The System: 3 Different Methods to Achieve Your Goals

If there is one thing that I absolutely love it is setting goals, creating strategies, and writing out checklists. Ok, maybe that was three different things but they all go hand in hand.


I was absolutely shocked to find out is that there are many different methods for goal setting. I have so commonly seen and used the SMART method, that I didn’t know there are a slew of different options!


So in the spirit of the new year and a clean slate let’s look at 3 different ways you can up your goals (if you haven’t already created an awesome plan for 2020).



A review of the SMART goal Technique


Since this technique is commonly used in corporate settings and fitness settings, I would venture to say that you are already familiar with this method. Each letter of this acronym stands for an action that you should consider to set achievable goals. The letters stand for:


  • Specific – The first step is to get clear about your goal. Start by identifying the end state of your goal with as much detail as possible.

  • Measurable – You know how the saying goes, if it can’t be measured then it can’t be improved.

  • Attainable – The best goals are a little bit of a stretch but not impossible. Finding the “Goldilocks” of goals in the middle is the sweet spot for keeping you motivated.

  • Relevant – It’s always important to set goals that are meaningful right now.

  • Time Bound – They say that goals without a deadline are really just wishes.


Pros: There are a lot of great elements in this system. Creating very clear and measurable goals helps you to understand the target and know when it has been achieved. Making sure that it is relevant and achievable helps you to set goals that will really keep your attention because they serve a purpose.


Cons: The only potential down fall that I see with this technique is the time bound portion. While we know that a deadline is a great motivational tool, I recommend that you do some reflection to decide is missing the deadline will cause you to feel like a failure. Sometimes we set goals where we can never really “arrive” but the continual progress is the most important part.


A review of the HARD goal Technique


Similar to the SMART method, each letter of the HARD technique stands for an action that you should consider to achieve your goals. Instead of focusing on goals that are relevant and achievable, the difference with HARD goals is the focus on challenge and passion. To kick off this process, first you need to identify the goal and then answer the questions related to its achievement.


  • Heartfelt – This step helps you to identify your emotional attachment to the goal. You can use the 5 why’s method to uncover the deeper layers of your desires and motivations for the goal.

  • Animated – This step requires you to use visualization and think about what it will look like and feel like to achieve your goal. Think, “what does it look like done?” Get in to a pattern of visualizing the outcome of your goal.

  • Required – Decide how this goal is related to your future and what the milestones are to achieve the goal. Set up short term targets and long-term targets.

  • Difficult – Set goals that are really challenging. Then back the challenge up by identify 3-5 habits or skills that you will need to develop to achieve your goal. Identify ways that you will learn and apply the new skills and habits.


Pros: This system is all inclusive. It requires you to think about the goal, articulate why it is meaningful, and create a system to achieve the goal. The method has accountability built in to the process. Using emotion and repeating visualization helps you to remember why the goal is important.


Cons: I actually can’t think of any cons for this process. As long as you are working the plan and staying focused you will find progress and achievement.


A review of the WOOP goal Technique


Another acronym method! This one sounds really fun though, right? Simple and straightforward this is a great option for those that just want to get down to business without the pomp and circumstance of an elaborate method.


  • Wish – Start by setting your goal or intention.

  • Imagine the Outcome – Visualize the outcome of the goal and how you will feel when you have accomplished it.

  • Identify Obstacles – This step is exactly as easy as it sounds. Write down a list of potential obstacles

  • Plan and Pivot – Then create your action plan and contingency plan if obstacles do pop up.


Pros: This plan clearly allows for flexibility with a straightforward method. We already know that using visualization and emotion is a great way to keep motivation high.


Cons: Another system that has all of your bases covered!


What method have you used in the past? Do you think you’ll make a change now that you may have new options?


Craving more information on this topic? I recently read the book, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. He has a very inclusive article outlining the topics of his book that will help you not only set goals but create the habits necessary to achieve them.


Goal Setting: A Scientific Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals

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