3 Effective Goal Setting Methods to help you create better Goals


Learning the right way to set goals is one of the simplest ways to enhance performance.

The good news is that it doesn’t require exceptional talent to work.

The bad news is that there are right and wrong ways to goal setting.

Setting the wrong goals, or even setting the right goals in the wrong way will significantly impact your chances of success.

If you’re tired of not achieving your goals and want to improve your performance by learning the right way to set goals, this post is for you.

You've been setting goals wrong

Choosing the right goal-setting method is an important step toward setting the right goals.

Some of the reasons why we don't achieve the goals we set include:

  • Setting ambiguous goals
  • Setting goals without a clear plan for achieving them
  • Setting goals at an undefined time in the future
  • Setting goals without any specific purpose or motivation

Unfortunately, most people are not aware of the reasons why they don't reach their goals. They spend little time reflecting on how they set their goals or why they were unable to achieve them.

Focusing on the process of setting goals has a significant impact on our ability to accomplish them.

I’ve put together The Ultimate Goal Setting Worksheet, which gives you a step-by-step guide to creating clearer, more achievable goals and helps you keep on track to accomplishing those goals.

Here are 3 simple and effective goal setting methods that will help:

High Hard Goals + Clear Goals

I first came across the concept of High Hard Goals + Clear Goals in an email I received from Steven Kotler at the Flow Research Collective.

High Hard Goals are the big targets you're aiming for.

They are your mission and clear goals ate the steps you take to complete that mission.

High Hard Goals give you an aim to focus your attention and energy.

They are the big targets that provide you with motivation and a focus for the smaller goals you set along the way.

Clear Goals are the small steps that you take to achieve the High Hard Goals.

Kotler explains that clear goals are one of the most effective flow triggers as they are tiny steps that take place over a much smaller timeframe.

Whereas a High Hard Goal may take you are year or more to complete, Clear Goals are daily, weekly, and sometimes monthly actions that we take to keep the ball rolling toward the High Hard Goals.

One of my Clear Goals is to publish one piece of written content before lunchtime 5 days a week - whether that’s an Atomic Essay, a blog post, or a Twitter Thread.

Kotler explains that clear goals also generate flow because they determine where and when you have to focus your attention.

Your mind doesn’t wander because you know what to do.

Clear goals require less willpower for you to take action and also prevent decision fatigue because you have already pre-determined the Clear Goals you need to achieve.

A crucial element of Clear Goals is exactly that - they are clear. They provide a specific step needed to achieve success in the present action.

Focus on one clear goal at a time before moving on to the next one, otherwise, your bigger goals distract you from taking the important necessary actions in the present.

By using this method, the best way for you to write down your goals are

  1. Define your High Hard Goal,
  2. Reverse engineer that into small Clear Goals, and;
  3. Execute until your High Hard Goal is accomplished.

Process Goals vs Outcome Goals

When I first started setting goals, they were always focused on the end result.

It’s only over the last 2-3 years, as I’ve learned more about goal setting, that I’ve changed my approach to focusing on the process.

When we set goals, most of us state what we want - like getting a new job or buying a house.

Even though these outcome goals set the direction you want to go in life, they can negatively impact us.

It’s easy to set an outcome goal. Big outcome goals require a lot of emotional and mental energy.

The problem with this is that they can cause, overwhelm, burnout and a lot of stress when they seem hard to reach.

These outcome Goals can be overwhelming, cause stress, and have a negative effect when it seems too hard to reach.

Outcome goals can also make us feel like a failure.

If you don’t hit your goals, you can become disillusioned and disappointed.

You might even compare yourself to others and begin to question whether your goals are even achievable.

Focusing on Process Goals allows you to start with small and achievable challenges that lead to 'quick wins'.

Process Goals focus on the steps you need to complete in order to put yourself in a position for success.

To achieve your desired outcome, there are smaller goals and milestones to accomplish along the way.

Whereas outcome goals provide direction, process goals help you decide how to achieve those goals.

Process goals are exactly that, they define the process for you to achieve your outcome goals.

They prevent procrastination as process goals are more attainable than outcome goals.

Process goals break down large outcome goals into bitesize actionable steps that help you build momentum.

Before you know it you've reached the Outcome Goal that you want.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

The S.M.A.R.T. Goals method is pretty well established and is commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept.

The SMART Goals method  helps you make sure your goals are clear and reachable:

  • S = Specific
  • M = Measurable
  • A = Attainable
  • R = Realistic
  • T = Timebound

Let’s break each of these down:


Setting specific goals helps you stay focused and motivated. To do this, try to answer the 5 “w” questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it located?
  • Which resources or limits are involved?


Setting measurable goals helps you to track progress and stay focused to meet your deadlines. Measurable goals should address questions like

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?


When setting achievable goals, you need to think about stretching your abilities that are still possible. This is known as a stretch goal and usually answers questions like

  • How can I accomplish this goal?
  • How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints (i.e. finances, time, resources etc)?

Steven Kotler, who I mentioned earlier, believes that determining what’s attainable ahead of time undercuts your success because we are poor judges of what we can accomplish.

Instead of setting a limit on what you can achieve before you even try, you should think big.

The only way to achieve something truly great is by thinking big and not limiting your potential, and Kotler suggests ditching the “A” from SMART Goals completely.

Food for thought….


Relevant goals make sure that the goals you set matter to you and are goals that you can retain control over.

A relevant goal answers "yes" to questions like:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?

Lastly, every goal needs to have a deadline to work towards. They help you stay focused and enable you to determine what daily tasks take priority.


Time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:

  • When?
  • What can I do six months from now?
  • What can I do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

SMART Goals are effective because they provide you with clarity, focus, and motivation to accomplish your goals.


Some authors have argued that the SMART Goals concept should be expanded to include focus on Evaluation and Review (SMARTER GOALS) - which are also important steps in the goal setting process.

Whether or not you achieve your goals, reviewing the steps you take and determining what worked, what didn’t and what you need to change next time helps facilitate your growth as an individual.