5 Goal Setting Skills to Assure Success

Goal setting skills

I’m sure that you already realize how important the relationship is between goal setting and achieving success.  Many of our readers have told me that they set lots of goals. They like to set big goals, little goals, short-term and long-term goals.

Is that true of you also? Are you a goal oriented person? If so, then you likely have a pretty good understanding of the basics of goal setting.  You’ve probably learned to write down what you want to achieve, and the reasons why.  You also know about motivation, obstacles and challenges, time lines, a plan of action, visualization and persistence.

So, with all this knowledge at your disposal, let me ask you this…

How many of your goals do you actually achieve?

If the percentage is not as high as you’d like it to be, don’t feel like you’re all alone.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “I’m doing everything right and I still can’t accomplish my goals.”  Have you ever felt that way?

So, what’s the problem?  First of all, let me say that all the steps you’ve learned actually do work.  Unfortunately, there are other necessary factors involved in being successful at goal setting. And it’s not so much that these important factors have been left out, but for some reason it seems like their value is not clearly communicated most of the time.

5 important elements of successful goal setting

1) Mindset. Your mindset and self-image need to change with regard to, and in conjunction with your goals and the goal setting process. If somewhere deep inside yourself you don’t feel confident about your ability to succeed, that core belief will sabotage your efforts.

To accomplish big goals you need to be able to truly identify with what it will be like to really be there. When you absolutely know deep down that it will happen, then your identity becomes tied up with that vision, and you are on the way.

2) Perspective. You need to develop the ability to mentally shrink down the size of your challenges in your mind. Your internal view of how big or small the challenge is will have a direct influence on your confidence. Your brain can make any task look big and impossible, or it can make it seem totally doable.  It’s the same task but a completely different feeling. When your confidence is high, even the difficult challenges associated with goal setting will seem fun and exhilarating.

3) Your view of obstacles. When setbacks and problems come up you need to view them not as walls or roadblocks, but as part of the growth process. Goal setting usually involves some unexpected challenges along the way. How you view those challenges will determine whether you keep moving forward or abandon your goal. Make up your mind beforehand to allow yourself to embrace the opportunity to solve any unforeseen problem. I promise you, your untapped abilities will surprise you when the time comes.

4) Desire. Develop a burning passion for the results you are about to create. Fall in love with both the benefits and the process of goal setting. Become intimately acquainted with the feelings of accomplishment and the satisfaction of reaching your goal. Knowing the benefits of reaching a goal is not enough. Get your emotions involved so you will stay motivated and focused.

5) Commitment. Make an unbreakable commitment to see it through clear to the finish line – no matter what. That might be a huge commitment so it’s important to ask yourself before you start the goal setting process, “Do I really want it enough to make that kind of commitment?” You need to be sure before you start. If you bail out part way through, it will have a negative effect on your self-confidence and make things harder next time. If you see it through to success, your self-confidence will soar and it will be much easier the next time around.

Successful goal setting is an advanced life skill

If you want some practical help with achieving your goals in record time, my home study course Find Your TRUE SELF lays the whole process out and walks you through it. There are several written exercises to help you get crystal clear on who you really are, and where you really want to go with your life.

Rest assured, no one is born with the ability to achieve success utilizing and executing an effective goal setting strategy. And for some unexplainable reason they don’t teach these things in school. But anyone can learn these skills and use them to achieve success in every area of life. It’s just a matter of understanding the goal setting process.

Do you have some special goal setting strategies?
How did you learn the importance of systematic goal setting?
What kind of goals do you find most challenging?
The lines are open!

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My all time favorite tool for accomplishing amazing goals and creating massive positive change is called the 100 Day Challenge. If you are ready to realize your dreams and goals, then you should read this article.


  1. Robin Easton June 18, 2010 Reply

    Dear Jonathan,

    This is wonderfully supportive and encouraging. Although I am really good at goal setting and following through on whatever I set as a goal, there have been times of my life when it was not always easy, or I didn’t even know what my goals were.

