How To Set Your Goals – Your 5 Step Plan


How would you feel if you could prioritize and accomplish your goals in just five minutes a day? Can that be done? Life goals? Career goals? Self-improvement goals, in just five minutes a day? The answer is yes, big time.

Look around you. Every person you see on the street and everyone that you surround yourself with has their own dreams, personal goals, and aspirations. Some people are able to successfully accomplish those dreams, making their goals a reality in life and feeling accomplished. Others get stuck in their current reality, far from accomplishing the goals they create, while their dreams remain dreams.

The primary difference between those who manage to turn their dreams into reality and those who do not is strategy. Only by mastering this strategy can you transform your life and keep yourself focused on what matters to you the most.

Let’s take a look at how to set goals using these 5 steps.

Table of Contents

What are Goals and Why Are They Important?

Goals are objectives that you aim to achieve, both in life and business. They provide direction, focus, and motivation in your life. When you set goals, you are essentially giving yourself something to strive for, something that will help you grow and develop as a person.

Goals at work or in business are objectives that an organization or individual aims to achieve. They can be broad and long-term, or specific and short-term. Goals are important because they provide direction, focus, and motivation. They also help to measure progress and track success. These can either be team goals or just individual ones.

Goals play a crucial role in guiding and shaping your life, offering numerous benefits. Goals are a significant source of motivation. The desire to set realistic goals and achieve them can inspire you to take action. This clarity about your objectives enhances your determination and commitment to pursuing them. Additionally, goals are instrumental in tracking your progress. They allow you to see how far you’ve come, keeping you motivated and on course towards your targets.

Achieving goals also plays a vital role in building your confidence. Each goal met is a testament to your abilities, boosting your self-confidence and belief in your potential to achieve even more. Beyond these advantages, setting goals brings specific benefits in various aspects of life. 

For instance, career goals can propel your professional advancement, while financial goals are key to attaining financial security. In essence, goals are not just aspirations but essential tools for personal and professional growth.

What is goal Setting?

Goal setting is the process of defining the objectives that you want to achieve. It involves identifying what you want to achieve, creating a plan to achieve it, and taking action to implement your plan. One of the most popular ways to do it is to use SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound), but below I’m going to show you a few strategies that are much more efficient(and easier!).

How to Set Goals

Now let’s take a look at the 5 steps you can use for setting personal goals.

Step 1: Learn What Matters to You the Most

When you ask most people what their goals are, you are likely to get very general answers. We all want to be as happy as we can be, make enough money for ourselves and our families to live a comfortable life, be healthy, and feel good about ourselves. However, hoping to significantly improve your life in those ways will not actually accomplish anything. To achieve any kind of improvement, minimal or dramatic, you need focus. Focus on what matters to you the most.

Life is full of distractions. There is so much noise (metaphorically speaking, of course) in our minds that it is hard for us to think clearly; work, kids, chores, emotions, dynamics with other people, social media, fears, jealousy of others, admiration of others, problems to solve and more. How much time does that leave you with to stop and think?

The first thing you need to do is determine what matters to you the most. This will help you prioritize your goals and stay centered around what you consider to be the most important things in your life, rather than the things that the people around you identify with. Not your spouse, not your parents, not your friends, or your peers – YOU, and you only.

Take a piece of paper and write down a list of everything that you want in life. It is OK to write as little as 5 or as much as 20. Stop at 20.

Look at your list and next to every item, write a number from 0 to 10 to represent how much each goal matters to you, 0 being the least and 10 being the most.

A Prioritized List of Goals Could Look Like: 

Double my income – 10

Become more fit – 6

Spend more time with my kids – 10

Juice every day – 7

Buy a home within the next two years – 10

Someone else’s list could look completely different from yours, in terms of what items matter the most and what items matter the least, or they may have entirely unique goals. That is completely OK.

Next, take your top 2 or 3 goals, mark them, and write them on a blank piece of paper. From now on, these are your primary goals. The rest can wait. These are the things that you are going to focus all your attention on. These are the things that matter to you the most. The rule of thumb is to select up to 5 goals, but less is better in this case, simply because more focus on a smaller number of goals is more likely to produce greater success.  

Step 2: Turn Your Dreams and Aspirations Into Concrete Goals

There is a tremendous difference between aspirations and goals. Understanding that difference is the first step in turning a dream into a goal, and eventually into a reality.

The difference between an aspiration and a goal:

There is a tremendous difference between aspirations and goals. Understanding that difference is the first step in turning a dream into a goal, and eventually into reality.

The difference between an aspiration and a goal:

An aspiration: The hope or the ambition to accomplish something. A goal: An objective, measurable, and tangible target that you shoot for.

What we learn from this is that high hopes and aspirations are great, but they are no more than the initial step. Without concrete and measurable goals and a plan, your dreams remain only that. Dreams.

Goal setting has been a topic that always fascinated me. I wanted to know what others do differently that makes them successful in achieving their goals.

This year conducted a research and I surveyed 1000 people who pledged to make positive changes in their lives.

I’ve tracked their progress from January to June. Shockingly, my findings revealed that a staggering 94% of them dropped their goals by February. 

However, the silver lining is that the 6% not only stuck with their goals but crushed them!

