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The Ultimate Guide to Setting Personal Goals

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

If you’ve read my blog post ‘Reviewing 2020: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself’ you probably already have a good idea of the areas of your life that would benefit from some attention and TLC.

If you haven’t started to review 2020 yet, that is where I would recommend you begin, so head over to the article here and come back once you have answered some or all the questions.

If you have some inkling as to the areas of life you want to focus on but still don’t have a clear picture, you could try The Perfect Day exercise to gain some clarity.

The Perfect Day

Begin by closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths focusing only on your breathing. Once you feel centred and relaxed, open your mind and picture your perfect day in the coming year.

Use all of your senses and pay attention to the little details. How do you feel when you wake up? When you rise and begin your perfect morning routine, what do you do? What do you eat for breakfast?

Picture yourself preparing for and thinking about everything you are going to do today…what are you going to be doing today? What are you excited about?

When you go to work or undertake your daily activity, what are you doing that brings you a sense of meaning and purpose? Where do you want to be? What feels positive and energising?

Where will you eat lunch today? Who are you with? Now you have eaten and feel satisfied, what are you going to do this afternoon? Or later this evening?

What do you plan to do to look after your mind and body today? What brings you the most joy? How will you relax and unwind in the evening to prepare yourself for sleep?

When you lie in bed at the end of the day self-reflecting, how do you feel? Which parts of your day brought you the most joy? Which the most satisfaction and peace? Turn your focus to any specific activities or parts of your day that made the most difference to you.

Take another deep breath in and out, return your focus to your breathing and gently wriggle your fingers and toes, bringing your awareness back to the room. When you are ready open your eyes.

Write down as much as you can remember, using all your senses and including how you felt. Were you surprised by anything? Were there any parts that were similar to your usual days now?

This is a great exercise to do to understand what you actually want from life and can help you identify which parts of your life you enjoy.

The next step is to score yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 how close you are to creating your perfect day. If you only need a couple of tweaks, you might give yourself a 9, if you think you require a job change and total re-creation, score yourself lower but don’t be put off! It may take a little bit longer, but everything is possible if you are willing to work for it.

Scoring yourself like this and recording it in a journal gives you the opportunity to review your progress at a point in the future.

Follow your dreams. Figure out where you’d like to be, what you would like to be doing, and then figure out what you need to do to get there.
Kennon M. Sheldon

The Process

It might help to think of the goal setting process as climbing a mountain. Whilst your ultimate (long-term) goal is the summit, you need to break the climb into smaller sections (medium-term goals). Those sections are then divided into individual steps (short-term goals) which creates a clear step-by-step map to your ultimate goal.

It’s important to select an appropriate and realistic time span that fits in with your goals and other commitments such as family. Long-term goals might be one year to ten years; medium-term goals are usually from one month to one year and short-term goals could be daily or weekly.

You may also find it easier to focus on one area of your life at a time. If I was to recommend just one area, I would say focusing on self-care and wellbeing will definitely make the biggest difference to your life as a whole!

Start by writing down your ultimate goal and set a realistic timescale. Can you really achieve it this year? Next year? In 5 years? Add the time scale and work your way back.

For example, if you know you want to change your career, what do you need to achieve that? Do you need any training? How long will that take? Can you afford it now? Or do you need to save?

Working backwards from your end goal write these intermediate (medium-term) steps in and keep them specific, measurable and positive. For example, I will save £3,000 for my qualification this year.

Next, look at the medium-term goals, what do you need to do to move between them? If you need to save, for example, this might involve looking at areas you could cut down your spending. Try to keep your short-term goals clear and achievable and set weekly or daily tasks so you can see your progress.

If you find that one of the tasks feels daunting or insurmountable, don’t be afraid to break it down further into even smaller steps. This is all about a creating a clear path to your goal, so do whatever you need.

By the end of this process you should have a clear long-term goal, a series of medium-term goals that will help you achieve it, and short term goals to help you achieve each medium-term goal.

Reflection is Key

Regular reflection on both the goal and the process is essential to ensure that you are still on the right track and also that the goal is still right for you. Return to the perfect day activity and check in to see if it has changed.

As your circumstances change, you change and there is nothing to say that the goal or dream you started with will be the same a few months and especially a year or 2 later!

Be open to the changes and don’t worry if this happens. Often people worry about telling friends and family if their goal changes, feeling that somehow they are letting people down. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what other people think about your goal.

Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw

Finally, remember that mindset is everything and that staying positive and focused is key to success. Believe you can and you really are halfway there!

Employing a coach can make the whole process more easily achievable so do consider this option; especially if you are working on a significant life change. Email me at to find out more.


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