How To Set Goals: A Step By Step Guide

Sometimes setting goals isn’t as easy as just saying you’re going to do something. It helps to have a plan. That way you can get clear on what you want and how you can get there.

Keep reading to see how to set goals, a step by step action guide to help you reach your goals.

If you like this post, check out more amazing ideas from our doable Goal Setting for Moms blog post.

woman writing a note drinking coffee; action plan to reach your goals

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But first a story…

When I was younger I used to think that super awesome things only happened to people who had a lot of money, or knew the right people, or were just plain lucky. I always had big dreams,  but I never knew how I could make them happen. How could an average person like me make my big dreams happen? How could I ever get that lucky?

But does it really have anything to do with luck? I always remember a quote I heard on Oprah years ago, “luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.” So in order to get what you want, you have to be prepared so that when the opportunity comes around you are ready to take it. 

Something else I have noticed over the years is that anyone can make their dreams happen. But you have to have the drive and determination to keep going even in the face of rejection. Even when you keep hearing no after no after no. Even when it gets really hard. The people that make their goals happen Just. Keep. Going.

woman writing at table with coffee

Back in 2010 right in the midst of the economic recession, we had this brilliant idea to quit our jobs, pack up everything and move to another city. Now looking back I can definitely say we weren’t the brightest crayons in the box, lol. After a year of not being able to get a job, we were barely scraping by, just short of being evicted every month. It was the scariest and hardest time of my life.

So I decided to do something about it. I went back to school to become a nurse. Little did I know, the hardest times of my life were yet to come. Because let me tell you, nursing school is no joke! It’s hard to get into and even harder to make it through. But I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had to make this work for me and my family. So I put my head down and studied day and night until I passed my board exam. 

So why am I telling you all this? I had a purpose for why I was putting myself through the pain of going back to school. And my reason was greater than any hard times. I wanted something better for our lives than to “barely get by”. When your purpose is greater than the pain, you will make your goals happen.

Setting Your Own Goals

So let’s get on to setting our goals. If you need a refresher on the basics of goal setting check out this article I wrote called “How to achieve your goals”.

Short term goals are goals you can accomplish fairly quickly, in a short amount of time. Today, this week, this month, or perhaps this year.

Long term goals will take longer to accomplish, maybe a year, a few years, or something you will accomplish in your lifetime. Having a 5-year plan is a great way to have long term goals to work towards. 

  1. Determine what you want to accomplish over the next several years. These goals may take you many years to accomplish. 
  2. Decide how long you think it may take to reach each long term goal. 1 year? 2 years? 5 years? 
  3. For each long term goal, determine the major steps it will take to get there. 
  4. Make each month one of the steps towards your big goal. 
  5. Each month work towards accomplishing that step. By achieving that goal each month you are getting one step closer to reaching your long term goal. 
  6. Re-evaluate what you are doing to make sure you are staying on track and achieving those milestones each month, and each year. 

You could use the plan above for your short term goals as well. But sometimes short term goals only take a day or a week to get done so you don’t need a long drawn out plan. A good way to get your short term goals accomplished is to prioritize them.

Plan in Action

So let’s say I wanted to go on a vacation next summer that costs $3,000. I would have to save $250 a month for 12 months. How can I get $250 a month to put towards a vacation? Save any extra money from my paychecks, maybe cut down on some of the monthly bills I’m already paying, earn extra money from a side hustle, or sell somethings I have to put towards my trip. 

Now every few months re-evaluate where you are in your plan. Are you saving enough? Are you on target to hit your goal? Did you hit a bump in the road that set you back? It’s good to re-evaluate so you know if what you are doing is working.

Check out the Goal Setting Worksheet in the Resource Library. Get access here. Use this Goal Setting sheet to help you get clear on your goals and make a plan to help you get there.

Putting It All Together

  • Figure out what your long term and short term goals are.
  • Determine how long it will take to reach each goal.
  • Break each goal down into action steps.
  • Make each year, week, or day one of the action steps.
  • Work towards accomplishing each step.
  • Re-evaluate where you are in your plan to make sure you are on track to hit your goal.

You can make your goals a reality! Put together your own step by step action plan to help you get there. It may get hard along the way but remember to just. keep. going. Remember if you have a purpose for doing something, you can push past the difficult times and come out on the other side reaching your goals.

Want to remember this post? Pin this “An Action Plan For Setting Goals” article to your favorite Pinterest board!

woman sitting at table write on a notepad and drinking coffee. step by step action plan to reach your goals