How to Set Goals that Lead to Real Results


By Jinny S.Ditzler

Now that September’s here, two-thirds of 2017 is already gone. Yikes! Time to consider how you’re doing on your New Year’s Resolutions ~ or whatever you really meant to accomplish this year. The good news is that September brings the back-to-school energy that’s still with us. If you’re ready to make progress on what matters most to you, here’s what I’ve learned about setting goals in a way that not only brings clarity and motivation ~ but the results you’ve always wanted.

Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, recently studied the art and science of goal setting. She worked with 267 people from all over the world, all walks of life. What did she learn?

A Harvard Business study nearly 40 years ago, found that 3% of their MBA students earned way more money than the rest because they had written goals and followed through.

A long time ago a New York taxi driver was telling me about his kids and how proud he was of them. The secret? “I’ve told them over and over again that if they don’t have a plan and goals that they’ll be no better than a used newspaper blowing down the street, going nowhere.” Perfectly said. Like the newspaper we’re flying around busily getting things done, meanwhile telling ourselves that before long we’re going to get around to the important stuff.

How to Set Goals that Lead to Real Results

One of my goals for this year is to write my new book, and I haven’t made nearly enough progress so far. But now I’m diving in, making time for writing several times a week, and feeling much better!

1. Write your goals as specifically as possible. This step is essential because if you don’t know exactly where the target is, how can you hit it? For example, a goal might be to spend more quality time with your kids. Good one, but not specific enough. How much more success will you have with these kinds of goals?

  • Read to each child at least 5 times a week.
  • Have a special day with each child once a month.

If you’re writing your most important goals for a year, have no more than 10 goals. When I did my first plan 38 years ago, I had over 100 goals ~ a miraculous year, but my plan lacked focus and less than 20% were achieved. If your goals are for between now and the end of the year, then have only three or four.

2. Balance your long- and short-term goals. You may want to write a book, which ideally you’d like to finish next year. Your goal for the end of this year might be to take a writing class, network to find an agent, or do a mind map of the book. Some of your goals are gigantic, but what you do today or this week can move you toward your long-term goals. As I always say to my clients,

Eat the elephant bite by bite!

3. Find an accountability partner. This person can be a friend, family member, or colleague ~ anyone who believes in you and knows who you are. Someone whom you’d like to report to regularly on how you did on your goals for the week or month. Keeping my word with myself has always been a challenge, but when I have an accountability partner, I produce real results.


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