5 Tips to Help You Achieve Goal Success this Year

5 Steps to Help You Achieve Goal Success this YearIt’s hard to believe, but the clock is running down on 2015. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, it is very easy to overlook setting goals, until you toast the new year and everyone asks what your goals are. This frequently leads to a lot of mumbling. Some will admit they haven’t set goals yet, while others will sputter and say the first thing that comes to mind. In many instances, they repeat something they overheard others say and those aren’t their real goals. But now they put those goals out into the world as their own and think they should attempt to follow-through with them. And most will not succeed.

I don’t say that to be cruel, but goal-setting is serious business and not done on a whim. And goal achievement takes even more dedication and should not be taken lightly. After 23 years of working with clients to help them achieve their financial goals, I know how much thought, work and sacrifice went into their goals. Goal success doesn’t happen without effort and attention.

How To Achieve Goal Success Every Year

Every goal has almost a life of its own. Understanding how that life span works helps prepare you for success. These tips hold true for any goal you want to achieve, financial or not. Every time you set a goal, review these steps first.

1. Choose Goals that Matter to You

This may seem strange, but many people set goals to satisfy others or to fit into social norms or expectations versus setting goals that truly matter to them. As you can imagine, goals you don’t truly care about are difficult to achieve. And frankly, why bother? I know for me, personally, my time is limited and precious, so I make sure my time is spent wisely on the goals that help me create the life I want for myself and my family.

Tips to Creating Your True Goals:

If you truly want to achieve your goals this year and forevermore, this is the most important step. You have to truly want to achieve your goals and know why they matter so much to you.

2. Don’t Set Too Many Goals

The one common mistake I frequently see is people set way too many goals. And I get it. You’re excited by the possibilities and feeling highly motivated, so you set a bunch of goals that you are truly committed to achieving at that moment. And then life happens. It’s okay to identify many potential goals, but then you need to be realistic on how many you can truly accomplish within the year. I generally recommend 1-3 goals per year.

Another smart tip is to also prioritize your goals. Every goal matters but some goals simply matter more. Rank your goals from highest to lowest priority, so when distractions occur (and they will) and time becomes limited, you know which goal to focus on. Otherwise, if you don’t know which goal matters the most, you will likely focus on the easiest, which is understandable, but may also be the goal that means the least.

3. Develop an Action Plan

Setting your goals is the first step but to truly achieve them, you have to develop a corresponding action plan, which is another step many people overlook. They assume setting goals is enough. I wish it was, but it is unlikely you can “will” goal achievement. Vision boards and affirmations can give you clarity and confidence, but you also have to take action to make your goals or dreams a reality.

Set Benchmarks

It’s important that you set benchmarks in your action plan. This will help you monitor your progress and stay on schedule. It is also important that you don’t become too rigid with your action steps because as you delve deeper into your plan, you may discover that some benchmarks need adjusting, which is normal and does not mean you failed.

Schedule Regular Updates

Those who achieve goals don’t set, then forget them. They schedule time to regularly assess their progress and tweak their action plans. Depending on the nature of your goal, determine whether weekly, monthly or quarterly reviews work best. Just find the right balance where you monitor progress without going overboard and driving yourself crazy.

Reward Yourself

Goal achievement doesn’t happen overnight. It can be a long, arduous journey. This is why you need to set some rewards too. Review your action plan and look for some key benchmarks and celebrate them when achieved. Don’t go crazy, but do something to celebrate and acknowledge your progress to keep you motivated and moving forward.

4. Have The Right Attitude

This is so important and something we don’t always think about. I’ve met with people where goals were a burden. Or they were deeply scared about not achieving them. Or they didn’t take them seriously. Then there are those individuals who have the right attitude. They are confident in the goals they chose and their ability to achieve them. Taking action from a place of confidence is what all of us should aim to achieve.

If you find yourself struggling to do so, then you need to figure out why. Is it because the goal isn’t the right one for you? Did you set too many goals? Do you need help? Goal setting is very personal, but you don’t have to achieve goals by yourself. It’s okay to seek help. Not only do I help people reach their financial goals, but I’ve worked with to others to help me achieve personal, business and financial goals too.

5. Accept that Setbacks Will Occur

In a perfect world, this would never happen, but it is very unlikely like the road to goal achievement is perfectly paved with no bumps, potholes or detours. Setbacks will happen. Sometimes they will seem massive, signaling the end of your dream or so you think. This goes back to having the right attitude and mentally preparing yourself to handle setbacks when they occur. If you are not prepared to handle them, you will be more inclined to give-up, which you want to avoid, especially if the goal is something you truly want. Knowing that you are not perfect and that problems don’t equate failure, can help you stay calm in the face of a setback and weather through the storm.

Goal Success is Within Your Reach

Many people think achieving goal is impossible. It’s not. It does take work and commitment though. But I know when the goal truly matters and you follow these guidelines, you can achieve your dreams and create the life you want.

Have you set goals for next year? If so, tell us what there (if you’re comfortable doing so) and how you plan to achieve them.