    To start leaning what my goals were, I started doing things that I knew I loved, no matter how little or silly they seemed, and I ALSO started doing a lot of new things that I had NEVER done, even small things. In that way I not only accomplished and finished some goals (even if they were small), but I also started to learn more about myself and what I liked and didn’t like. AND by accomplishing/finishing even small goals I fed my sense of self worth, pride and what was possible. I gave myself the message that I COULD succeed at something, and when I did succeed, it felt GOOD. That is powerful reinforcement.

    Another thing that has been key to following through MUCH bigger goals has been to set both short term and long terms rewards. Example: “If I get 5 pages of my website redesigned by noon, I can then have a peaceful sit-down-lunch, take a 30 minute hike/walk WITH MY CAMERA and photograph whatever might catch my eye. For me that is incentive to stay focused and get done what needs to get done.

    A longer term goal might be, if I can get this website up by Friday, I will treat my sweetie and I to a healthy meal at the Vietnam restaurant, or a picnic by the pueblo ruins, etc. A longer term reward might be that if we get this or that done by Dec. we will go on a vacation Chaco Canyon or Mesa Verde, etc. I have found that setting short and long term rewards/breaks is key to getting through those seemingly endless and tough work stretches that can sometimes be needed to accomplish a HUGE goal. My husband is much better at this than I am. In fact, I learned it from him. And am still learning to do it, more so now than ever (with my book coming out).

    I think setting these long and short term rewards/breaks really ties in with your point on PERSPECTIVE, and breaking things down in to pieces. That is a powerful point you make. And a very very crucial one.

    It is soooooooooooooo good to be back here. I can’t tell you how much I have missed being here on a regular basis. I am grateful for your wisdom, friendship, counsel and simply YOU being YOU.

    Big Hugs,

    • Steve June 18, 2010 Reply

      Robin, you are making me hungry by mentioning the Vietnamese restaurant :) Peace to you :)

      • Robin Easton June 18, 2010 Reply

        Dear Steve, You are SUCH a gem! I laughed out loud over your comment. I needed a good chuckle today !!! And believe me, you WOULD drool, shamelessly, if you tasted this woman’s cooking. It is totally homemade, traditional Vietnamese cooking. Everything is so fresh, and the way she combines food is enough to make me drool thinking about it. Shall I list the ingredients??!!! LOLOLOL!!!

        Okay, I know! Now I am shameless in my teasing! How could I resist?!!! Hugs, R :)

    • Jonathan June 21, 2010 Reply

      Hi Robin, it’s great to have you here. You made an important point about rewarding yourself for completing short term goals. This approach accomplishes several things.

      Since your reward took you away from the computer and into your personal life, it helps you maintain a balance in these areas. That’s not always easy to do but your approach guarantees it.

      When working on long term goals it can be easy to feel like your work isn’t providing any positive sense of accomplishment. Rewarding yourself for making progress keeps the feelings of accomplishment alive and helps you enjoy the process instead of attaching everything to the end result.

      This last point is really a key to living a purposeful life because life is a process. We need to celebrate the journey, not just the destination.

      Sorry it took so long to reply here, I was out of town for several days.

  2. Steve June 18, 2010 Reply

    Jonathan, I especially like your comments about the need to have the belief in place in order to set goals that we will actually follow through on. Then you followed it up with the next great point: we can mentally imagine and shrink down the challenges, then mentally imagine and expand the resources we have to meet those obstacles.

    • Jonathan June 21, 2010 Reply

      Hi Steve, as I read your comment I was thinking how so much of live is just a mind game. It is fully within our power to adopt whatever perspective allows us to have the most rewarding and enjoyable experience.

  3. Dia June 18, 2010 Reply

    Excellent post Jonathan, I agree with number 1,4, and 5 a lot. Without having the right mindset, burning desire, and commitment, it would be hard to achieve our goals. Many times people give up too soon on their goals for lack of commitment and lack of passion. These are needed. Thanks for sharing Jonathan

    • Jonathan June 21, 2010 Reply

      Hey Dia, there are so many creative ways to create commitment without making it feel like an endurance contest. In Robins comment she gives us a very practical way to keep things moving while enjoying out commitment.

      You are so right about people giving up too soon. If we don’t hang in there we never really discover our hidden resources.

