• Vrutika Soneji

How to Make Effective Goals

What do you aspire to achieve? Do you want to get A’s in all of your classes? Perhaps you want to make a sports team or get in shape. Whatever you wish to accomplish, you need to set a goal to do so. Setting an effective goal with the following tips and tricks can pave the path to attaining your dreams!

Goals v.s. Intentions

Before starting to decide your goals, it helps to clarify the difference between goals and intentions. A goal is a specific task that can be measured, like being able to run a mile in a certain amount of time. Intentions, on the other hand, are the overarching mindset or method of living that you want to achieve, rather than simply checking off something on your to-do list. This includes eating healthy or using social media less often.

1. Choose Your Goals

When choosing your goals, make sure that it is not an intention. For example, instead of getting in shape, you can say that you want to run half a marathon by the end of summer. You can ensure you are doing this by using SMART goals, meaning your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Remember to make your goals entirely in your control. For example, setting a goal to get an award or to get into a college will not be effective since the outcome is dependent on other people. Similarly, try not to make an “all-or-nothing goal,” like getting A’s in all of your classes. If you mess up one part of a goal, like getting a B in one class in this example, your entire goal is derailed. Instead, make your goals achievable and a reasonable number, since it is better to put your full effort into a few goals.

2. Map Out Your Action Plan

Now that you have chosen your goal, you need to make a plan to achieve it! You can develop this in two ways: checkpoints and habits. Checkpoints are where you want to be in a specific amount of time, while habits are actions you regularly take, like weekly or monthly, to improve your skills and reach your goal. Also, writing down your action plan will give you a higher chance of remembering and achieving it.

For instance, if your goal is to be able to run a mile by the end of the year, then you may have checkpoints every month. By June, you would want to reach 0.5 miles, by July you would reach 0.6 miles, and so forth. As for your habits, you may exercise five times a week to improve your stamina and cardio.

3. Go Achieve Your Goals!

Use your action plan to go out and conquer your goals! If you lose motivation, review your goals and remind yourself of why they matter to you. This is where checkpoints come into play, as achieving the mini-goals that you have established for yourself will give you the motivation to conquer more.

To ensure consistent motivation, it may help to understand if you work better with intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic means motivation from yourself, like exercising because you enjoy running. Meanwhile, extrinsic motivation comes from outside forces, like only allowing yourself to watch your favorite show while on the treadmill to motivate yourself to exercise.

4. Reflect on Your Goals and Adjust

Check in with yourself frequently to understand if you are still on track or not. This means keeping up on your habits and checkpoints. It is completely okay to change your course as needed, whether you are ahead or behind on your checkpoints.

While you may want to change your goals if they are too difficult, try to stick to your goal through a “season.” This may mean an actual season or a natural stopping point. You may want to quit if it is grueling at the moment, but pushing through until the end of the season will help you improve. If the season ends and you still feel like your goal is unattainable, feel free to change it!

You can simply achieve an aspiration by choosing a goal, mapping out the action plan, working on the goal, reflecting, and adjusting. The road may be difficult, but you got this! Go out and conquer your goals!


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