Stress-Free Tips for Setting Goals

“So tell me what you want, what you really, really want…”

Lyrics from Wannabe by the Spice Girls


What do you really, really want? The essence of a goal is deciding that you want something badly enough to pay for it with time and energy. A goal is a bridge between your dreams and reality. But before we can cross the bridge, we must first build the bridge. If you’re unsure where you should begin, trying looking at your definition of success. Once you have a few goals written down, use the following stress-free tips to accomplish your goals and keep them at the forefront of your mind.



Types of Goals

While it’s always fun to accomplish goals, it’s frustrating when we don’t finish them. I have a tendency to stress out if I don’t accomplish what I want when I want to, which lead me to realizing that there are two types of goals: Progress Goals and Time Goals.


Progress Goals

Progress goals are great for set deadlines.

Example: I will read a chapter of this book per day.


Time Goals

If you’re new to something or you don’t know how long it could take, I suggest using time goals.

Example: I will read this book for one hour every day.


Measure your goals either by time or progress—depending on your needs—to help reduce stress and achieve success 😉




The word “deadline” is an automatic stress trigger, but if you know your own limits, deadlines can be a help instead of a hindrance. There are two types of deadlines: self-enforced deadlines and other-enforced deadlines. Make it your personal goal to stop procrastinating. An easy way to do this is to never rely on other-enforced deadlines. Set your own deadlines a bit earlier than you have to. The wiggle room will significantly reduce stress.

If possible, try to get someone else to keep you accountable. If you’re a writer, join a small-sized critique group, so they’ll check up on you if you don’t keep your writing up.

While it’s great to have a support group, there are some personal goals that no one will enforce except for you. Keep yourself accountable and measure your progress everyday to avoid slacking off. If you want extra incentive to keep yourself motivated, try to work out some sort of reward system. “If I don’t fall behind within a week, I’ll go out to movies/buy myself nail polish/take Saturday off.”

If you want to keep yourself motivated for a task on a day-to-day basis, try working intensely for twenty minutes (no Facebook, no extra “researching,” no personality quizzes) and take five-minute breaks. Feel free to adjust the time for work and breaks as necessary.

And keep in mind that all goals come in different sizes. Breaking life goals into day-by-day goals will make them achievable.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.”

-Mark Twain




We tend to be rather forgetful creatures. We walk into a room only to forget why we entered in the first place, we misplace everyday objects, and we forget names, birthdays, and ages of family and friends. You’d think the really big, life-goal-type stuff would be easy to remember, right? But even life goals fade into the background and drown underneath the chaos of life unless we fight to keep them in the forefront of our minds.

You’ve heard if something’s out of sight, then it’s out of mind.

So type your goals up, print them, and stick copies in several places you’ll see regularly throughout the day. Or write them on mirrors with dry-erase markers. Make a point to read your goals (aloud is best) every time you see them. Try writing your goals out by hand every morning as part of your routine. Find programs that will send a text or email to yourself in the future as a reminder of where you should have progressed by that point in time. And if possible, find an accountability partner or group. Oftentimes, we keep promises to other people better than we do to ourselves.


You now have a lovely bridge stretching from your dreams and wishes to reality. Though crossing won’t be easy, at least it’s possible thanks to your goal-setting. And, as Dr. Seuss says…

“You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So… get on your way!”

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss


What are some of your life goals? How can you break those goals into smaller goals? Which of these tips did you find most helpful? What tips do you have for setting goals and minimizing stress?

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