Setting Personal Goals
Laura Bissonette

There are many different strategies for goal setting. One way is to start with the end of your life and work backwards.  Picture your funeral.  Who do you hope would want to attend?  Friends that you don't have time for anymore?  A family member that you aren't on speaking terms with?  How about members of a community group?  Do you belong to any?  What do you want them to say about you?  That you were a fun, generous, happy person that made a good impact on a lot of lives?  What accomplishments and achievements would you be proud of?  The answers to questions like these give you an outline for the way you want to live, don't they?

This plan will help you work out the steps that you will take to accomplish your goals.  Don't write down any goals that other people have set for you, or any that you really don't want to do.  A three-ring binder will keep all your notes together in one place and you will be able to replace outdated goals with fresh ones from time to time.  You might prefer a notebook, but loose pages won't work.

Find a quiet, peaceful place where you can think without interruptions.  This exercise might take a few hours, especially if it is the first time.  This is not selfishness!  Organizing your thoughts and setting goals is a very important process that will only benefit you and everyone in your life!


1.  Make a list of everything you want to accomplish before you die, on the first page.  If you need help coming up with ideas, go back and give some more thought to your funeral

2.  Sort the list into stages of your life.  Before I reach the age of _____  I want to accomplish the following . . . You are currently in Stage A.   Assign a letter of the alphabet to each future stage.

3.  For each stage, number every goal, in order of importance.  Use a new sheet of paper for each goal in Stage A. Title them Stage A, Goal 1, etc.

4.  For the remaining stages, list only the top 3 most important goals.

5.  At this point, you should go over the list and make sure there aren't any conflicts.  For example, do you want to go sailing around the world by yourself, and develop a closer relationship with your children at the same time?  You may want to make some adjustments - don't cross any off your list, just slot them into a more appropriate time.


Now, for each goal do the following:

1.  Write down exactly why you want this.  What benefits you will get from working toward it, even before you reach it.  Be very specific.  How will it make you feel to accomplish it?

2.  Determine how you will know if it has been achieved.  Some things are obvious for example, a certain weight, or a new car in the driveway.  How will you know when you have accomplished "spending more time with
friends"?  Or, "Have a loving relationship"?  This type of goal could be given a rating system.

3.  Write down how you will measure progress (number of nice things you say to that person each day).  A weight chart, a journal of your feelings, your savings account passbook are ways to track headway.

4.  Assign a date for the accomplishment of each goal.  For long term goals assign benchmark dates along the way.

CONGRATULATIONS!  The work you've done this far is going to give you a huge advantage in getting to where you want to go.  Are you tired from focusing and concentrating so hard?  Let's take a break now and continue later with Part II.

Part 2

We've chosen goals and defined them.  Now it is time to break them down into more manageable steps.  This is why you need a page for each goal!


First, set a timer for an hour.  Either by yourself, or with a helpful, supportive person, write down at least 20 ways to reach your top priority goal.  Force yourself to think past the obvious and you will eventually break through with some very creative concepts!  When the time is up, stop. Choose the three best ways.

Now, make a list of all the things that are holding you back.  Lack of time, money, education, support, etc.  Choose the major roadblock to your success.  What can you do to remove it?  Use the 20 idea here again if
necessary.  If you work on removing this one obstacle a little bit each day, your goal will come into focus, and you will reach it faster than you ever thought possible.


1.  Is your target date more than a year away?  Write down general thoughts about what has to be accomplished each year.  Use your 3 best ways and major roadblock here.  Incorporate them into the plan.

2.  Break the first year's work down into months.  Write down what should be done each month.  What can you do to get to your goal?

3.  Make a list of steps that can be done in 15 minute segments.  Keep this list close at hand for times where you can squeeze them in.

4.  Do this at least once a year.  Compare how much you accomplished with your plan and make adjustments for the next year.  Realize that your goals will likely change over the years.  That's okay--new goals will come out
of the work you have done toward the old ones.  Don't give up!


1.  Start with this month.  Look at the list of jobs you made for this month on your annual plan.  Sort the list into weeks.

2.  Now you have a list of mini-steps to be done each week this month.

3.  Transfer the mini steps to your calendar or planner.  Make sure it is in a place where you will see them every day.

4.  Make a commitment to yourself to treat these steps as the important events they are.  Skipping them will only delay the attainment of your goal!

All that work was the planning stage for one goal--your most important one.  It seems like a lot now, but you'll be very happy that you made the investment when you see how things fall into place because of it.  Now if you want to achieve more than one goal, it would be a good idea to repeat the procedure for the others as well.

Scan over the goals you have set for future stages of your life and make note of things you could do now to make it easier then, such as setting up a savings plan for a specific goal.


1.  Try to keep your life balanced and don't overload yourself with goals!  Leave at least 20% of your time unscheduled. Don't forget your family, friends and health. Hopefully, they are included in your plan.

2.  At least once a year, go over your plan. Write out the monthly details.  Keep a measuring device for each goal. If you are behind in any area, try to determine why, and make adjustments.

3.  Each month while you are copying the weekly lists to your planner, spend a little time going over your progress.  Check your list of 20 ways and your main roadblock.  Is your goal becoming clearer?

4.  Get a Goal Buddy to report to either by email or telephone.  Sharing your plans and progress will make you work harder and accomplish more!

5.  Keep the dream alive.  Put up pictures of what you want.  Make a collage.  Feed your subconscious with images of what you want every day.  Believe it will be yours.  Think positively.

Envision the final accomplishment in as much detail as possible, think about it every day, do it every day.  Keep yourself motivated.  Remember this


Laura Bissonette is the owner of A1 Priorities, "Helping Busy People Get Organized". The company offers residential, small business and personal organizing, including a wide variety of customized services.


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