• Denise Cartagena

4 Ways to Set Up Your Goals So That You Can Actually Achieve Them

Welcome back to this Creating Change Series! If you haven’t already read them, check out the first two articles about creating change. This week, we’re going to focus on how to create the change you’re committed to making. So let’s visualize an accurate picture. You’ve recently become aware of something in your life you’d like to change (i.e. “Huh. I’ve put on a few pounds. I don’t want to keep them”). You then thought about why making this change can benefit you and if it’s worth it to pursue this change (i.e. “I used to be so toned. I know I’ve been eating out of boredom more often than I’d like. I can definitely make this happen considering everything else going on in my life right now. It’s the perfect time”). You decided to commit to making this change.

Here we are at the third stage of change: Determination. During this stage, we’ve committed to this change and we’re going to figure out how to make it happen. Don’t worry, you don’t have to take serious action just yet, but here are some ways to map out your goals so that you can actually achieve them this time:

1. Break down your goal to the smallest possible size

Start by understanding all the moving parts of your goal. What specifically are you trying to achieve? What are all the things that go into making this change? Do those need to be broken down too? When do you want to start working on your goal? When do you want to have it achieved by? What might you need to make this change possible? By understanding all that goes into your goal to create a change, you’re able to see the guidelines that you’ll be working within. You’re setting the boundaries between making it happen and staying the same. You’re also able to identify baby steps you can start with.

If we stick to the example above of wanting to lose some weight, we might find the following criteria:

  • I want to lose 10 pounds

  • I can start on Monday and want to have this goal completed by October 31

  • In order to make this happen, I have to exercise and adjust my diet.

  • I need to come up with an exercise schedule and specific workout

  • I’ll do yoga twice a week, and run 2 miles once a week

  • I need to cut out snacks that are bad for me

  • Throw away the rest of them and don’t buy them at the grocery store

  • I need to go grocery shopping

  • I’ll make a shopping list for all the meals I plan to eat that support my goal of losing weight

  • I’ll eat in 5 days a week, and allow myself to eat out twice a week

  • I need to figure out where in the house I will do yoga

  • I need a yoga mat

  • I need to figure out where I will run

2. Identify baby steps

Once you have your plan organized, identify all the baby steps that will lead you in the direction of your goal. This will map out exactly what you need to do to achieve your goal. Here’s the next step in our example:

  1. Write my goal on the calendar

  2. Decide what homemade meals I will eat

  3. Make shopping list

  4. Go grocery shopping

  5. Get rid of all unhealthy snacks (ice cream, chips, etc.)

  6. Buy a yoga mat

  7. Decide where I will stream online yoga classes

  8. Dust off running shoes

  9. Decide where I will run and how I will measure out 2 miles

  10. Decide which days I’ll do yoga and which I will run

It’s important to break down your goal into baby steps. Remember that you’re attempting to create a change in your life, and you have been in your comfort zone. The change will make it uncomfortable, challenging you. If you break your goal into baby steps, it will be easy for you to start achieving things right away, fostering your self-confidence, which will get you even more motivated to keep going. Also, when you set the bar extremely low, you’re likely to achieve more! For example, referring to the list above, if I write my goal on my calendar and cross it off my to-do list, I might feel comfortable deciding my meals. Once I do that, I might realize how little time that took, cross that off, and create a shopping list. By this time, I have already completed 3 things on my list in 20 minutes! Monday is still a few days away!

3. Use the right language!

This is especially important! Recognize how you refer to your goal. Remember that at this point, you’re committed, so own your growth! Don’t stay on the fence about it. You’ve also mapped out exactly how you’re going to get there. When speaking about your goal, use “I will…” By saying “I will”, you’re connected, taking it seriously, determined to make it happen. In contrast, if you keep referring to your goal by saying “I want to…” you’re allowing your goal to remain an abstract thought or dream, so achieving it (or not) feels just as abstract.

4. Get accountable

I kind of mentioned this in the example, but it’s probably the most important part, so I’m going to explicitly list it here again. This is not optional. I’m not going to sugarcoat this for you. You’ve just committed to making yourself uncomfortable and vulnerable to old behaviors and habits. You will be challenged, and you will be tempted to give up. Be responsible for yourself. Show up for the person you want to become. Make great things happen because you can! This is exactly how you should go about holding yourself accountable:

  1. Decide when you want to have this goal completed and be specific “By the end of fall” is not good enough. I mean like the specific date you want to have this completed, like Dec. 21, 2020.

  2. Literally write this on your calendar or set up an alert on your phone When you can physically see it, you feel as though you actually have it on your agenda and that its due date is coming up soon.

Pro Tips

  • Mark your calendar at the halfway point between now and when you will have completed your goal. This way you can check in with yourself and see if you’re still on the right track or if you need to adjust some things. This is especially great for goals that will be completed in a few months (i.e. 12/21/20).

  • Find a partner! Have someone else do your check ins. Have them shoot you a text or set up a time to meet where they can ask about your progress and make sure you’re doing the things you’ve said you’ll do. How might this person best support you so that you can truly and fully achieve your goal?

I know this all might seem like a lot, but if you’re really motivated and committed to make this change like I know you are, these few steps will really help you in the long run. Know this: if you’re still reading this article, you’re a person who is at the very least, interested in learning ways to achieve goals and facilitate your growth. You are capable of making the change you’ve had in mind for some time now. Believe in yourself like I believe in you. These steps are not exclusive to a small amount of people, they are accessible to anyone. However, only few will take them to the level they are meant to be taken. You can do this.

If this resonates with you and you want more on how to map out your goal, download my FREE worksheet. Remember to follow on Instagram for more inspiring content, or sign up for emails to stay updated on blogs, events, and offerings!

Next week, we’ll move onto the next stage of change: Action. Stay tuned and talk soon!

Happy Growing & Best Wishes,


P.S. It’s literally my job to hold people accountable! If you need a partner in your endeavors, I’m here for you! If you’re interested, please set up a complimentary consultation to learn more!