Step-by-step Guide To Figuring Out What Goals To Set

It’s time to set goals! But what if you don’t really know what goals to set? You see all the internet girlys setting goals and intentions, talking about manifesting and achieving dreams. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have it all figured out because let’s be real – half those girls are just posting those goals for the likes. 

Setting goals can be a bit overwhelming! What is important enough to be a goal? How do you narrow them down to only a few things? How do you decide what dreams are worth working on to begin with?! 

I’ve had all of these thoughts too. I still struggle with setting goals sometimes because I have too many ideas. You’ll see some gurus tell you to set only a few goals and others say set 10 goals. Some say to set quarterly goals and others say yearly. There are SMART goals – people will live and die by that type of goal setting. And then there are others (like me) that think there are alternatives to the SMART technique (aka doing it however you want lol). 

So, it’s safe to say that setting goals can be confusing for a newbie and there’s just so much information out there that it’s hard to sort through it all. I’ve been there done that and I’ve created my own systems that seem to work for me so I’m going to share it with you! 

Grab a pen and paper and let’s talk goals. 

Creating your vision 

I truly believe that you can’t set goals without having a larger vision.

If you are setting goals that aren’t aligning with the big things you want in life then what’s the point? 

Yes, there will always be small goals that you want to achieve just for the sake of achieving them (like my reading goals) but you SHOULD have other goals in life that will get you closer to your biggest dreams. 

So start with your vision. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years? Think about the job you’ll have, the place you’ll live, the amount of money you’ll have, the people you spend time with, the family you have, the hobbies you engage in, the places you’ve traveled, the daily routine you have… and so on! 

We all have dreams in life. For example, my dream is to be a full-time blogger and writer. I dream about working for myself and being at home doing it. My income is enough to sustain me and my lifestyle without worry. 

That is one of my dreams and you know, a couple of years ago it seems ridiculously far-fetched. I didn’t have a blog, I wasn’t writing, and I just didn’t know where to start. 

But that’s where GOALS come in! I set a few blogging related goals and just got started. Now a couple of years later I have a functioning blog, I make a little bit of money from it, and I have set more goals to move closer to my full-time blogger dream. 

It starts with the vision BUT you need to take that vision seriously.

If your dream is to move across the world and make a living off photography then by all means do it!! But if that dream is something you’d never actually do because you have kids and you don’t see yourself moving across the world and homeschooling them and being away from your family then that is not the vision! 

You need to be realistic in the sense that you ACTUALLY want to achieve that dream. 

I have a dream of moving to Hawaii but I’m not actually going to do it because I couldn’t stand being away from all my friends and family. Instead, I tweaked my dream by deciding I would like to own a home in Kelowna, BC one day (the closest thing we have to tropical lol). The dream still lights me up and gets me super excited because the vision and the vibes are similar. 

Step 1 is to create your vision, figure out one or two big dreams that you have and you ACTUALLY want to achieve, and then write them down! Go! 

Related reads:

Step-by-step guide to figuring out your goals

Let’s dive into the way I pick apart my dreams to make smaller goals so I can make real progress on them. 

1 – your dreams 

You should have your vision at this point. So you know what your one to two dreams are. 

What do you think a reasonable timeline is for these dreams? Are they 5 year dreams? Or 10? Or longer? 

Put a date next to them. Obviously, the date is tentative because life is unpredictable but this gives you a good idea about the timeline and when you should be working on the smaller, milestone goals. 

2 – pick apart your dreams 

Now, I’m not expecting you to have all the answers. However, you need to have a couple of answers in order to get started. 

Write a list of things that will need to happen in order to achieve this dream. Don’t leave anything out even if you think it’s dumb to mention (nothing is dumb btw). 

