How to set goals effectively - A simple framework

How to set goals effectively for 2021

Wanting to know how you can set goals effectively this year and actually stick to them? Well keep your eyes peeled to this article as I write about some key steps to help you actually stick to your key goals this year, regardless of Corona or not. 

Many of my clients, friends and family members have stuck to this advice in order for them to stick to their goals, not just for this year, but for previous years also. And, so I want to share this information to help you, ambitious individuals actually stick to your goals, because sometimes procrastination and distractions kick in.

This article assumes that there is a 12-month goal you have in mind and so help you develop clear thinking around how you should plan for your attack. Let’s get started and help you set goals effectively for this year!

The Rule of One

The first thing I want to say is: stick to a primary aim. Napoleon Hill talks about this in his book Think And Grow Rich. The idea is that, yes, we have many goals and things that we want to achieve, but having one primary aim enables us to focus, and make sure that we stick to doing what we said we were going to do long after the feeling has gone. So, for example, that one aim may be something like, wanting to make 100K this year, losing 20Kg of body fat self-publishing your first book.

We all have something that we want to be successful in and sometimes many of our goals just roll over year after year. But if you commit to the idea of being focused on one main thing, then you’re in a position where you’re going to be more successful. 

It’s all about milestones

The second thing is to make sure that you have key objectives that are aligned to your primary aim. So if you don’t know what your key objectives are, this can be something that you brainstorm. So the way I think about this is make sure your objectives are in chronological order; pretty much like milestones.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • What are the steps you need to take for your goal? 
  • What are the key milestones that you need to achieve in order for you to reach your primary aim?
  • Does this fit into your anticipated timescales of 12 months?

Using the example of publishing your book, key milestones could be (and this is made up):

  • Researching and deciding your niche
  • Writing your 1st draft of the book
  • Editing your book and developing the front-cover 
  • Publishing your book and marketing it for sales

The point I’m making is that these key objectives are almost like the road lights that guide your path towards your primary aim. So, again, you can brainstorm your objectives or you can actually research this stuff if you know there are people who have actually achieved this already. 

Cut the pie into 4

You now need to translate your milestones yearly quarters Q1 – Q4. These 90 day points will help you to review your progress per quarter. So for quarter one, you may have a specific set of goals that you need to achieve. For quarter two, it may be slightly different, etc, etc. So make sure you’re able to break things up because if you do this, it becomes more real, and more tangible. This is a coaching technique that coaches use to actually help their clients move forward. It’s something known as Wisdom in Hindsight

Actually… Give me 12 pieces

The next step now is to make sure that you break up those quarters into months. Breaking it up into months makes it even more sizable and manageable. It helps you to better visualize what you need to be doing. Quarters are a bit more out of reach because of the length of time. However, months feel more reachable and “workable.” Let’s say, for example, between January – March you decide you need to focus on PR and marketing. You know your monthly activities predominantly, should be more intended towards PR and Marketing, which allows you to plan and measure your progress better. So focus on making sure you have key activities or key actions per month.

In fact, give me 52…

You can see where this is going. Do the same thing for your weeks as well and break up those months into weeks, because as you go backwards, you’re creating a Russian doll effect and it creates crystal clarity. You may say to yourself, “I don’t know what I’m going to be doing in quarter three or quarter four?” What I would do is make sure you at least write aims for Q1 – Q4, and then plan out the months and weeks for Q1.

At the end of Q1 which is your 90-day review, start planning Q2 as you did for Q1. It’s totally up to you how you want to do it, but this rhythm works for me well. I hope you are starting to see how you can set goals effectively with this framework.

Give me order!

The next thing I’d like to say is that it’s all well and good writing down your weekly, monthly, and quarterly plan, however, you need to have some sort of idea of what’s happening in a typical week. Write Monday to Sunday, and really dedicate time to those specific days to do specific things. 

For example, if you’re trying to lose weight you could have:

  • Monday: Gym day
  • Tuesday: Park day
  • Wednesday: Meal prep part 2 
  • Thursday: Speak to your coach and workout
  • Friday: Admin day

This is applicable in areas of business, careers and any other 3 – 12 month personal goal personal goals. Even though this may feel or appear rigid, you’ll be surprised how much more time or flexibility you have in your day. This is why having one primary aim helps.

If it’s hard to set themes for your days then commit to completing a 1-week audit. You can do this manually or use something like RescueTime to help you do this. But usually it pretty much is common sense, but let me refrain from making any further assumptions.

Cards that you can see

You may want to use the Kanban board process, using either mobile applications, post-it notes and other means. Apps include: Trello, Asana or Notion and allow you to have the columns: 

  • Backlog
  • To-do
  • Doing
  • Complete

As a reminder tasks are written on cards and are moved from one column to another in chronological order. Each column represents that status of each task or activity and acts as a prompt for progress. This process supports ‘The Rule of One’ when you only put one task in the ‘doing’ column at a time.

Look back and learn

Also, make sure that you actually review your progress, your systems, your goals and how it’s all set up. There are different ways in which you can review your progress.

Creating accountability

You can do it by yourself, but I’m an avid big believer in making sure that you utilize other people to help you review. So that may be an accountability buddy, mastermind group or action learning set, as stated in my previous content.

Professional help

Potentially you may need a coach, trainer or mentor. If you need a coach, holla your boy! Picking something who has the credentials, experience or skills to help you get closer to your goal may be the best investment you make. 

These are some ways you can create accountability, and they make up a big part of your system. It creates structure and impetus which may not be present based on your own willpower.


So there you have it. Now you know exactly how you can set goals effectively specifically for this year. Although people talk about systems and habits, it always starts with intention, in essence a goal. What you do to progress you towards that goal is the systems, routines, rituals and habits. Hopefully this article has given you a framework for how you can better plan your goals

You can watch the video associated with this article below

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