each month. Keep the deadline within 12 months, and be realistic. Adjust the goal if needed it to make it realistically achievable within 12 months…but don't be afraid to push yourself, too!
  • If you want a new car say, “I want a new car, and need $3,700. I want to buy it in 6 months, so I need to set aside $617 per month.” Is that doable? If not, extend the goal time-frame. If you say, “I want to buy it within the next 9 months” that brings it down to $411 per month, for example.
  • If you want to get out of debt, add your debt up, divide it by 12, and say, “I want to pay off all my credit cards and student loans so I need $6,400 (let's pretend). I want to achieve this within 1 year so I need to put $533 toward debt each month.” If you don't have that much to put toward your debt, then make it a little more realistic. “I want to pay off my credit cards and one of my two student loans, so I need $1,985. I want to accomplish this in the next 12 months so I need to put $165.42 toward debt each month.”

Again, make it realistic…but also make it a challenge.


4. Determine your motivation…and focus on it.

Ok I lied…this one is actually the most important step. Why is the why so important? Because sometimes a huge goal can be daunting, and really, really hard to accomplish. Eventually you're going to hit a rough patch, lose motivation, and want to give up. The why behind your goal is going to be the only thing that will keep you going! So figure out what it is, and make it good enough to pull you through the rough patches. Why do you want a new car? Why do you want to get out of debt? Why do you want to lose 30lb?

  • “I want to get out of debt because I want to get ahead in life. I want to provide for my family and protect them; and I want every dollar I make to go directly into my family's pocket, and not toward interest.”
  • “I want a new car so I can safely drive my family where they want to go. I want a dependable vehicle that won't break down and cost us so much in repairs, so we can put that money toward a family vacation next summer.”

Be specific and dig deep!

*     *     *     *     *     *

See, it's pretty simple, isn't it??

To make it even simpler, I've created a FREE printable for you!

Goal-Setting Printable

Print it out, sit down with your significant other, and set some incredible goals this year. Here's what I recommend:

  • Print out 2 sheets – one for financial goals, and one for your other goals.
  • You should be setting at least one monthly goal, especially if you're following along with our Focused in '14 challenges, so print out one sheet per month. Where it says “Month” in the “type” column, just write in the current month. Then you can look back at your end-of-year goal review and see everything easily.
  • Some goals take longer. So divide up your goals throughout the year so you don't overwhelm yourself! Set one monthly goal per month, set one 3-month goal every quarter, set one 6-month goal 2x per year, and set one big 12mo goal. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Now, let's get out there and start eating our elephants!




  1. AvatarCJ says

    no problem getting here by “read more” from my email – I will keep track of it and let you know. Thanks Cj

  2. AvatarMeagan says

    Perfect timing! I’m teaching this on Wednesday to my Activity Days girls. Mind if I use your steps during my lesson?

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