Goal Setting

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

~  Zig Ziglar

Research by Dr Matthews of Dominican University suggests that people who write down their goals benefit from a 76% success rate of achieving them compared to only 43% for those who don’t.

And according to research by Professor Ian Ayres of Yale University, you can increase that success rate to 87.1% if you write a binding contract with financial penalties attached to it should you fail to maintain your habit or not reach your goal.

“Goal setting is one of the most powerful and evidence-based interventions for enhancing performance.”

~  The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Probably the leader in the field of goal setting is Dr Edwin Locke. Locke wanted to answer one simple question, “Why do some people perform better on tasks than others?” After decades of research, Locke and his colleagues concluded there are six key points you have to consider when you set goals:

  1. The more difficult the goal, the greater the achievement
  2. The more specific or explicit the goal, the more precisely performance is regulated
  3. Goals that are both specific and difficult lead to the highest performance
  4. Commitment to goals is most critical when goals are specific and difficult. Goal commitment is the degree to which you are genuinely attached to and determined to reach the goals
  5. High commitment to goals is attained when (a) the individual is convinced that the goal is important; and (b) the individual is convinced that the goal is attainable (or that, at least, progress can be made toward it)
  6. Goal setting is most effective when there is feedback showing progress in relation to the goal

When you know your goals intimately, can describe them in detail, and have them written down, you will know if they are important to you and whether you have the commitment to work continuously towards them, even when the going gets tough; the written and signed binding contract with a penalty clause, should you break your promise, is the icing on the cake.


The following exercise is designed to help you define your goals, the milestones you will reach on the way towards reaching those goals, the direction your life will need to take to reach them, relevant metrics to measure your progress along the way, and a contract to make sure you keep to your promises. Together they will increased the Value of the Motivation Equation and reduce the Delay.


Write down all the goals you want to achieve. Don’t worry if it seems like there are too many as you will probably find many of them are microgoals or milestones. When creating a goal, try to make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.

You can find list of over 100 Bucket List ideas here:


  • Reach my optimum weight
  • Record what I eat for 3 weeks
  • Join a gym
  • Win a fitness competition
  • Get a new job
  • Go on holiday


List some milestones you will reach on the way to achieving your main goals. Start big and then break them down into smaller ones.

  • I will write out 100 Reasons To Succeed today
  • I will lose three pounds of weight in the next two weeks
  • I will achieve a five mile walk
  • I will get into my jeans by Easter next year
  • I will send out 50 CVs by the end of next week


Describe who you would have to become and what type of personality traits and characteristics you would need to adopt to reach your goals.

  • Take my health more seriously
  • Believe I can live a healthy lifestyle
  • Become more confident
  • Become a better parent
  • Be more assertive with people


What can you use to measure your progress?

  • A smartphone app to track my exercise routines
  • A spreadsheet to track my food and drink consumption
  • Evernote to manage my tasks
  • A calendar to track how many days I have exercised

Contracts With Yourself

According to a Harvard Business Review study, people who elect to suffer a financial penalty for not reaching a goal increased their chances of success at reaching their goals by 82.8%. And if the money is going to a charity the person dislikes, the success rate is even higher at 87.1%.

Write a tight, binding contract with yourself and if possible include some financial penalties should you not to maintain the habit or reach your goal.

  • I will do my mini habits EVERY day without fail or give £100 to the local dog shelter
  • I am 100% committed to NEVER eating sugar again and if I do or I will give £1,000 to…
  • I hereby promise to work until my finances are completely up to date every Friday. Signed…

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”

~ Anthony Robbins