Setting Goals & Sticking To Them

Goal setting in 2021

It’s set to be a strange year, but don’t let external forces mess with your mindset. Goal setting is a great practice for the New Year, and it’s crucial you do it in a way that keeps you fired up and focused all year long. Are you using tired, outdated goal setting methods? Or are you bang up to date with setting goals and sticking to them? Here’s what the science says about setting goals & sticking to them.

Why some goals are successful

You need to get really clear about your goals, identify any barriers and blocks and get serious about timescales. Otherwise, that “goal” is a day dream. And the problem with constantly living in a fantasy land is that your brain rests easy, thinking it’s already achieved what you want. You need to keep it in the present.

Your Wheel Of Life

Before you start setting your 2021 goals, assess what life is like right now. Complete a “wheel of life” by drawing a big circle, splitting it into 6 or 8 sections, and labelling them up as relevant parts of your life. You might choose health and fitness, work, homelife, finances, personal development, social and friends.

Now rate these sections from 1-10 on a scale of satisfaction (10 being “I’m right where I want to be with this!”)

Join up each section with a line, and you’ll have a clear visual representation of where you need to focus your energy for the year ahead.

“Just right” goals

Leadership coaches often refer to “Goldilocks goals” – goals that aren’t too soft, but aren’t too hard either. They are just right for you. Combine this way of thinking with the traditional “SMART” model of goal setting and you will pick goals you are likely to achieve.






Before you go ahead, check in with those Goldilocks questions: Is this goal too soft for me? Too hard? Am I sure it’s “just right” for me with the mindset and resources I’ve got available to me?

Take ownership of your goal

When we take complete ownership of a project, it causes what scientists call the “endowment effect” – where the goal almost becomes part of our identity. (1)

Use this powerful psychological tool by simply writing your goals down. Be specific, have a plan, commit to it – and remind yourself of it every day.

Reverse engineer your goals

Most goal setting fails because people choose a goal and work towards it. That wouldn’t be effective with a work project, house build, or savings plan! Instead, you should map out your goal pathway. This is known as shifting from outcome goals to process goals. (2)

Where are you now in relation to your goal?

What resources and support do you have?

What more do you need (and how will you fill those gaps)?

What could prevent you from getting there?

What barriers or blocks could get in your way?

How will you minimise or remove these?

Sketch out any possible path from now to your goal (there may be several).

Which is the best one for your schedule and resources?

When do you want to achieve the goal by?

When will you need to start, and how fast will you have to move?

What will your very first step be – and when will you take it?

What will you use as accountability tools or support?

Accountability hacks for achieving your goals

Accountability is one of the most powerful tools for achieving goals. Before you embark on day one of your 2021 goal process, identify how you will stay accountable.

1. Training partner or coach who will keep you accountable?

2. Using an app or software designed to help you track your progress?

3. A friend or family member who will excitedly accept your check in?

4. Self-accountability through journaling, wall calendar or white board?

5. Going public with your goal through social media or a blog?

Don’t start your 2021 goals without an accountability tool. Choose one that will be there every day. Make sure it’s something that will work for you.

Ready to get goal setting for 2021? We’d love to hear what you’ve got planned. Tag us #performsmart and let us know!



Nicola is a specialist freelance copywriter for the fitness industry @thefitwriter