20 Exceptional Tips for Setting and Achieving Smart Goals

Achieving and Setting Goals

Goal setting is crucial for getting what you want, but most goal setting articles lack that extra oomph to really get you taking action and achieving your goals faster than you thought possible.

I wrote this article to fill that gap. Not only will you learn how to set smart goals, you will also learn how to program your unconscious mind to propel you into action and success.

For a long time, I didn’t set any goals because I thought they were useless. However, when I became serious about goal setting, I saw immediate results.

It was as if a switch was flipped inside of me and my unconscious mind suddenly had a target to go after. The feelings of feeling lost and overwhelmed were dramatically decreased.

And my feelings of motivation shot through the roof like an out of control champagne cork. Setting goals always seemed scary to me, because it meant committing to something I wasn’t sure about.

Whatever your reasons used to be for not setting goals, it’s time to set them aside and use goals to dramatically increase not only how much you get done in life, but how fulfilled you feel.

Obviously goals aren’t going to automatically make your life better or make you rich. It’s up to you to set goals that make you happy and that are right for you.

Goals help you gain clarity on what you truly want in life. They are a tool to help you move in the right direction–a very powerful tool.

One of the most effective ways to set goals is to utilize the S.M.A.R.T criteria, and that is what the first five tips in this article are all about.

The rest of the tips come from my personal experience and the things I’ve learned of how you can enhance your goal setting:

1. Specific

One of the most important things for setting and achieving goals is to set specific goals.

Think about where it should happen, when it should happen, what you want to accomplish, what you need to get there (if you know), and why you want to achieve the goal.

Most people set vague goals because they want to “stay open,” but we both know that the people who set vague goals never go anywhere.

If you want to earn a specific amount of money every year doing what you love, set a specific amount, such as $50,000 a year, or $5,000 a month.

2. Measurable

Making your goals measurable will help you know when you’re making progress, when you’re on the right track, and it will motivate you to take action.

The important question you should be asking yourself is: How will I know when I’ve achieved my goal?

How do you know when you’re making progress and how will you know when you’re heading in the right direction?

3. Attainable

Your goal has to be attainable, and you have to believe that you can achieve it.

Now, sometimes you may have beliefs that bring you down. That’s normal, and these negative beliefs can be eliminated if you wish to do so.

Set goals that you can attain and that excite you. Boring goals are not the best motivators if you want to take massive action and change your life for the better.

4. Realistic

If you set an unrealistic goal, it will discourage you from taking action and even taking the first step.

If you want to run a marathon, an unrealistic goal might be to prepare for a marathon in two weeks. It’s just not going to happen.

So remember to set realistic goals that are both attainable and that excite you to take action right now.

5. Timely

Setting a deadline will dramatically enhance your focus and motivation. If you’ve ever worked under the pressure of time, you know how fast you can produce great quality work.

I use deadlines repeatedly when writing articles. I set a time limit for each article, and I challenge myself to set new records of how fast I can get a first draft done.

I highly recommend you get an egg-timer or whatever you want to use, and really challenge yourself to do more than you think you can.

You will be surprised at the outcome.

6. Model

Now we’re getting to the really good stuff. The first five tips are essential to good goal setting, but the tips that follow will catapult you toward your goals.

One of my favorite ways to reach goals is to find people that have already done what I want to do, learn what they did, and take the same steps they’ve taken.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel, when there is almost always someone that has already gone before you that you can follow.

This is not to say you should follow them blindly, only that you can pick what feels right and make much faster progress than if you were learning everything from scratch.

7. Visualization

Visualization has been proven over and over again to not only be effective in improving performance, but also in changing behaviors and achieving big goals.

When you imagine your most important goal as already being achieved, you will feel good and you will be telling your unconscious mind exactly what you want.

I recommend you visualize for a few minutes early in the morning and before you go to bed. Imagine your goals as already being accomplished, and really enjoy the feeling of success that comes from that.

After you’ve seen your goal(s) as already accomplished, try visualizing your next step. For example, if your goal is to write a book, visualize sitting down, and writing. Transfer those positive feelings into an action step.

8. Affirm

You’ve probably heard of affirmations. There has been a lot of bad press about them, but what people think of them doesn’t change the fact that they remain effective.

However, please don’t force yourself to do them if they don’t feel right. Listen to yourself first, and take what resonates from this article.

For example, if you have a goal of writing 1,000 words every day, your affirmation might be “I easily and consistently write 1,000 words each and every day.”

You then repeat this information to yourself throughout the day. But don’t just repeat them in your head, remember to see the result, and feel getting your 1,000 words in every day.

Affirmations do not work for most people because:

  • They aren’t used consistently
  • They aren’t used properly
  • Their doubts take over
  • They don’t FEEL them

What I mean by your doubts taking over is that when you say your affirmation, your mind may go “Yeah right, you’re not going to earn that amount of money. You don’t deserve it.”