Here’s an example: 

My dream is to be a full-time blogger. Here is my list of things I need to do (not exhaustive):

  • Match my current income (or close to it)
  • Have a few sources of income – ads, affiliate marketing, freelance, etc
  • Figure out health insurance for self-employed people
  • Taxes
  • Need a new laptop
  • Take a blogging course 
  • Get more traffic to the website (like a lot more)
  • Grow Pinterest account 
  • Get support on the business side of things 

As you can see the list includes some big things and some smaller things. There’s tons more I could add but this gives you an idea. 

This is where your dream becomes a reality. Now you have the next logical steps to take! 

If you don’t know some things about what you need to do then write down “learn about X” or “talk to X about what to do next.” Learning is part of the journey! After all, if you knew everything and had all the answers you’d already have what you want. 

So break down that dream into a to-do list! 

3 – identify the long-term goals 

Out of the list you’ve made, it is probably pretty clear what items will take longer than others.

From my list, making a full-time income is a long-term goal whereas buying a new laptop is a short-term goal. Make sense?

Go through your list and make note of the goals that will take longer. 

Also, note the ones that might be part of a multi-step process. From my list “getting more traffic to the blog” is going to come naturally from writing more posts, taking a blogging course to learn more, and growing my Pinterest account. So I would consider that a longer-term goal. 

4 – prioritize the short-term goals 

When you went through the list and found the long-term goals you would have been left with the short-term goals. 

Maybe you even added some more things to your list as you went through the long-term goals and realized there will be some extra steps involved. 

Now that you have your short-term goals I want you to PRIORITIZE them! 

Which ones are MOST important to goal progress? You might not have all the answers to this again. There might be a little bit of trial and error and that’s okay. Again, if you knew it all you’d already have what you want. 

Make a list (I suggest a top 10 list) of things that are most important. Hold on to your original list so you can update your top 10 list as you tick things off though!! 

Next to each item on the top 10 list make a note beside with a date you want to achieve by. This is tentative so don’t stress but just give yourself a timeline so you don’t just stare at the list and never do anything. Self sabotage is real and she’s a bitch! 

By the end of the step you should have the following:

  • A vision of your biggest dreams 
  • A completion date for those dreams (tentative)
  • A master to-do list with everything you need to achieve your dream 
  • A list of the long-term goals 
  • A top 10 list of the short-term goals with the date you hope to achieve by (tentative)

5 – get organized 

The hardest part is doing the work to achieve your goals.

You’ve just mapped out everything you need to do so you’re already pretty organized but let’s take it a step further! 

To hold yourself accountable you are going to put each top 10 goal into your planner or calendar so you remember the tentative due dates. Then, when you are writing your daily or weekly to-do lists, add in one actionable item for those goals. 

For example, if my short-term goal from my top 10 list is taking a blogging course then I could put “research blogging courses” on my to-do list one week. The next week I could put “purchase blogging course.” The following week, “finish 2 lessons from blogging course.” 

See how that keeps me accountable for the goals without being too overwhelming? 

This is the secret sauce to actually achieving goals. You need to be consistently working on things. Keeping your goals front of mind helps you stay on top of them! 

I would suggest writing your top 10 list down somewhere you will see it a lot. That could be a sticky note that goes on your computer screen or the home screen of your phone. Whatever works! 

And of course, make goal-achieving fun by rewarding yourself often!

Struggle with being consistent or holding yourself accountable? You aren’t alone! Get some journal prompts to help you be more consistent with your goals and build your self-discipline!

Step by step guide to setting great goals
How to figure out what goals to set

Final thoughts

Setting goals can be a lot of fun but can also be difficult! When the world is telling you to be better, do better, look better, and so on, it gets a bit overwhelming.

No matter what everyone else says, your goals have to come from within. That is why creating a vision and having dreams is so important.

Ultimately, you can set any goals but setting goals you care about will make achieving them much easier. Think of the motivation you will have when you KNOW the work you’re putting in is going towards your dreams.

I hope this guide is helpful and at least gave you something to think about. My way works for me but may not work for you so tweak it as you see fit! All that matters is you show up for yourself.

What goals/ dreams do you have right now?

Until next time,

Deanna

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