Basic Goal Setting Essentials

Do you set goals – like actually sit down and take the time to DO goal planning? Are you someone who gets excited to look over the past year, make notes of your achievements, and make detailed plans for the upcoming year? Yeah, me either. Well, I never used to. I actually began doing basic goal setting the past couple of years. This year I intentionally focused on the two basic goal setting essentials, because I am really feeling a need to get better at 1) planning ahead and 2) recognizing my achievements.

So, this time, when I sat down to set goals for the upcoming year, I focused on the WHY and the HOW – the two basic goal setting essentials.

basic goal setting essentials

First Basic Goal Setting Essential – WHY

In order to get fired up about and actually do the “work” towards any goal you set, you need to be clear about the reason that you’re doing it. If you don’t have a good enough reason that really resonates with you, other “priorities” will take over and you won’t be taking steps towards the goal. 

One of my goals is to sell my house this year. Currently, my house is NOT in any shape to sell at all. It needs a LOT of work – some little things and some really big things need done. I’m fairly comfortable in this house. I’ve lived here since 1996 and although it’s not the nicest or in the best shape, it is home. 

So WHY do I want to sell it? Why is this a goal of mine? Well, since I’m in my 50’s now (not just 50 – IN MY 50’s!),  I want to be able to be available for my parents as they get older (they don’t live nearby) and I also have a desire to travel. I want to explore the world and also travel to be with my children (pretty sure they won’t be staying nearby forever). 

So for these things to happen, I will need to be more “location independent” and not tied to a house (or job) that keeps me in a single location.

That is why selling my house is a priority. My WHY for this goal is to travel and really boils down to FAMILY. For a lot of us, our goals can be tied to family or relationships. It’s just a huge part of life, something really important to us.

Because there is a lot of hard work that goes into selling a house, I could easily put off doing the tasks that are required to get the house ready. Things like pulling up old carpet, replacing cracked tile in the bathroom, etc. do not sound fun to me. (I’m planning to do a lot of this myself since I don’t want to spend a ton of money. And, hey what is youtube for anyway?) But, since I know WHY I’m doing these projects, I am much more likely to just get them done/check them off. 

Something I found pretty cool was that all of my goals came down to the same WHYs – I can trace the reasons for each of my goals back to the same things. Although I have other WHYs, all of my goals seemed to be interconnected and related to the fact that I don’t want to be tied down to a house/specific location. This type of harmony will increase my chances of success in all areas! So, yay! 

Second Basic Goal Setting Essential – HOW

After I wrote out my goals and my WHYs, I focused on the HOWs. Again, in order to actually make progress towards a big goal, you need to figure out how it’s going to happen.

To really get anything done and not get overwhelmed, I need to break down the goals into pretty small chunks or tasks. Sometimes this is the hardest part for me. 

I get stuck in the HOW because I am a procrastinator/perfectionist. I get stuck here because I tend to think there must be a better way. Well, I’ve found out that it doesn’t matter if there is a better way. The most important thing is to just DO IT. (Done is better than perfect any day…and really, there is no such thing as perfect anyway.) 

So, to sell my house, I made a list of all of the things that need done in each room and on the property. I thought it would be totally overwhelming, but it actually helped to see it and I realized it isn’t quite as much as I thought.

Some things will need done by a professional, but others I can do and I can get others to help (Hey family – talking to you!).

The most important thing to remember is not to get stuck procrastinating, overthinking, or being indecisive. People who succeed are the ones who never give up. They may fail over and over, but they keep on going. 

Doing something – anything actually – creates momentum. The definition of momentum is: strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events.

When you take a step toward your goal, you gain strength or force that pushes you along and leads to more actions which get you closer and closer to your goal. (Momentum was my word of the year for 2019.) 


Of course, for any plan, you will want to remember that things change! Life happens! Some of it will be super crappy and challenging. That’s why it’s so important to also have an established set of well-being practices in place. 

These things will help you to get through the hard stuff – for example: mindfulness, meditation, breath work, acceptance, journaling, gratitude, movement/exercise, or other things that you have found that work for you. The things you keep in that tool kit will help you to remain calm, handle the stressors, and notice when you’re doing too much or need a break.

And, because things do change and life happens, your goals and plans need to remain flexible. Sometimes it just makes sense to go in a different direction or change course in some way. That is ok and doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. You may be like me and need to regularly remind yourself to stick with the plan and not always be quick to change it up or look for another “better” option (shiny object syndrome).


Don’t downplay your successes; it’s so important to recognize all that you’re doing along the way! I found this awesome idea from an article in Inc. where they reference accepting compliments, especially from yourself. They recommend writing down three things you did during the day that you felt good about – no matter how small. 

Include anything – like complimenting someone’s work, thanking your partner for doing the dishes, or ripping out section of carpet (did that today – side note: have I mentioned that you should never ever have carpet?!). 

I love this idea. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t always do such a good job of recognizing my successes and tend to downplay what I do accomplish. I know I’m not alone here – talking to you! So, I really recommend doing this exercise as part of your daily journaling or gratitude practice. 

I want to see all of us reach our goals, live our dreams, and enjoy all the moments along the way! Let’s start with these basic goal setting essentials and get that momentum going!

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for more on these topics, other resources, fun stuff, and, ya know, just to be social! 

Email me if you have other ideas about basic goal setting essentials. And, let me know how it’s going for you at the start of this New Year (or whenever you’re reading this). 


This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Jenifer

    I love goal setting and I do it monthly. You have great tips here for connecting with the “why” the goal is important. That really helps you keep moving forward. The “how” is obviously a huge key to success. I like to add deadlines and measureable goals to help me stay on track. Hope everything goes well with selling your house and being able to visit your kids. Sounds awesome!


    1. Lisa

      Using deadlines and measurable goals are awesome tips!! Thanks for reading, commenting, and for your good wishes Jenifer!!
      All the best,

  2. Anne

    It’s all about the why, if you don’t specify one or more you’ll have a hard time reaching your goals. I’m with you my 50’s has been my greatest age yet. Do much to learn, so much to do. I never used to be a goal setter, but I find if you don’t set them the years just pass and you get to a point where you ask yourself, what have I done with my life. Thanks for writing such a great post.

    1. Lisa

      You’re so right! I feel the same way – I feel like I am intentionally living life now, rather than it just passing me by. Thank YOU so much for reading and leaving a note!
      All the best Anne,

  3. Heike Yates

    Such a good read! The why is where we start gaining clarity and not feel overwhelmed by life. That makes diving into the how much more manageble.

    1. Lisa

      Thanks so much Heike! SOOO appreciate your feedback!

  4. Suzana Barton

    I recently found an old list of goals I’d lost from 10 years ago. It was shocking to me to see how much what I want has changed. Also, I’ve become (for the most part) who I dreamed of being. Time for some new goals! Becoming “location independent” is definitely going to be on my new list!
    ~ Suzana Barton

  5. Rosemary Davis

    I’m a true goal setter, who backslides every now and again. This is a terrific read! Thanks for sharing.

    I have found that many times when I have reached a goal, that’s when I backside. Forget how and why I got here. Thanks, again for this great reminder!


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