That instantly destroys the power of your affirmation.

9. Release Doubts

Most people are great at talking negatively to themselves all day long. They are telling themselves that affirmations do not work while using the exact opposite of affirmations.

Here are a few examples of common negative self talk:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I’ll never amount to anything
  • I am not worthy of $100,000 per year
  • Why do bad things always happen to me
  • Why did he/she do that to me
  • Life is not fair

The more you tell yourself that things will happen, the more they will. As you think, so shall you become.

Releasing these doubts can be done in many ways.

10. Believe in Yourself

It’s important that you believe in yourself and in your ability to reach your goals.

Naturally, you can begin to realize that you have already accomplished many goals in your life. You already have amazing qualities that make you a genius, even if you may not believe it, yet.

The only person standing between you and success is yourself.

You do not even necessarily have to know how you will accomplish your goal, much like babies do not have to read books on walking in order to start walking.

They simply do until they succeed.

11. Take Action

While visualization and affirmations are highly effective in propelling you toward your goals, you also have to take action each and every day.

The more action you take, the faster you will achieve your goals. Just by reading these words, you can become aware of all the steps you can take, right now, to achieve your goals.

You can begin to move toward your dream life. It may seem hard at first, but as you keep going, the fog will clear and you will start to feel better and better.

12. Use Software

Another interesting way to condition your mind positively is to use subliminal software you can have your affirmations flashing on your computer screen, or you could even create your own Audio CDs.

There have been countless studies on the subject of subliminals. They have even been banned from advertising because they’re so effective.

All of the tips in this article are to help you reach your goals. By no means do I recommend you rely on just one.

I am putting it all out there so you can pick and choose. The most important factors will always be clarity and action. Always remember that.

13. Meditate

Meditation is an excellent way of calming your mind, tapping into the unlimited potential of your unconscious and easily solving any challenge you may come across.

It can be as simple as sitting down for 5 to 10 minutes and focusing on your breath. It will not only help you achieve your goals faster, it will also help you relax and improve your health.

I personally enjoy moving meditation, which is simply the act of being aware of your body or your breathing while you’re working out, watching the dishes, or even taking a walk.

14. Brainstorm

A great way to faster achieve your goals is to brainstorm steps you can take today to make even more progress.

You can do this by taking a blank sheet of paper and writing what you want to get the answer to at the top.

For example, before I began writing this goal setting article, I brainstormed all the tips beforehand.

I simply wrote the following at the top: “How to achieve goals faster,” I then let my unconscious mind do its thing without censoring.

15. Be Open

When setting smart goals, it’s important to stay open-minded, because the way to achieving your goal may be nothing like you have imagined.

If you want to earn $100,000 a year, set that goal and start affirming it and you may suddenly find yourself without a job.

This may at first seem disheartening, but when you really look at it, you realize that you didn’t like that job at all.

And a few weeks later you find another job which you truly enjoy and find that your earning potential is significantly better.

You just never know what the universe will throw at you.

16. Read, Listen and Learn

Setting goals is not about accomplishing things as much as it is about personal growth.

You see, when you set goals that are challenging, you will have to become a better person in order to accomplish those goals.

That is why it’s important that you read, listen and learn about personal growth and how you can become better in every area of your life.

If you want to make a million, don’t do it for the money, do it for the person you will have to become.

17. Determination

One of the most common characteristics of people that constantly achieve their goals is that they are determined and relentless.

They don’t give up.

Imagine being relentless in the face of obstacles and challenges. See yourself blasting through the roadblocks and moving boldly to your goals.

You already have that ability in you, you just have to dust it off and start using it.

18. Positive Attitude

Have you noticed that positive people tend to not only get more things done; they also tend to be a lot happier?

Negative people often say they are not negative, merely realistic. I don’t care what they say, because when you look at the results, you can clearly see that being positive is better than being negative, no matter what your life circumstances are.

You can easily make the decision today to become more positive and see things in a new light. The ball is in your hands.

19. Non-Perfection

If you have a goal you’ve been putting off because things aren’t perfect, take that as a message to get started right away, because circumstances will never be perfect.

If you want to start a fire, you first have to collect wood. Most people want the fire without having to put in wood first.

As you begin to take action toward your goal, you will become aware of the fact that the steps will magically appear in front of you as you keep moving forward.

This is what happened to me as I overcame my fears and started moving toward living the life that I truly wanted.

20. Passion

Last, but definitely not least is to follow your passion.

This is something you have probably heard me talk a lot about on this blog. When you’re passionate about your goals, you will be much more likely to achieve them.

Always remember that most of your life is spent on the journey so you might as well make it something you truly enjoy doing.

An Extra Tip

Realize that most of the goals you set may not need to be reached in order for you to reap the benefits. They may just need to be there for you to have something to aim at.

