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5 Do’s and Don’ts When Setting Your Goals

Most of us have goals. Some have small personal goals while others have big professional ones, but generally humans are naturally keen to reach a milestone, then the next, and so on.

Goals act like a map. Whether they are short-term or long-term ones, goals provide a general direction for us to head towards in our studies, business, or even life.

How to start? Where to start? When to start?

Getting started on goal setting may seem daunting at first, but hopefully this guide can help. Here are some do’s and don’ts when setting your goals and how to achieve them.

Don’t procrastinate

Do get started on setting your goals immediately

Here’s the issue with many of us these days. We’re taught to never settle and to do “all or nothing”. We strive for perfection, yet procrastinate and get paralysis when it comes to setting the best goal.

Forget about coming up with the perfect goal or looking for the right time to set your goals. The trick is to get started immediately and fine-tune your goals along the way.

Feeling paralysed by procrastination? Check out our guide here for more ways to tackle this problem.

Don’t set unrealistic goals

Do set both short-term and long-term goals

Goals are important in giving us meaning, purpose, and direction.

Unrealistic or premature goals can cause us unneeded stress, leading to a poorer performance overall. So it’s really okay to not achieve your goals immediately.

This is where short-term goals vs long-term goals come in. Short-term goals take typically less than a year to achieve. They help to break the bigger picture down into smaller and achievable steps.

Some questions to ask yourself when setting your short-term goals are: Is this the right time for the short-term goal? Can I achieve this short-term goal within a year? Does this short-term help to fulfil my long-term goals?

Meanwhile, long-term goals are broader and have longer time periods of more than a year or even your entire lifetime. For example, one’s long-term life goal may be to reach financial independence and retire early by 45 years old. Two ways to achieve this is to increase his income and cut his spending.

To increase his income, the individual can have short-term goals such as finding a side-hustle within three months, starting on his investing journey after six months, and gunning for a promotion within a year.

To cut his spending, this individual can find a cheaper place to stay, indulge in lesser luxuries, and cook his own food instead of eating out all the time.

Don’t just set vague goals

Do start out with SMART goals

SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific: Each goal should be clearly defined.
  • Measurable: The goal must be measurable or quantifiable.
  • Achievable: Avoid setting too-high expectations by analysing your previous goal efforts.
  • Realistic: The goal must be set in the context of your current situation to be realistic and achievable.
  • Time-bound: Have a deadline for achieving your short-term goals and long-term goals.

Confused? Here’s an example.

Let’s suppose you have a company selling digital services and your goal is to increase online brand awareness. However, “growing the company’s online brand awareness” is simply too broad and hard to measure.

A SMART goal to strive for is a 2% increase of annual website visitors in the next 12 months. This also translates to growing your online brand awareness as more customers will search for the company online.

The goal is specific as it defines the increase in visitors, measurable by the percentage of 2%, achievable compared to the history of the previous website visitors, realistic based on the current COVID-19 economic conditions and has a time frame of 12 months.

Don’t procrastinate (again)

Do act on your goals

Congratulations, you’ve overcame the procrastination of setting your goals. But don’t rejoice too soon. You will encounter the next bigger challenge – acting on your goals.

Instead of choosing to do productive things to achieve personal or professional goals like finding a study buddy, reviewing your mistakes, trying out paid advertisements, or hiring someone to lighten the workload, many individuals just sit there and continue sitting there.

And they sit, and they sit, and they sit. They do nothing, silently hoping that their goals will be magically completed.

We know that first step to act on your goal may be scary. If you’re having trouble taking action, think about what will happen to your studies, business, or even life if you don’t take action for the rest of your life. That should give you enough urgency to act now.

Some goal-getting tips will be to do the following:

  1. Establish routines: Do competitor research at 9am. Reply emails from 10am to 5pm. Schedule breaks at 1pm and 6pm. These set routines will help you establish a consistent habit, allowing you to get more done in a shorter time. Setting alarms at those specific times can make those habits stick.
  2. Organise your to-do list by priority: Start the day by focussing on productive tasks that will help you achieve your goals and eliminate all the other time-wasting tasks.
  3. Set deadlines: Deadlines can help us keep on track and avoid potential time-wasters.

Want more tips? Again, here’s our guide on how to be productive and to tackle procrastination.

Don’t be complacent

Do conduct frequent goal reviews

At this stage, you’ve already worked hard for your short-term goals and results are starting to show.

Now what?

While you deserve a pat on your back for having come so far, it’s best not to rest on your laurels too quickly as life may throw you some curveballs. Circumstances change and emergency situations might happen.

To constantly stay on track, your short-term goals may need to be flexible. Monitor your them and make tweaks to your strategy and tactics if necessary. It takes a consistent and continuous effort on your part to fulfil your long-term goals.


To sum up, don’t procrastinate and get to work quickly by setting your SMART goals. Act on them quickly and always conduct frequent goal reviews. Good luck!


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