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Article: How to set and achieve your goals

How to set and achieve your goals

How to set and achieve your goals

Goal-setting notebook (cover image)

The start of a new year is a perfect time to talk about goal setting.

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years” – Bill Gates.

The same is true of our time across a single year – it’s easy to underestimate what we can achieve in many months, but overestimate what we can do in a single day.

But even so, approximately 80% of people don’t even think about setting goals, and of the 20% that do, 16% of them don’t write them down. And of the 4% that write them down, only 1% of people regularly review them []. These are the people who are more likely to achieve what they set out to!

So what’s the best way to go about setting – and achieving – our goals for a new year? We’ve put together a selection of top tips to help get you off to a good start!

As well as leading Y.O.U Underwear, Sarah Jordan runs a positive change agency called BOLD which helps women achieve success in all areas of their lives. See below for more information and to sign up for their 2021 sessions for more great direction on goal setting and more! 

Lay the groundwork 

  1. Reflect on the past: Think about your life over a previous time period – whether this is a month, 6 months, a year or more. These questions are a useful framework to help you: 

Reflections guide - questions about 2020

  1. Where are you now? Using a quick tool like the wheel of life can be really useful in helping you to understand how satisfied you are with different areas of your life at a particular moment in time. Draw a circle, divide it into 8 segments and label each one with a priority area of your life (e.g. work, family, health, exercise, money). Then put a score in each – this can be out of 10, or a percentage, or anything that works to help you visualise where you are at that time.

  1. Work out your key values – write down 4 or 5 values that are of personal importance to you. Picking goals that are aligned with your values really helps with success - and ensuring you're focusing on things you want to do, not just feel you should. 

Identify your goals and make plans

SMART goals breakdown

Setting the right kind of goal is the key to achieving it! Here are some simple tips on how to set SMART goals for success. Make sure the goals you’re setting are:

  • Specific: clear, simple goals that are easy to pinpoint.

  • Measurable: this will allow you to track your progress and stay motivated. How will you know when it’s accomplished?

  • Achievable: your goal needs to be realistic and attainable in order to be accomplished; it should be possible whilst still stretching your abilities. Think about some of the opportunities or resources you may need to accomplish it.

  • Relevant: Does this goal matter to you, and is it in line with some of your core values? (see above)

  • Time-bound: Give yourself a target date so you have something to work towards and a deadline for your activities. This will also help you to stay motivated!

What’s the best way to write down your goals? Mind-map layouts are a great way of doing this as they’ll allow you to easily break your goals down into achievable steps. It’s always a good idea to break a main goal down into manageable (and SMART) chunks.  

Once you’ve written down your specific goal, think about how confident you are in being able to do this. Identify where you might need help, and who you can ask.

Vision boards are a great way of visualising your goals, and they’re a great resource to refer back to and find inspiration from.  

Dedicating a planner to your goals is also a great idea if you like keeping things in one place. Passion Planners are designed to help you record and keep on top of your goals – check out their website for more info and also some useful free downloadable resources.  

Make commitments and stick to them

The final step is to commit to your goals and stick to the actions you’ve identified! With any goal setting, it’s so important to believe you can accomplish what you’ve set out to. In the words of Henry Ford,

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right.”

Sharing your plans and goals with others can also help you to stay accountable and motivated – it’s always useful to have someone else who can give you a gentle reminder or encouragement when you need it most. So share your ideas!

What goals are you setting this year? What are you trying to accomplish? Leave a comment below - we'd love to hear from you! 

Sustainability in the New Year

A new year is also a great opportunity to reflect back on our habits and lifestyle and decide to make changes that can help the environment - whether this is by taking part in Veganuary, using less plastic, trying to support small, sustainable businesses, and more! So have a think about what you can change in your life to make a difference. 

And it doesn't have to be difficult! Check out our easy top tips guides on everything from reducing single-use plastic to extending the life of your clothing, how to buy second-hand clothing to how to avoid greenwashing. Check out our top tips blog page for more expert tips and tricks!


Sarah leads monthly BOLD events in Oxford and London, and also manages the delivery of group sessions in 5 UK cities, as well as Hong Kong (all obviously now running online!). These sessions are designed to help participants place personal values and vision at the heart of what they do, which Sarah hopes enables them to have clarity and confidence around the decisions they make in all aspects of their life. For great advice and direction on goal setting and much more, visit the BOLD website (or to sign up for their 2021 sessions).  

BOLD logo

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