6 Steps to Achieving All Your Goals


"It may be that those who do most, dream most." — Stephen Butler Leacock

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." — Les Brown

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." — T.S. Eliot

Surrounded with quotes and sayings like these that encourage us to dream big, it's no surprise that we end up with huge lists of giant goals. Rarely does anyone recommend setting just one goal at a time before moving on to the next; instead, we are encouraged to set a lot of large goals. (See also: Move From Being Busy to Getting Things Done)

Do your goals for this year look something like this:

  • Lose 20 pounds.
  • Start a business or get a promotion.
  • Exercise for an hour every day.
  • Save for a six month emergency fund.
  • Spend more time with family.

If so, then you need to prioritize. Here's how.

1. Determine If Accomplishing One Will Affect Accomplishing Another

If you have several big goals, think about how accomplishing one goal will affect another. Will it help or hurt you to reach your other goals?

For example, if one of your big goals is to lose weight and another is to bring your lunch to work every day, accomplishing the second goal will likely help you reach the first goal. So, you should prioritize the goal that will help you achieve a second goal.

But take another example — if one goal is to lose weight and another goal is to control your temper, trying to accomplish one goal will likely have a negative effect on the other. Why? The amount of self control we have is limited. So, if you are using your self control to try to eat less, you will have less self control left with which to control your temper. In this case, put one of the goals high on your priority list and drop the other to the bottom since you won't likely be able to accomplish both at the same time. (See also: 10 Ways to Increase Your Willpower)

2. Determine the Importance of the Goal to Your Health

As you probably remember from the last time you were in bed with the flu for a week, you know that if you don't have your health, you don't have anything. So, a good way to prioritize is to prioritize the goals that will keep you healthy — eating well, exercising, sleeping more, taking time to relax, and giving up your vices. This will ensure that you have the energy to accomplish your other goals.

3. Ask Yourself: Will an Opportunity Pass If You Wait?

Some goals also relate to opportunities we have in front of us right now. Perhaps your goal is to buy a house and the housing market in your area is particularly buyer friendly. Or you want to launch a business, but you're four months pregnant and know that you'll have little time after baby is born. Or imagine someone offers you discounted guitar lessons, and your goal is to learn the guitar this year. Move goals that have a limited timeframe available to the top of your priority list.

4. Ask Yourself: How Will This Affect My Happiness?

Hopefully the majority of the goals on your list will make you happier, but rank each of your goals with a realistic expectation of how happy accomplishing that goal (and the path to accomplishing it) will make you. Remember that anything that brings you a little happiness each day will likely make you happier overall than something that brings you a lot of happiness at once. For example, studies have found that the anticipation and planning leading up to a vacation brings more happiness than the vacation itself. (See also: Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Happier)

5. Determine How Much Time Will It Take You to Accomplish the Goal

For each of your goals, write down a realistic timeframe of how long you think it will take you to accomplish the goal. Then, make sure that you stagger your list so that all of the long-term goals aren't at the top, as this will likely lead to reaching fewer of the goals. Instead, if you have more goals that are easier to accomplish in a shorter timeframe, you will likely get on a roll. Psychologically this will work like the debt snowball method, and you'll accomplish more. (See also: Get More Done With Goal Sequencing)

6. Ask Yourself: How Much Money Will It Cost?

If you don't have the finances to afford a goal right now, it should clearly not be prioritized. But, if accomplishing a goal will lead to increased wealth, then make it a priority over those goals left on your list that won't lead to increased wealth.

When you go through your list of goals and make the six determinations above, you'll be able to prioritize in a way that makes you best able to accomplish your goals in a way that leads to increased health, happiness, and wealth.

How do you prioritize when you have several big goals?

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Guest's picture

What an insightful article! I'm a big list maker and goal setter, but sometimes have trouble prioritizing what's most important or what to accomplish first. These suggestions will definitely help. ;o)