Set your goal for success: 10 most important criteria to follow

If like the vast majority of people you’ve made some new goals for the year to come, chances that you’ll achieve them are quite low according to statistics… A US study showed that only 9% of people stick with their new year resolutions. 

To be part of the exception and not the rule, the first thing to do is to set your goal for success! It may seem obvious but if you haven’t entered the right address in the GPS, chances of you arriving to your intended destination are quite slim.

To enable you, you’ll learn the 10 most important questions to ask yourself when you’re setting up your goal.


Checklist: 10 most important criteria for goal setting


#1 ¦ Is it important to you?

The first thing to check is your level of motivation! Without it it will be difficult for you to put the necessary efforts, to change your habits and to go through setbacks. So you really need to be honest with yourself. The following exercises will help you assessing your level of motivation.

Visualizing success: close your eyes and imagine you’ve succeeded in reaching your goal. Where are you? Who is around you? What are they saying about you? How are you feeling? What are you saying about yourself? What precisely is making you feel this way?

Visualizing failure: close your eyes again and now imagine a future in which you haven’t achieved your goal. Ask yourself the same questions.

If you don’t feel tiny butterflies in the belly or excitement or a beaming smile on your face in the first exercise, you can drop that goal. If the second one left you indifferent, you can drop it as well!


#2 ¦ Is it formulated in a positive way?

Our brain doesn’t understand negation. If I tell you not to think about a blue elephant. Your brain will first imagine a blue elephant and then draw a huge red cross on it. If your goal is to quit smoking or to stop eating sugary snacks (etc…) you are directing your attention on exactly the behavior you want to get rid of! Ask yourself what you would like instead. For example, to feel better in your body or to have a healthier lifestyle, etc…


#3 ¦ Is it yours?

Is the goal within your area of control? If your desire is to change your kids’ behavior, or your partner, your boss or your friends, this is not under your control! Ask yourself which type of relationship you’d like to have and how you can contribute to it. On the other side, if the goal has been set by someone else and you’re not doing it for YOU, there is little chance you’ll be motivated to pursue it. And we’re back to the 1st question.


#4 ¦ Is it challenging yet reachable?

If there is no challenge, you’ll get bored. If it feels like Mount Everest, it might be scary and discouraging. Becoming a curling olympic champion without having even been on an ice skating ring (nor having ever used a broom) is unrealistic. Which alternative would be satisfying for you?


#5 ¦ Is there a drawback to reaching it?

You need to make sure you’re in complete alignment with the consequences of you pursuing and reaching your goal. What could be the negative consequence for you, your loved ones or other stakeholders? Are you ready to live with them?

There might be some hidden benefits behind some of our behaviors and habits. It is also very important to identify as early as possible as they can play a self-sabotaging role along the way.


#6 ¦ Is it mesurable?

This doesn’t mean putting a number to it. The question is: when will you know you’ve achieved the goal? For example, let’s say goal is to grow your level of self-confidence. You can ask yourself, on a scale of 1 to 10, which level of self-confidence would I like to reach (and which level is it today)? You can also think about how you will know you’ve improved your self-confidence? Is it because you’re able to express your opinion with ease in a business meeting? Or you’ve had the courage to start a project close to your heart? Or you’ve taken some distance from external judgment?


#7 ¦ Is it specific?

We tend to set ourselves very wide and vague goals which is hampering your capacity to take action. If this is the case for you, it’s important to specify and narrow down the scope. Is the goal linked to a specific aspect of your life (work, health, home, social…), to a relationship, a project or a specific type of situation. This helps making the goal more concrete and will make it easier for you to develop a specific action plan.


#8 ¦ Is it time bound? 

By when do you want to achieve your goal? We are quite short term focused so make sure that the target is within the next 12 months. If your project spans across several years, define the big steps to get there and set a goal for each of them.


#9 ¦ Is it written? 

Hand writing your goal helps to make it more concrete. It’s an idea dancing in your head anymore, it takes form and gets anchored in the world. It’s the first step to take it from dream world to reality. Make sure to place it in a way so you can see it as often as possible. You can write it on a post-it note on your computer, your bathroom mirror or have it as a background picture on your phone. You’ll be constantly reminded of it and this will influence how your brain filters outside information and the connection it makes between ideas.


#10 ¦ Is your very first action step planned

What is the very first step you will take? Make sure to plan this action now in your agenda. In the end, the most important is to start moving! The only thing leading to a new action is action itself.