5 Ways to Set More Achievable Goals

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Andrew Perri, President & Founder

Pinnacle Wealth Management
Andrew : 810-220-6322

Setting goals is a deeply meaningful exercise. Research shows that setting goals motivates us, gives us a sense of purpose and helps us feel accomplished.

Still, most of us struggle to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. We set unattainable goals, we lack the motivation to follow through, we don’t really value the goals as much as we think we do.


Here’s how to be more realistic about your goals.

1) CONNECT EVERY GOAL TO A “WHY.” In her article, “5 Ways to Make Sure You Achieve Your Goals This Year,” Allison Walsh writes that when you understand the “why” that’s driving your actions, it’s easier to avoid distractions and focus on pursuing your goals. Naming your purpose also helps:

  • Gain awareness of your vision.
  • Better articulate your ideas to yourself and others.
  • Decipher what you shouldn’t be doing.
  • Prioritize what you should be doing

Walsh shares this simple exercise to discover your “why.”

“I want to ____ so that I can ____.”

2) BREAK YOUR GOALS DOWN. Walsh suggests a 90-day sprint to make your goals more attainable. Break goals down into smaller ones that you can accomplish every day. Then, create a plan to attain the small goals you set.

3) SCHEDULE “BUFFER TIME” FOR YOUR GOALS. According to Kristi DePaul, one reason we struggle to meet our goals is that we overestimate our capabilities and underestimate external factors that can affect us.

In her article, “This is Why You Keep Missing Deadlines,” DePaul writes that one way to overcome this fallacy is to increase your estimated deadline by 25%. Use technology tools such as Due or Todoist to set timely reminders, or enlist a virtual accountability partner to ensure that you stay on track. You can also try creating intermittent milestones or deadlines.

4) FOCUS ON CONTINUATION, NOT IMPROVEMENT. In her article, “Why You Should Stop Trying to Fix Yourself,” Charlotte Lieberman writes that “focusing too much on ‘improving’ ourselves is a recipe for self-judgment, anxiety and many other crappy emotions.” Research confirms a direct correlation between negative emotions and procrastination.

Lieberman suggests embracing things we’ve already started and would like to continue or build upon with time. Thinking of goals as a continuation of something you’re already working on can make them feel safe, comfortable and easy to achieve.

5) DON’T DWELL ON PAST FAILURES. It’s normal to fail sometimes. That said, if your past failures or mistakes are negatively affecting your confidence to pursue new goals, there are ways to move past these feelings and motivate yourself.

In their article, “Why We Set Unattainable Goals,” Haiyang Yang, Antonios Stamatogiannakis, Amitava Chattopadhyay and Dipankar Chakravarti share the following strategies.

  • CELEBRATE THE SMALL WINS. Remind yourself this is proof that you’re capable of making positive changes.
  • THINK ABOUT “ACCIDENTAL” OR RELATED BENEFITS. Ask yourself: What did I learn about myself while trying to reach my goal?
  • ASK FOR AN OBJECTIVE ANALYSIS. Ask a friend or family member, “Why do you think I failed?” They may give you a reality check that will help you better understand yourself.

c.2022 Harvard Business Review. Distributed by The New York Times Licensing Group.

This HBR article was legally licensed through AdvisorStream.

Andrew Perri profile photo

Andrew Perri, President & Founder

Pinnacle Wealth Management
Andrew : 810-220-6322