How to Set and Achieve Goals that Stick

When you start a new goal you always have the best intentions of completing it. However, it is very easy to get distracted from achieving what you set out to do. No matter what type of goal you have for yourself, whether it is to lose some weight, get in better shape, feel better, or finish a project for work or school, making a few changes can help you complete your milestones. In this article, I will be explaining how to set and achieve goals with ease.

One of the best approaches to achieving your goals is called the SMART approach. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based. Good goals contain each of these elements, so let's take a look at each element:


When you create a goal it is important to be specific. When goals are specific you are much more likely to complete them. When you are thinking of the goal ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is involved?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Where will it be completed?
  • When does the goal need to be completed by?
  • Which requirements and restraints will you come up against?
  • Why do you want to reach this goal? What are the benefits?

Many people fail at their goals because they look at them too broadly. For example, instead of making the general goal of getting in shape, be more specific. Set your goal as joining a gym. This allows you to easily know when you have reached your goal. You will know that you have reached your goal when you join a gym and have a gym membership.

Other examples of specific goals: 

  • I will eat vegetables every day.
  • I will stretch every day.
  • I will read every week.
  • I will go for a walk every week.


The next step is to establish concrete benchmarks to measure the progress of attaining your goal. When you are measuring your progress make sure that you stay on course and meet your target dates. In order to determine if your goal is measurable ask how many or how much. In other words, how will you know when the goal is completed?

If your goal is to join a gym and work out three days a week, you can mark each time you work out on the calendar. Make it a goal to work out 3 times each week for a month and then provide yourself with a reward.

Now, let's take this new criterion for how to set and achieve goals. To apply them to the specific goals we used as examples above…

More examples of making goals measurable (using the specific goal samples given above): 

  • I will eat 3 servings of vegetables a day.
  • I will do 4 stretches every day.
  • I will read 1 chapter of a book every week.
  • I will go for a walk for 30 minutes, 2 times a week.


After identifying your important goals, you need to figure out a way to make them attainable. If you plan out your steps any goal that you set for yourself should be able to be completed.

In the gym example, think of ways to motivate yourself to go. There will be times when you want to skip the workout, but if you remind yourself of your long-term health goals as well as how much better you feel after you work out, you are more likely to go and thus reach your goal.

However, you should not commit to going to the gym 3 times a week if that is not attainable with your busy schedule. Be critical of your goals. Set goals that you know you can achieve if you put yourself to the task. This is important if you want to know how to set and achieve goals that stick.


The goals that you set have to be realistic. If you cannot afford a gym membership, joining the gym and going three times a week is not realistic. However, you can alter your goal to walking in your neighborhood three times a week, which is realistic for your current situation.


It is important to set a time frame for your goal. If there is no time frame there is not a sense of urgency. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, set a time that you want to lose it by. This will help motivate you to lose weight. Setting an amount of weight to lose along with your goal of working out 3 times each week can be beneficial as you will have a time frame for losing weight and will also be more motivated to meet your goal of working out 3 times each week.

Setting goals in life are extremely important and using the SMART method can help you on your way. If you need further motivation for reaching your goals, a wellness coach will be able to help you along the way. Hope this method was helpful in learning how to set and achieve goals that stick.



Vanessa Pruitt, PLMHP, MS