December 14, 2015  •  26 Comments  •  Goal-Setting

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  1. Monday, December 14th, 2015
    Love this post, Shannon! I'm a huge proponent of setting goals (and visions) every year. It's how I've been able to quit my job and start an entirely new career!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 17th, 2015
      Thanks, Natalie! I'm so excited for all your changes. You're going to help so many people!
  2. Monday, December 14th, 2015
    Great post Shannon! I've become a big believer of the fewer goals mindset the past couple of years. It seemed almost backwards to me at first, but it has really helped at keeping me focused on reaching the ones that truly mattered to me, not to mention more aware of where I might be failing in an area. That being said, I'm in the final stages of setting mine for next year and looking forward to seeing how those pan out.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 17th, 2015
      I've definitely been guilty of setting too many goals in the past too. We all have so much we want to accomplish that it is easy to get carried away. But like you, I find fewer, more important goals are better. You're more motivated and not stretching yourself out so thin. Can't wait to hear your goals for 2016!
  3. Monday, December 14th, 2015
    Great post Shannon! I haven't set my goals yet for next year but soon. I have made the mistake of OG'ing (over-goal'ing) myself in the past and I agree that not having too many is better than too much. You can always add little by little as time permits.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 17th, 2015
      OG'ing, Love it! And you're absolutely right - if you find your have more time, you can always add goals. It's much harder to drop them, without feeling as though you've failed.
  4. Monday, December 14th, 2015
    What is hard for me is to accept that setbacks will occur. Setbacks can make it so easy to drop my goals. A combination of accepting that I could pick up my goals again and patience is helping me work toward my goals! Haven't set goals for next year yet!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 17th, 2015
      A lot of people struggle to accept setbacks, Jen, so you are definitely not alone. And I think knowing that they will occur is key to not quitting. Too many view setbacks as failures, which they are not. It may mean you have to do some reconfiguring and reassess, but it does not mean that your goal is out of reach.
  5. Monday, December 14th, 2015
    #5 is the biggie for me. I tend to get hypercritical of myself, and any fails send me spiraling. So these days I just "try" rather than be determined to "do." That way, when I experience setbacks, I realize that trying isn't the same as succeeding. And as long as I keep up the effort -- assuming *some* progress has been made -- that's what matters.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 17th, 2015
      Everyone is their own worst critic, Abigail. I certainly don't like experiencing setbacks, but I also try to keep the perspective that a setback can only happen when I'm working towards something I want and setbacks can be very valuable lessons.
  6. Monday, December 14th, 2015
    I haven't written down my goals or formalized them yet because I am still trying to figure what I really want to accomplish, not just what I "think" I should accomplish, you know what I mean? That's why I like what you said here: "many people set goals to satisfy others or to fit into social norms or expectations versus setting goals that truly matter to them". I don't want to do that, nor do I want to set unrealistic goals :)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 17th, 2015
      I absolutely know what you mean, Mackenzie, and I'm glad you're taking the time to really set goals that matter to you. It will make a huge difference in your ability to achieve them, because it's really hard to do the work to achieve something you don't even really want.
  7. Monday, December 14th, 2015
    I was discussing 2016 goals with a friend this morning (pretty awesome to have a friend who wants to discuss something as important as goals) and I realized I have a ton of goals. One thing I am working on the next couple weeks is putting them in a priority list, like you recommended. I want to know which goals are most important to me and which can fall to the wayside if needed. I also have "base" goals and "stretch" goals. I want to hit the base goals but hitting stretch goals is even better.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 17th, 2015
      I love friends who are goal-focused too, DC! I have tons of goals too, which is why prioritizing them is so important. Too often I find people focus on the easiest goals, which is understandable, but unless you need an easy win to tackle a harder and more important goal, it's better to put your energy towards the goals that will have the biggest impact. Love that you also set stretch goals too. I think it's important to push yourself within reason.
  8. Monday, December 14th, 2015
    Very helpful tips, Shannon. This year, I am having SMART goals and applying all of your tips because doing this will give me a high chance in achieving my financial goals and guarantees results. And, I am just so excited to start.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 17th, 2015
      Fantastic! Enthusiasm and the right attitude can make a huge difference. Good luck!
  9. Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
    I haven't set my goals in stone yet, but I hope to do so by early next year. I have a big career goal that may take up all the goal space next year, although I usually like to break goals into categories; financial, personal, family, etc.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 17th, 2015
      You've dropped some hints that you have a big opportunity in the works and I"m anxious to hear all about it. :) And it's okay if one goal takes up all your space. Goals are more flexible than people realize!
  10. Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
    Shannon, I love what you said about being wary of sharing broadly. Too much revelation gives more people the chance to speak negatively, too. When we share our goals, we only share with a couple of trusted confidantes. Great post!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 17th, 2015
      It's a sad truth but sometimes sharing too widely opens you up to a lot of criticism and negativity, which can really derail your efforts. I'm glad you have a couple of trust confidants to cheer you on, Laurie!
  11. Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
    For me, I definitely have more success when I limit my goals rather than trying to accomplish too many things at once. I also do well when I write them down and review them constantly to remind myself what I'm working toward.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 17th, 2015
      I really do believe that when it comes to goal-setting, fewer is better. And yes, definitely writing them down and tracking progress is key. Otherwise, it is just way too easy for them to get lost in the busyness of life.
  12. Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
    Setting too many goals and dealing with setbacks are definitely the two hardest things for me to deal with when it comes to my goals. Great post!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 17th, 2015
      Thanks, Cat! I think handling setbacks is one of the hardest things to do. We put so much effort into achieving our goals and it is hard to handle emotionally when we run into a major roadblock. Remembering that everyone experiences setbacks and recalling a few of my triumphs over previous setbacks, helps me pick-up the pieces and move forward again.
  13. Saturday, January 2nd, 2016
    Great tips! I like your point about not sharing your goals too broadly because it can open up your goals to negative comments from others (which can derail your efforts). I never thought of it that way before, but that's an excellent point.
  14. akbar
    Saturday, November 11th, 2017
    hello,I am just starting and want to start monetizing my blog.\
  • Meet Shannon

    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan