What are good techniques, methodologies, or strategies for setting and managing attainable personal goals?

As often as I work to set a corporate mission, vision, goals and strategies at the beginning of every year it struck me I don’t do this for myself in as a formal a way as I do for my work. What are you doing to set and track attainable personal goals? Are there books, blog posts or videos that you have found particularly helpful in setting and managing attainable goals?

When I set personal goals, I like to make sure I incorporate what I like to call, “the three C’s” into my goals.


I must have total control of the outcome. If I can’t control it, then it’s not a good goal.

This year, I made over $1,000 in book sales and I’d love to increase that next year. But I’m not going to set a revenue goal because I ultimately can’t control over how many people buy my books. Instead I’m setting a goal around writing because that is an outcome that I can control.


If I emphasize consistency in my goals, then I’ll be much better off in the long-run because I’m building a habit which will serve me in the future and not just hustling towards the completion of a one-hit wonder.

My stretch fitness goal for 2017 is to complete 150 workouts, which is nearly 3 workouts per week, on average. I can’t do 150 workouts in one week or even in one month, so I have to be consistent and workout about 3 times a week throughout the entire year in order to achieve this goal.


My personal goals must be congruent with my personal values. I’ll never set a goal around something that I don’t care about. Each of my goals ties back to the things I consider most important in my life, like my health or family.

There is a ton of advice and resources out there on goal setting.

You may have heard of Jim Collins’ big, hairy, audacious goals approach for organizations which you can apply to personal goals:

Like the moon mission, a true BHAG is clear and compelling and serves as a unifying focal point of effort– often creating immense team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.

A BHAG engages people– it reaches out and grabs them in the gut. It is tangible, energizing, highly focused. People “get it” right away; it takes little or no explanation.

There’s also the notion that goals are actually inferior to systems. One of the best articles I’ve read on this is by James Clear:

Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

This resonates with me a lot. I don’t even really like the idea of setting goals. I prefer to focus on systems. In fact, the “goals” I’ve set for myself this year are really just systems in disguise.

If you decide building systems or habits is more your thing, I recommend reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

James Clear also wrote a scientific guide to setting and achieving goals, which I like because he frames the idea of a goal in a very different way than what we are accustomed to:

Goal setting is not only about choosing the rewards you want to enjoy, but also the costs you are willing to pay.

Finally, there is the popular SMART goals approach, which is useful for goal-setting rookies because there definitely are differences between good goals and bad goals.

This article by Ramit Sethi on SMART objectives is helpful because it gives you very specific examples of good goals, bad goals, and terrible goals.

If you’re interested in my own personal goals for the upcoming year, check out my blog post:

My 2017 Goals

Featured image by Thomas Tucker.

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