5-Step guide to achieving your goals in 2018

It’s the New Year and the question on my mind and what I am asking everyone is “what are your goals for next year?”

The common responses I get are…

  • It’s pointless and a waste of time
  • They are the same as all previous years
  • Something generic such as “I want to lose weight”
  • I have not really thought about it

So I am here to convince you otherwise and provide you with a 5-Step guide to achieving your goals in 2018….


In this blog, I talk you through a 5-step guide on goal setting and how to flesh them out so you have a blueprint for achieving them.

Step 1: Devise your goal categories

Step 2: Create some generic goals

Step 3: Use the acronym SMARTER

Step 4: Evaluate & Readjust

Step 5: Make yourself accountable


Setting goals to achieve each year is not a new to me, however only recently have I added meaning to my goals so I can create a blueprint of how I am going to achieve them. Previously, I thought it was a waste of time, but I can honestly say that it has helped me to stay focused ever since and held me accountable throughout the year; this has made sure that I am progressing towards my goals and subsequently helped me to be more successful.

This should not be seen as a one-off activity to do in the New Year and then see what you achieved at the end of the year; there should be regular points of time where you review your goals and update them.

The 5-Steps

Step 1: Devise your goal categories

I subdivide my goals into categories. There is no perfect template for doing this and you should find a method, which suits your preference and helps you the most.

Here are some categories you may want to consider:

  • Financial
  • Career & Training
  • Nutrition & Fitness
  • Home
  • Business (may want a separate plan for this)
  • Miscellaneous

Step 2: Create some generic goals

You can start thinking of some generic goals for each category – if they are specific at this stage, then that’s great, otherwise we can get to that point in the next stage.

Here is an example

  • Financial
    • Pay off credit card
    • Save money
  • Career & Training
    • Progress into a new job
    • Do a CPD (Continued Professional Development) course
  • Nutrition & Fitness
    • Lose weight
    • Complete a 5k race
    • Attend the gym regularly
  • Home
    • Replace bathroom
    • Buy new furniture
  • Business
    • Bring in more revenue
    • Improve social media
  • Miscellaneous
    • Socialise more

Step 3: Use the acronym SMARTER

You now have some goals, which may be quite easy to list off to anyone who might ask you. This is usually the point where people stop, but how do you measure your success? How do you achieve such broad goals? How do you stay focused throughout the year and make sure they are completed?

This is where we refer to the acronym SMARTER…

Specific – what exactly would you like to achieve?

Measurable – how are you going to measure your progress?

Attainable – what set of actions do you need to complete?

Relevant – how is this goal going to help you?

Time-Based – when are you going to achieve this goal and what are the milestones?

Evaluate – how often are you going to review the progress made towards your goals?

Readjust – this is not done at this stage, but it is important to re-adjust your goals after evaluating them

I will take a goal relevant to the fitness industry as an example of how to apply the SMARTER formula to your individual goals.

Goal: Lose weight

Specific – I want to lose 2 stone

Measurable – I will use body weight scales to measure my weight

Attainable – I will find a suitable diet to help me improve my nutrition & start gym membership for exercise

Relevant – this will increase my confidence and make me happier

Time-Based – I aim to achieve this by the end June (6 months) at an average weight loss of 1.5Ibs per week. I will start a diet within the next week and start gym membership by the end of the month

Evaluate – I will review this bi-weekly

Readjust – you may achieve the goal quicker than anticipated so you increase how much you want to lose

Here is another example, but unrelated to the fitness industry.

Goal: Save money

Specific – I will save £5,000

Measurable – how much money is in my savings account

Attainable – I will open a savings account and set-up a standing order

Relevant – this will help me towards saving a deposit for a house

Time-Based – I aim to achieve this by the end of the year by trying to put away £500 per month. I will open a savings account and set-up a standing order in time for the next pay (end of January).

Evaluate – I will review this monthly

Readjust – you may have less money to spare each month so you revise your target savings downwards

Step 4: Evaluate & Readjust

Make sure you evaluate your goals on a regular basis and try not to ignore them – even if it isn’t good news! It is very easy for time to catch up or for focus to be lost on your goals.

It’s really important to allow for flexibility and not to view your goals statically, as it may be necessary to change them to be more realistic or you may find yourself reaching them sooner than you anticipated.

Your situation could change or you may pick up some new goals that you may want to add.

Step 5: Make yourself accountable

Share your goals with your friends and family or post them on social media for everyone to see them. You are more likely to stay committed to your goals if you publicly make a commitment (Hollenbeck, Williams, & Klein, 1989).

Final Words

I hope you find this 5-step guide useful. I use this model with all my clients so I can develop a programme to meet their goals and we can measure how effective the programme is.

This is very important for clients to be able to see the progress they are making and to give meaning behind what they are doing so motivation is maintained.

Further Reading

If you would like to know the science behind Goal Setting and Task Motivation, then why not consider reading “Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation – A 35-Year Odyssey” by Edwin A.Locke (University of Maryland) & Gary P.Latham (University of Toronto).

Picture by Dominik Martin ‘Stepping in a puddle’

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