11/03/2014 09:17 am ET Updated Jan 03, 2015

5 Steps for Successful Goal Setting


So much to do, and so little time to do it. That's a saying that held true for many of my life experiences until I decided to replace it with a new one: Begin with the end in mind!

Knowing where I'm headed is always helpful. I knew this when I drove a car; I cannot begin to imagine why I didn't apply the lesson to other parts of my life, too. If I want to drive to a new friend's house, I don't get in the car and hope I just end up wherever she lives. I ask for directions, or plug the information into a GPS. Turn right at Market Street... Pass the grocery store... Turn left on Pine Road...It's the fourth house on the left. Bingo! I find my friend's house!

I have now learned the same theory holds true for every project, assignment or goal I set for myself. I decide what I want to accomplish, I assess where I am in relation to that goal, and then I determine steps along the way that will help me be successful. Sound easy? It actually is easy to set up the plan. Achieving each step along the way? We'll see.

If you have trouble following through on the things you want to accomplish, try completing these steps:

Decide on the goal.
  • What do you want to accomplish? This goal should not depend on what someone else does, but what you are going to do yourself. Others can assist, but your own behavior is the only one you can control.
  • Be as specific as you can and state your desire as a positive statement.
Assess where you are along the spectrum.
  • If your goal is tied to weight loss, how much do you weigh now?
  • If your goal is to speak Japanese, do you know how the language is written?
  • What skills do you now possess that are required in order for you to meet your goal?
Present your evidence.
  • You have written your current skill level; what is your evidence? What can prove your "evidence of where I am now" statements?
Determine what steps are necessary for you to reach your goal.
  • List as many avenues as possible to achieve your objective.
  • Think about people who can be of assistance, even if you don't know them right now.
  • Create a schedule to devote to learning the needed skills.
  • Make sure you include mindfulness strategies to control stress.
Set deadlines to accomplish your goals.
  • Make sure you provide yourself enough time to achieve what you have in mind.

Carefully planning each step, being aware of what is involved in order to reach a goal, and sticking to your plan will give you the best chance of achieving your objective. Will you be successful every time? Probably not, but that will not mean you have failed. You will have the satisfaction of knowing you worked hard, made a lot of progress, developed new skills, and will be ready to decide whether to keep trying for this goal, or decide what's next on your personal agenda.

After all, you do know how to do it now.

Dr. Wolbe can be contacted via her website at