  4. Frank June 22, 2010 Reply

    #3 Speaks to me greatly. I sometimes will see setbacks as a demotivating factor instead of as a stepping stone for success. Over time I have grown to change my thoughts to agree with your very point. It is like a storm. They are annoying to someone who enjoys being outdoors but without the rain the plants could not grow. Challenges are a necessary part of life.

    • Jonathan June 26, 2010 Reply

      Hi Frank, the storm illustration is a good one. I live in the mountains of SW Oregon and it can rain for days on end during the winter, but without it the forest I love wouldn’t exist. So your analogy really speaks to my, thanks for that.

  5. timethief June 27, 2010 Reply

    Sometimes I run low on desire. I can be very close to reaching a goal but no longer feel “charged up” about it. When this happens I find I have to reexamine where I’m at why I’m not feeling eager about reaching completion. The last time this happened to me I experienced how devious the subconscious mind can be. I was self sabotaging simply because I didn’t monitor the dialog in my head and negate the sloth with cheerleading thoughts, if you know what I mean.

    • Jonathan June 27, 2010 Reply

      Hi TT, I know exactly what you mean. Maintaining our enthusiasm and energy all the way to the finish line can be extremely challenging. It’s very easy to play the “what if” game in our heads and start entertaining doubts about our own abilities. This is especially true when it’s a long term goal with lots of challenges. We all deal with limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging tendencies on occasion. The trick is in being able to get past them and back on course.

      I know you’ve dealt with some serious challenges and have total confidence in your ability to overcome and keep going. And to inspire those around you.

  6. John Duffield August 8, 2010 Reply

    Good morning Jonathan and readers. Years ago, I was preparing a talk about “success” for University grads. We ancient alumni get pressed into this service for convocations every year. But my talk gave me sleepless nights. I knew something scary about “success” these young people probably didn’t want to know. Even so, I felt obligated to hold up my red flag. So I did. Here’s the gist of it. Those graduates wanted a speech filled with precisely the success principles Jonathan has so eloquently summarized here and in other articles. These principles, if applied to your life, really can make you successful beyond your wildest dreams. But they probably won’t for one simple reason. True success is about building …..YOU. Not a business. Not a mountain of cash. Not a monument. YOU. So let’s stop and think for a second. These success principles are just tools. And what happens if you don’t know what you’re making? If you don’t know who YOU are….all the tools in the world won’t help. Chances are you don’t have a clue who you are right now either, because only one in millions does in today’s world. Now we get to the scary part. What happens if you use the success principles without knowing who you are? Simple. You build the life of somebody else’s dreams. You pretend to be something you’re not. By now you may be wondering how to figure out who you really are. The short answer is, you have to change the way you see the world. The way we’ve been taught to see things just won’t let you. Ciao. John Duffield

    • Jonathan March 25, 2011 Reply

      Hey John, I couldn’t agree more. You can’t build your dream according to someone else’s plan. That’s why we use principles because they are adaptable. Of course, as you brought out, if we don’t know who we then we won’t know what kind of adaptation is required. First we need to discover our TRUE SELF

  7. Alex Work September 22, 2010 Reply


    Nice post. I found number three in your list to be particularly true. All too often I see people give up at the first sign of trouble, when if they only persisted a little longer odds are they’d accomplish their goal(s).

    Alex Work

    • Jonathan March 25, 2011 Reply

      Yes Alex, persistence is often the difference between success and that other thing!

  8. Heléna January 4, 2011 Reply

    Thank you Jonathan for your enlightening advice :)

    • Jonathan March 25, 2011 Reply

      My pleasure Helena, thanks for being here!

  9. Ralph October 13, 2012 Reply

    Good list! Desire is a funny thing. It really has to be present in order to persist but sometimes it makes itself scarce. Developing it is crucial.

  10. Robert October 15, 2012 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    A great post and I can relate to all 5 points, but what I find crazy and which you point out is that these skills are not taught in schools. Perhaps if they were then a lot more people would reach their potential in life and there would be a lot less people struggling financially as well as emotionally.

    I think we need a whole new education system.


    • abathunegn melak June 3, 2014 Reply

      I get inspired when I read the things you write about goals. I am a student at Bahiir Dar University and I want to set goals starting now to become good entrepreneur in Ethiopia.

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