One key element that the 6% did differently is setting realistic and measurable goals is setting clear goals. When you have a concrete action plan you have more chances for success. So, to set realistic goals means to define how exactly are you going to do it.

Instead of saying I want to save more money be specific: I want to save X amount of money by cutting down spending on shopping, this way I can save this amount by this time.

This applies to everything. How much? By when? How? Ask yourself this when you’re crafting your action plan.

Step 3: Set a Timeline for Accomplishing Your Goals

When you are creating your plan to accomplish a goal, it’s important that you set a specific timeline. A timeline that is both reasonable and challenging.

Our brains are bombarded with information to process, and our lives are loaded with tasks, big and small. Because of that, setting a tangible timeline to accomplish your goals pushes you to overcome your daily obstacles, such as being too tired, having a hard time focusing, having difficulty challenging yourself, or getting out of your comfort zone.

We are all guilty of finding excuses to delay and avoid the steps required to accomplish the goals we create for ourselves.

Setting a concrete plan with a timeline pushes you toward your goal because you can see the finish line and it is well-defined.

Would you run at your best in a race if you had no clue where the finish line was? Wouldn’t that be incredibly discouraging? Would you be able to effectively complete a project at work without a deadline?

Personal Lives & Deadlines Impact on Setting Goals

In our personal lives, we tend to neglect to set deadlines for ourselves and what ultimately happens is that life takes over and our goals get pushed to the sideline. No more! When you write down your 2-3 main goals, immediately write a realistic timeline next to them.

Do not say: ‘Become a millionaire within the next three months’. It would be unfair to yourself because that is unrealistic, and you would be setting yourself up for failure. It is OK to have big dreams, but it is not OK to expect to accomplish them overnight. The rule of thumb is to look at what is realistic and then push it up a notch, just to challenge yourself.

It is more reasonable to say, ‘lose 2 pounds a week’ or, ‘become debt free within six months’ or, ‘save X money within 12 months’. These deadlines will serve as a constant reminder that you must use every day to advance yourself forward, and they will keep you focused and goal-oriented.

Step 4: Define the How

Now that you have a concrete and measurable goal and a deadline to accomplish it, you must define the HOW. You cannot decide to figure out the HOW as you go. It would be unfair to you. Bear in mind just how busy you are, and how bombarded your brain is with tasks and information. The HOW must be defined ahead of time, so that all that is left to do is to follow the plan. The best way to create a HOW plan is to make it simple to follow and easy to remember.

Step 5: Don’t Let the Day Run You – You Run the Day

Every day is an opportunity to move one step closer to turning your goals into your new reality. With this in mind, there are many tasks that need to be taken care of.

If you make the choice to start every day by going over a Focus Pocus sheet and subsequently creating a daily task list (things to do, things to tackle, things not to avoid, things to check off), you will have better control over the day rather than the day having control over you.

Just like how you make a grocery list so that you do not drive home only to discover that you forgot the milk, you do not want to end your day realizing that you have designated major time to minor things.

Now that I’ve shared this goal-setting process with you, let’s take a look at what you need to do after you’ve achieved them.

What to Do After You Achieve Your Goals

Achieving a goal is a significant accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated and savored. However, once the initial excitement has settled, it’s natural to wonder what comes next.

First, take time to reflect on your journey and the lessons you’ve learned. Consider the challenges you faced, the strategies that worked, and areas for improvement. This reflection can deepen your self-awareness and improve problem-solving skills for future challenges.

Celebrating your success is also crucial. Whether it’s a small personal achievement or a significant milestone, acknowledge your hard work and dedication. Celebrate with loved ones, treat yourself, or engage in activities that bring joy.

Next, reassess your priorities and goals. Achieving one goal might shift your focus or present new opportunities. Reevaluate your aspirations and determine where to direct your efforts moving forward. With these new priorities in mind, set new goals to maintain motivation and continue growing.

Sharing your knowledge and experiences with others can also be fulfilling. Mentor others, offer guidance, or simply share insights gained from your journey. Exploring new interests and challenges is another way to grow. Try new hobbies, learn new skills, or embark on new adventures.

Lastly, consider giving back to your community. Use your skills and talents to make a positive impact, whether through volunteering, donating, or being a supportive presence.

Remember that achieving goals is part of a continuous journey of growth and self-discovery. Keep striving towards your aspirations and embrace each step of the process.

Remember, people have literally transformed their lives, their careers, and their finances, by turning their dreams into achievable goals and their goals into actionable plans. You can and will transform your life and career, too.

Picture of Dr. Michelle Rozen
Dr. Michelle Rozen

Dr. Michelle Rozen, Ph.D., is a highly respected authority on the psychology of change. She is one of the most booked motivational speakers nationwide as well as internationally, and a frequent guest on media outlets such as NBC, ABC, FOX News, and CNN on topics related to dealing with change in our world and in every aspect of our lives, so that we can do better and feel better.

Her most recent book, 2 Second Decisions helps people power through with their most challenging decisions through turbulent times.

Dr. Michelle Rozen consistently speaks for Fortune 500 companies and her clients include some of the most recognizable companies in the world including Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, Pfizer, and The U.S. Navy. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Psychology and resides in the greater NYC area.

Follow Dr. Michelle Rozen on LinkedIn

Check Dr. Michelle's Availability

Play Video