How to Set Goals You Can Actually Achieve

Guest Contributor | Kara Perez of Bravely


I’m a sucker for goal setting. I love it. As I paint grand pictures in my head of what I want to accomplish for myself, I get a literal rush. It’s so easy to envision myself running a marathon and downsizing my house to a minimalist paradise.


But I’m an adult who has failed at a few of the New Year’s Resolutions I’ve set for myself, precisely because I fall for the fantasy in my head and fail to figure out a plan of action. That’s why I no longer rely on inspiration to get things done. I better organize my time and set SMART goals that have action built into them to actually achieve everything I want.


Here’s how to get unstuck and start crushing all your goals in life.


No More Than Four Goals

The worst habit I’ve had to break myself from is biting off more than I could chew. I used to be the queen of making endless to-do lists. It was like scrolling through Twitter, except with a bunch of hard shit I was expecting from myself.


Instead of getting things done, I was drowning in my own goals. Scaling back was immediately helpful. It felt like a cop-out at first; expecting less from myself felt like I was being lazy.


But eventually, I realized that pushing myself to do ALL THE THINGS ALL THE TIME was completely backfiring. I didn’t feel excited or challenged; I felt overwhelmed and sad. Having too many goals was dividing my attention span.


Plus, there was always something I could be doing, so I felt guilty for taking time off, anxious for not getting everything done, and I always had a reason for negative self-talk.


No more! I was driving myself bonkers.


Set four annual goals and keep your daily to-do list to just five things. Cutting out extra noise will help you hone in on what your priorities are, and will keep stress levels low.

It felt like a cop-out at first; expecting less from myself felt like I was being lazy.

Say one of your annual goals this year is to go to five countries outside the US. Knowing that you want to travel will motivate you to pay yourself first each month so you can actually go spend time in Chile.



Goal setting is all in the details. You have to know exactly what you’re trying to achieve in order to actually achieve it.


SMART is an acronym that breaks down into Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Sensitive goals. By fleshing out the details of your goal, you’re much more likely to reach it.


Saying “I want to travel more’ isn’t a goal. It’s too broad and doesn’t outline anything about the type of travel you want to do.


A SMART goal would be this:

“I want to go to Barcelona, Spain for two weeks this July.”  You have a specific place, a measurable amount of time to spend there, it’s an achievable and realistic goal, and there’s a timeline on when you want this to happen.


Now that we know where and when you want to go, we can look into hotels, food, and tickets to Barcelona to craft a trip cost. If you estimate it’ll cost $3,000, you can set up monthly contributions to a savings account now. Breaking down the big goals into smaller pieces allows you to take manageable action throughout the year. If you need more help with setting a SMART goal, you can get Bravely’s goal setting freebie by opting into our email list here.


Block Your Time

Time blocking has changed my life. Assigning a task to a day and time seems so simple but has jump started a whole paradigm shift in my life. I’m a whole new me.


I assign days and time to everything. For example, if your goal is to learn Spanish by the end of 2018, you can carve out from 7–9am each Tuesday morning to study and practice Spanish.

Once you’ve blocked off the time, hold it sacred. Don’t compromise it, because you’re compromising your goal.


Bonus: By assigning each goal to a specific time, you’ll probably feel less stressed. Knowing that you’ve created time and space to work on each of your goals means you don’t have to stress about finding that time, or feel guilty when you’re doing something else.



What are you working towards this year? How do you set goals? Share with us in comments.


This piece originally appeared on Bravely and is reprinted here with some edits. You can follow Bravely on Twitter or Instagram for more information about how they’re changing the financial industry.


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