So stay open, stay positive, and go with the flow of life, because you never know where it will take you.

And Remember

You don’t have to use all the tips in this article. Pick what resonates with you, and apply it in your life.

Knowledge is useless until it is applied, so pick one thing, and use it right now.

It doesn’t have to be big. In fact, I recommend you focus on tiny steps, and see where it takes you.

Experiment, have fun, and enjoy this ride we call life.

Image by Cliff

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  1. Henri,
    This was a fabulous post. I believe in having goals. I don’t believe in being so rigid though that you can’t go off course if something changes though. Overall I find that goals are just as you say – targets – that help pull us forward in our lives. Thank you!

  2. Great advice! I’m struggling to find my passion and set goals that put me on the right course. I’m fighting self-doubt, negativity, depression and loss of purpose. I hope being open, positive, believing in myself, and setting even small goals, will move me in the right direction. I have faith in the power of my subconscious. I just need to figure out what to tell it!
    Thanks for your inspiring words and sage advice.

    Best regards,

    Karen in NC

  3. Henri:
    I’m a big fan of step #11 Take Action. I find that taking even small steps every day can lead to big results.

  4. Henri, thanks for such a great, well thought out, post. I must admit the SMART bit grated – but I think that’s because we use it at work for our work objectives – it does work though – maybe I should consider applying it to something ‘outside’ of work and seeing what happens….

    What really resonated though was the bit on affirmations – I think it’s key here to remember that things take time and so it’s no good using affirmations and then stopping after a few days because ‘they’re not working’. If you’re going to use them then it’s for the long-haul (note to self on that one!). I’ve heard it said “don’t leave before the miracle happens” and that, I think, applies to affirmations – keep going (and going and going) and don’t stop until the dream/goal is realised.


  5. Henri,

    Great list here! I am very familiar with the SMART goal acronym and you added some significant additions to this. I think incorporating visualization, meditation, and any other technique to build confidence and assurance that the goal will be accomplished is crucial. When we are confident we’re more likely to take action, as well as stay dedicated and resilient when we run into obstacles. Whatever we can do to keep our spirits up and stay optimistic is very helpful in follow through with lofty goals.

  6. Awesome tips! I think if everyone went through their goals and applied these steps, they would have goals that would do them good in the long run, instead of leaving them working for something that they may not be able to see through in the end.

  7. Very well thought out ideas here and I too have had a lot of trouble using affirmations and not giving something my all and then quitting before I really ever got started.

    I’ve also had a terrible time believing in myself even with positive influence around me. Just to take things one step at a time and not focus too much on the road ahead is what has helped me in the past more than anything.

  8. Dominic says:

    Hey Henri!

    Great advice you got there! I believe that one of the chief reasons why people don’t achieve their goals is not because of a lack of ability, but more of a lack of action and persistency. For those who dream of big plans, their next challenge will be to take that leap of faith; for those who are working towards their goals, the challenge is to keep pressing on even in the midst of setbacks and obstacles.

    Thanks for the post again! Cheers! 😉

  9. Archan Mehta says:


    First off, thanks for writing this fab post. It has the potential to help a lot of people out there.

    Your post reminded me of Tony Robbins. Tony was a high-school drop out and still does not have a college degree. He was asked to leave by his mother when he was still very young.
    He was overweight and unhappy. He worked as a janitor and doing other odd jobs, if memory serves.

    Slowly but surely, however, he made small changes in his life. Step by step, Tony climbed the ladder to success. Those baby steps enabled him to achieve great wealth and fortune. Today, Mr.Robbins is one of the greatest motivational gurus of our age. Tony has been a coach to celebrities and consulted with Fortune 500 companies all over the world. Even heads of state have come to Tony for suggestions. Just goes to show the power of positive thinking.

    Tony makes us want to believe that anything is possible. Just like you said, the only thing holding you back is your state of mind. Tony worked through his limitations. Although he had numerous flaws, he was not held back by them. Tony was relentless in his pursuit of excellence. If you have watched his infomercials or read his books, well, you know what I mean. Cheers.

  10. The easiest goals to achieve are the ones that we know we can reach. It’s a great idea to start with small achievable goals and then work our way up to bigger goals.

    It’s also important to rest in between goals because we don’t want to run out of steam when climbing the mountain of success.

  11. Hi Henri,
    Just wondering if you have any advice for me. I have very little if any actual support from my family esp. my mother and she is always criticizing me and putting me down. I don’t have supportive friends. I feel like I’m finished before I even begin. I feel like everyone I know would like me to stay as I am and that they actually want me to be miserable. Please help.
    Thanks, Tricia

    • Hey Tricia,

      It’s very hard to give general advice, but what I can do is ask you: What does your heart tell you? When you look past all the negative beliefs and thoughts, see what is there, and do what excites you, one step at a time.

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