How to Set Goals: The Basics

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Goal setting¬†can be super duper overwhelming and even scary for some folks. Truth is, though, if you want to get anywhere in life, whatever area you want to become stronger in, you must set goals. It’s, like, way important. I mean, if you’re not setting goals right now, how’s that workin’ out for ya? ūüėČ

After you get the tools you need, below are some basics to help get you started.

How to set goals the basics pin

Looking Ahead

One of the most fun things for me is looking 10 years into the future and envisioning what I want my life to look like. I always look at it as if time and money were no object and ask myself, what would I be doing? Then I write those things on paper.

First, I look at the facts:¬†How old will you be in 10 years? Your spouse, kids? This helps get a better picture of what daily life may look like. For instance, in 10 years my step son will be 24 and hopefully working through his law degree at Syracuse, and my daughter will be 22 (eek!), and possibly graduating with her Vet Tech degree. So, they¬†won’t be living at home anymore. Our youngest son will be 17 and graduating from high school. So 2026 is going to be a busy year for us!

Then I look at what my ideal life will look like РI would love to have a house on the lake by then so we can have graduation parties there. Will I be helping Emmah find an apartment or a house after she graduates or will she need to live with us while she looks for a job РI want to leave time for these things, you see?

It may seem nitty gritty to look at some much detail so far away, but really – look back now. Did you picture yourself where you are now 10 years ago? Probably not. 10 years ago I was 20 years old and my last thought was setting goals. Now it’s a priority for me. And those 10 years went by in the blink of an eye it seems like.

Work Backward

Now that you have an idea of what you want your life to look like in the future, it’s time to plan how you’re going to get there. Write down exactly what tools you’ll need to get there. Usually, with anything you want to do you’ll need money. That’s the first tool. Write down how much money you’ll need.

Example: A house on the Finger Lakes with beach front property (including taxes and insurances) isn’t cheap.¬†The housing market will fluctuate and costs for housing will likely continue to rise, but we have a pretty good idea how much this lake house will cost. I wrote that down.

We’ll be able to get a mortgage to pay it off over time, but it’s ideal to have 20% down payment, so I wrote that number down and when I want to have it – within 10¬†years, so that we’ll have the house either built or purchased and remodeled if needed by 2026. So now I know how much money we need to put away and in what amount of time. From there, I’ll be able to plan our monthly savings and then weekly savings plan.

See how that works?

If that seems overwhelming, start by looking ahead 5 years from now.

  • What do you want life to look like?
  • What career do you want to be working in?
  • How much money do want to be making?
  • What debt do you want paid off by then?

Then break it down from there: annually, then quarterly, and then an estimated monthly. I don’t recommend breaking it down weekly or daily at this point, because it’s really overwhelming, and your life will change.

This should take a couple of days to figure out – unless you just woke up from the best sleep ever + you’re running on espresso or Fizz Sticks – you don’t need to rush this. You shouldn’t rush this.

Monthly/Weekly/Daily Planner

bullet journaling

I started bullet journaling in late 2014 and I’m in love! Read my post about it here.

It allows me freedom on how I want to write my schedule and I can change my style/design at any point if there’s a method that isn’t working for me. For instance, in March 2016, I switched from a daily planner I bought from Amazon to writing my daily’s in my bullet journal and I cannot be more pleased.

Some folks need the timeline – they NEED to schedule every hour. I tried that and for me it wasn’t working. If I didn’t get something accomplished in the time that I had scheduled it for I felt unaccomplished, even if I had done something more important in it’s place. That feeling is gross.

Do what’s right for you, but if you want to be productive and accomplish those goals having a planner is really important! It’ll help you stay on task and focused.

Speaking of productivity, I read this awesome post about it from one of my favorite leadership guys, Michael Hyatt. Check it out here.

Have fun goal-setting, sweet one!



I’m super excited to announce that I opened a new Etsy shop on August 1st! It’s called The Chosen Spot Paperie – its¬†full of fabulously unique bullet + bible journal labels, covers, stickers and other fun things! You’ll also find¬†prayer cards, book marks, and coloring pages.¬†Click here to visit this new shop and add it to your favorites for easy shopping!

the chosen spot banner with tree

click to shop button

This post contains affiliate links. Read disclosures here.