Setting Goals that Stick – A Step by Step Guide

8th January 2020 | Joanna Naughton | Coaching & Mentoring

Setting Goals that Stick – A Step by Step Guide

Here’s how you can use a mixture of logic, structure and powerful mind hacks to set exciting goals and stick to them.

How often do you set yourself a goal in life – get all excited about it for the first few minutes, hours, or maybe even days – but then find yourself quickly off track or giving it up completely?

Yep – it happens to the best of us! It’s all hunky-dory when we’ve got the initial buzz of dreaming something different for ourselves, but rather quickly, our mind falls back into what it loves: familiarity, certainty and safety. We swiftly revert back to the old patterns and habits that we’re oh so used to.

We start thinking to ourselves: what’s the bloody point? If I’m only going to end up back where I started, I may as well keep playing small, doing what I’ve always done and getting what I’ve always got. Right?


There is a way to set goals that stick and hugely increase your chances of success.

When we identify that our victory (or lack thereof) is all about our mind getting on board with our dreams (or blocking the hell out of them), then we can work directly from the source. We can use our knowledge of the conscious and unconscious mind (or my knowledge, if you like) to set goals in a way that works with the mind, rather than against it.

Here’s how you can use a mixture of logic, structure and mind hacks to set goals and stick to them…

Step 1) Choose your focus

Decide on one area of your life that you want to make a shift in, improve or take to the next level. This area should be important to you and completely within your control (you can only ever change you, never someone else) – e.g. fitness, relationship, money, health, leisure, adventure, wellbeing, work, etc.

As yourself: If I change nothing in this area of my life, what is likely to happen? What is unlikely to happen?

Mind Hack – The more your mind sees the benefits of shifting, and the potential negative impact of not shifting, the more likely you are to move forwards with purpose and determination.

Step 2) Visualise your future

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being rock bottom and 10 being completely fulfilled), where would you rate that area of your life currently?

Now, close your eyes and imagine that the area of your life you've chosen to work on is now 10 out of 10: it's exactly how you want it to be. How do you feel? What are you thinking, feeling, saying and doing, and what's happening in the world around you?

Really feel into the new you. Allow your mind and body to feel the excitement and power. Allow it to recognise why feeling fulfilled in this area of your life is so important to you. Does it get you more of the things you value, like freedom, joy, connection, love?

Continue sitting and embodying the new you until it actually feels comfortable and normal to be this version of yourself.

Mind Hack – Our unconscious mind (the part of us that holds and controls all the programmes, patterns and habits) must feel safe and comfortable with something before it allows us to fully embrace it. Therefore, the more we visualise our dream future, the easier it is for our minds to get on board with a feeling of comfort and move towards it.

Step 3) Break it down

Still feeling into your future visualisation, ask yourself: What different elements did I resolve or focus on in order to get to this fulfilled future me?

Create a list of these different areas of focus.

Example: Perhaps you’ve chosen to tackle your health and you see from your visualisation that, to get there, you worked on areas such as cutting out processed foods, eating more fruit and vegetables, portion control, balancing vitamin intake, losing weight.

Step 4) Decide on the first step

Looking at your list of focus areas, which one aspect is most important for you to address now/first? Ask yourself: Why is this so important to me? What advantages will I get from shifting this? What disadvantages will I experience from staying the same?

Mind Hack – The more you keep checking in with how important something is to you, and the positive benefits you’ll receive/achieve from it, the more quickly your mind will get on board and help you along the way.

Step 5) Make it achievable

Mind Hack – The mind loves to achieve and succeed at small tasks, so let’s use this to our advantage. The more we can break down a goal or target into small, manageable, measurable steps, the more easily we can have a quick win, celebrate, and develop momentum to move to the next level.

Let’s continue to break the bigger goal down into smaller pieces. We can do this by introducing the scale again…

So, with the aspect you’ve chosen, where would you rate it right now on a scale of 1 to 10?

Now imagine you move one step closer (perhaps from a 2 out of 10 to a 3 out of 10). Ask yourself: How will I know that I’m one step closer? What will that look like, feel like, be like? What’ll be happening that tells me I’ve moved a step?

Example: Perhaps, if you were focusing on health, you’d decided to address losing weight. On this, you currently rate yourself at a 4 out of 10, and you recognise that a 5 out of 10 might be showing a certain number on the scales or fitting into your size 14 dress.

Step 6) Create your goal

It’s time to turn your specific focus area into a goal that sticks! To do this…

  • Focus your mind on moving towards your goal by stating it in the positive – what you want rather than what you don’t want, e.g. I have at least £100 in the bank at the end of this month (instead of: I don't have any debt); My black jeans button up OR I weigh 11 stone (instead of: I've lost weight).
  • Motivate your mind by stating the goal in the present tense, to show that you already know you will achieve it, e.g. I am 10 stone (instead of: I want to be 10 stone; I will be 10 stone).
  • Ensure success by making your goal clear, specific and measurable, e.g. I can run 2k without stopping (instead of: I can run OR feel fit).
  • Make sure your goal is completely down to you, e.g. I speak clearly and confidently in meetings (instead of: My boss promotes me).

Step 7) Make it actionable, accountable and enticing

When you've created your goal statement, write down the date you will have achieved it by: the day that you will say the statement and it will be completely true to you and the external world. Set this date in your calendar and tell friends, family and colleagues who can help you to feel more accountable.

Mind Hack – To increase the likelihood of you achieving your goal, continue to visualise your success along the way. A great way to do this is to remind yourself of the goal statement as often as possible and, each time you do, allow your mind to feel good about your future achievement. Here are some ways to do this…

  • Write it out each day a number of times. Try doing this with both your dominant and non-dominant hand so that you connect both sides of your brain. By writing with your non-dominant hand, this also attaches the statement to new neural pathways that will be created from attempting a tricky new skill.
  • Create a motivational image with the goal statement overlaid and set this as your screen saver on your laptop and phone.
  • Set reminders on your phone to notify you of your statement at least once a day.
  • Use the goal statement as your password on accounts you use regularly.

Setting goals that stick is all about the mind seeing the bigger picture and the body doing the tiny steps towards it. When you’ve created your goal statement and fully feel the future benefits of success, get cracking on the small, daily actions that will take you to your desired result. Each time you achieve your short-term goal, go back to Step 5 and repeat the process until you reach 10 out of 10 on the scale. When you’ve done this, celebrate, celebrate, celebrate, and then go back to your list from Step 3 and keep going.

Always remember…

Everything is achievable if we want it enough and we take the small steps to get there!

When you’ve created your goal statement, make sure to write it here in the comments! You’re much more likely to achieve it if you share it! Happy goal setting!

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