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Seven tips for effective goal setting

- January 10, 2010 2 MIN READ

It’s a great time to set new goals. These tips for effective goal setting are based on neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to help make your goals more lively, fun, and effective!

1. The size of success is determined by size of belief

Make sure you’re focusing on what you want, not on what you don’t want. As Sydney Smith said, ”Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.”

And remember that any limiting beliefs you have about yourself or your abilities will only hinder your ability to reach your goals, so get rid of them quick smart!

2. Link your goals to your past and your present

Before you set goals for your future, take some time to reflect on your past goals and what you’ve achieved.

Often we don’t recognise how far we’ve actually come. Track back even a year, and you may be surprised at how much you’ve achieved, and are achieving right now.

Get into a nice warm and fuzzy zone by reflecting on your recent successes before you start to set your future goals.

I find that writing out what I’m proud of and grateful for is a great way to get into the warm and fuzzy zone, and it becomes an anchor for me. Every time I read through my list of successes, I get into a state of mind that’s automatically positive, motivated and proactive.

Want more articles like this? Check out the setting business goals section.

3. Discover the pictures, sounds and feelings of your goals

This is perhaps one of the most important steps to effective goal setting with NLP. Use your senses to make your goals become truly alive in your mind. When you decide the goal and write it down, take time to make it real in terms of its Visual (picture), Auditory (sound) and Kinaesthetic (feeling) elements.

Take yourself out there into the future and really see, hear and feel what it is like to have achieved that goal. I call this ‘VAK-ing’ your goals.

4. Include the reasons behind your goals

For the most effective goal setting, when you write out your goals, make sure you include the reasons behind wanting or needing to hit them. This gives them relevance and perspective.

5. Write them down

In terms of actually putting your goals to paper, I’m sure you’ve heard of the famous study conducted in the 1950’s in which only 3% of students graduating from Yale had written goals for their future. By 1973, those 3% were worth more than the other 97% put together. Enough said.

6. Create alignment

When deciding on your goals, think of your conscious mind as your ‘goal-setter’, and your unconscious mind as your ‘goal-getter’. The two need to be aligned, because if they’re not, you may find you get inconsistent results.


SMART is an acronym to help you structure your goals in a way that makes them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Keep that in mind, but aim high too. As Donald Trump would say, ”You’re going to think anyway, so you may as well think big!“

What are your goals, and what are you doing to make sure they happen? ‘Fess up below so we can all hold you to them!