3 Simple Tricks to Reaching Your Goals

Tis the season for goal setting! There is something about a new year that motivates us to self-improvement. Almost everyone makes a New Year’s resolution at some point in his or her lives.

And almost everyone—sooner or later—breaks their resolutions.

Why is it so damn difficult to achieve our goals?

I struggled with that question for years. It frustrated me that I could be so ambitious about setting goals for myself, and yet so terrible at achieving them.

One day, a client of mine taught me an important lesson about objectives. You see, she consulted for nonprofit organizations, advising board members on how they can be more effective planners.

My client had a simple rule: You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

That struck me like a lightning bolt!  I learned a lot from that client over the years, but I can parse those lessons down to three simple tricks for achieving goals.

The three simple tricks to reaching your goals:

  • Be specific — remove ambiguity.
  • Quantify the goal — make it measurable.
  • Make the goal actionable — identify specific steps that can be taken to achieve the goal.

After that, whenever I set new goals for myself or my business, I applied those three tricks. It was not long before I began to see a definite improvement over my old, aimless method of goal-setting.

Examples of more effective goal setting

Below are examples of some common goals in the first column, followed by a measurable version of that goal, and finally an actionable plan to make that goal a reality.

Poorly-defined goals: Instead, make it measurable… …and provide an action plan:

I want to lose weight

I want to lose 20 pounds, by July 1

I will do this by keeping track of my daily calorie intake and tracking twice-weekly weigh-ins in a spreadsheet

I want to become more physically fit.

I want to be able to jog five miles in an hour, by June 15.

I will do this by going for a half-hour walk every day and jogging for an hour twice per week

I want to eat healthier

I want to eat five servings of vegetables every day and eat fewer than five servings of meat per week.

I will accomplish this by planning my meals in advance and keeping track of what I eat in a food diary.

I want to increase my wealth

I want to grow my savings to $10,000 by December 1.

I will accomplish this by cutting my expenses, by putting together a budget and reviewing all expenses every Tuesday. I will consider obtaining a second job or freelance work to accelerate my savings.

I want to be happier in my relationship

I want to decrease the number of arguments with my significant other to no more than twice per month on average throughout the next month.

I will accomplish this by keeping a daily diary with my significant other to enhance our communication and identify solutions for our misunderstandings. I will keep track of our disagreements on a calendar or spreadsheet and review with my significant other.

I want to get over my fear of public speaking

I want to be able to give one effective speech at the company lunch meeting each month without stammering or feeling like I might faint.

I will join Toastmasters and pledge to achieve my Competent Toastmaster certificate (which requires presenting a minimum of ten speeches) by January 1.

I want to grow my client base.

I want to add 25 clients by July 15th.

I will accomplish this by forming a marketing plan, and surveying my existing clients.


By following these three simple tricks, I am confident that you will improve the likelihood of achieving your goals. It works for me!

Best of luck in your quest for self-improvement!

About Frank Hurt

A woman once told him, "Frank when you grow up you're going to be brilliant and handsome."

It turns out Frank's mother is pretty good at predicting the future. Almost as good as Frank is at writing his own bio in third-person perspective.


  1. Frank, this is one of the most useful articles I have read on goal setting, and I bet I have read a 100 or more over my 66 years. The graph makes it easy for me to read at a glance the goals and the specific actions I need to take to reach them. And with just a little tweaking, I can make any of the first five goals my own. I am choosing as goals both the one to increase my wealth (and pay off the mortgage) and improve my fitness. (I just read your fabulous article about skipping the gym and exercising at home.) i have saved both articles, I am excited and confident that I will make it a great year.

    • Audrey, thank you so much for your kind words! Feedback like yours continues to motivate and inspire me to dig deeper and reach further. I don’t know much, but I do so enjoy sharing what little I have learned with others.

      I wish you the absolute best of luck in achieving your goals!

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