Free printable goal setting worksheet. The experts were wrong- not all goals need broken down. When you goal is different, habits are better.
If you’ve followed me for any time, you know I am passionate about goals and achievement. I mean passionate like the Cookie Monster for cookies. Or teen girls for glittery earrings.
The traditional advice for setting goals is that they need broken down into milestones. Goals such as starting a business or writing and publishing a novel. It’s normally good advice.
But for a lot of goals, that advice is useless. Those particular goals- ones without milestones or mid-course behavior changes– are what this free printable goal setting worksheet is for.
Table of contents
- How to set goals
- When the traditional advice doesn’t work…
- Systems, not goals
- How to use the worksheet
- Free Printable Goal Setting Worksheet
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How to set goals
There are entire books on goal-setting. Since we don’t have time to be that detailed, I’ll stick to sharing some guidelines.
- Write your goal down.
- Make a specific plan. Just wanting isn’t going to achieve anything. Despite what popular books might say.
- Check on your goal progress OFTEN. This can be as much as daily. But weekly at the very, very minimum. (For the goals below that rely on habits for achieving them, daily is probably best.)
- Be specific about your goal. Example: “I want to lose 20 pounds” not “I want to get healthier.” Goals without specific, measurable markers are unlikely to be achieved.
- Analyze the cost of reaching your goal. And be willing to pay it. Losing 20 pounds is going to mean giving up that piece of cake or slice of pizza. A lot of times, not just once. So start with honesty. If you’re not willing to put in the effort, don’t bother.
- Prioritize your goals. And focus on the most important first. While you might be able to start a new business, lose 50 pounds, and train for a marathon simultaneously, it’s not likely. In fact, you’re less likely to achieve ANYTHING if you try to focus on EVERYTHING.
When the traditional advice doesn’t work…
The traditional goal setting advice- advice I give myself- is to break down your goals. The free printable goal workbook sign-up below is based on that concept. It works great for goals such as building a retirement fund. That goal has specific milestones: pay off all debt, build an emergency fund, (maybe) pay off house, fully fund retirement. And each of those milestones results in a change in strategy.
But for some goals, that advice is useless. For example, if you want to lose 100 pounds. You CAN make up milestones. But why? Your behavior to lose the weight is going to be the same during the losing the first 10 pounds as the last 10 pounds. Reaching milestones doesn’t require a change in behavior or strategy.
The same for starting a walking regime. You can make up milestones. But basically you just start walking. And increase pace and/or time walked. And you finish your goal walking.
That’s where the free printable goal setting worksheet below comes in.
Instead of making up milestones, we’re going to identify habits (or systems) that will achieve the result we want. Then focus our energy on making those habits a part of our life.
Systems, not goals
I have an entire post: Improve Your Life. How to Use Goals Vs. Systems.
But- quickly- the basic premise is that along with setting goals, you need to set up systems that are geared towards what you want to achieve. Example: If your goal is to write a book, you dedicate yourself to 5 pages or 1,000 words a day. Or if your goal is to lose weight, you set up a system where you track your calories every single day. No matter what.
The reason for this is best summed up by one of the people who recommend this.
Scott Adams said something that I think is worth quoting in full. It really struck me and my paraphrasing isn’t going to give it its due:
Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous presuccess failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do…
The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn. The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system. That’s a big difference in terms of maintaining your personal energy in the right direction.
This worksheet is based on the systems idea. (Though I firmly believe BOTH goals and systems are necessary. In the post I go into why all systems don’t work).
I cannot overemphasize how important systems/habits are. My BIG thing with losing weight was tracking my food. Not even necessarily restricting my calories. Just forcing myself to track every calorie.
But I took a break on vacation. And gained three pounds. And then didn’t get back in the habit. All of the sudden, it was three weeks later. And I had gained another two pounds. I wasn’t binging or anything. Just getting out of the habit of being super-aware of what I was eating caused me to lose progress.
I’m back to tracking every day. Even on the days I indulge in a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (which has over 500 calories for 1 & 1/3 cups, in case you were curious). I don’t think I’ll be buying any more of THAT…haha.
How to use the worksheet
What this worksheet is for:
As I mentioned above, this worksheet is designed for goals that don’t break down easily.
Goals such as losing weight, starting a walking/running regime, or improving your sleep schedule are just a few that might qualify.
What this worksheet is not for:
If your goal requires major break downs and planning- such as starting a business- then this worksheet isn’t going to be as helpful.
It might be helpful in the MIDDLE of particular stages. But as an overall plan, it’s not the ideal tool for the job. In these type of cases, you should check out my Free Printable Goal Setting Workbook.
My goal is…
The first section is where you’ll fill out what your goal is. Keep in mind the advice above: a specific, measurable goal is usually better. Example: lose 50 pounds, not get healthy. Or run a 10 min/mile for 2 miles, not get in shape.
Why this goal is important…
The second section is where you fill out why the goal is important to you. It’s important not to skip this. In my product “Goal Achievement Binder,” I go into detail on why finding the fundamental why behind your goal is so important.
The road is going to be rocky at some point. There is going to come the day when you just don’t want to put in the effort. When you can’t imagine dedicating another minute to this goal. That’s when you need to think back to your fundamental why. Exactly why are you willing to pay the price for this goal.
Note that it’s important to have your OWN why. Not someone else’s. Not society’s. It doesn’t matter if society prefers skinny people. If you don’t personally have a reason to lose weight, you’re not going to. I can speak from vast personal experience on this one (I’m down 35 pounds right now!)
What life will be like…
Take a few moments and envision what life will be like when you’ve achieved your goal.
When I was significantly overweight, I was shocked how much my mobility was affected past a certain point. Just envisioning being able to go for a walk without my back hurting so bad I cried was a beautiful vision to me.
Habits/systems to achieve…
Here’s the key part. You need to brainstorm some habits that will help you achieve your goal.
In the case of losing weight, here are my habits (in order of priority): track food, calories under 1,200 per day, eat 5 servings of fruit/veggies, eat 3 servings of protein.
It’s important to rank them in order of priority. For me tracking my calories is the #1 issue. Even if I go over on calories, simply TRACKING helps me lose weight. (As it’s been shown to do by research.)
My second priority is to eat under calories. My third and fourth habits (fruit/veggies and protein) actually help me do that. If I’m stuffed on veggies and fruit, it’s harder to find room for that bowl of ice cream.
The last section of the worksheet is to identify potential problems and solutions. This is especially important since our whole basis of reaching our goal is to follow our new, better habits.
So think ahead to what might derail you. And come up with a possible solution.
For me and weight loss, eating out is a pitfall. So I look at the menu (and calories) before I even step foot in the restaurant. And decide what I want. It’s easier to make an intelligent, informed, healthy choice at that point in time.
You might also fill this out as you go along. For example, let’s say you’re making a running goal. And you notice that you miss your habit of “15 minutes running every night after I get home” consistently on nights you work late. So you need to come up with a potential solution- stop working late, force yourself to run before you eat dinner, running at lunch, or something else that works for you.
Free Printable Goal Setting Worksheet
I hope you found the free printable goal setting worksheet helpful!
Comment below and tell me what goal you’re going to use it for.
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