How To Define Your Goals [And Then Demolish Them]

Goal setting is an art. For some, it’s fun and easy. For others, it’s a struggle. Whether you like it or not, goal setting is essential for success. Writing down a list of “to-do’s” like laundry, unload dishwasher, wash the dog, etc. isn’t what I’m talking about here. What is it that you want to accomplish? Think about specific goals you want to achieve (example: saving for a down payment on a house, increase business profit by 30%, etc) and I’ll show you how to demolish them.

First, you need to define your goals. But when you do this, be S.M.A.R.T. Have you heard of S.M.A.R.T goal setting before? If you have, great! If not, you’re in for a treat. This is a proven method to help define goals that are reasonable.


Writing “save for down payment for house” on your list isn’t going to cut it. It’s a good start, but we need to be clearer. Who is involved? Is it just you or is your spouse contributing to the savings goal? How much do you want to save? Give a hard number. When do you want to hit this number? 3, 6, 12 months? What will it take for you to reach the desired outcome? Working overtime? Picking up another job? Cutting out unnecessary expenses? Be very specific.


So let’s say you’ve defined you want to save $10,000 in 10 months for a down payment on the house, and you are the only person involved with the saving. You decided you’re going to limit going out for drinks on Thursday nights and starting cooking at home instead of going out to eat everyday. So how can you measure this? Perhaps it costs you $150 a week from going out to eat every day. Transfer that extra money into your savings and keep track all deposits.


$10,000 in 10 months is a hefty goal—most of us can’t afford to set aside $1,000/month untouched. A goal like this will take sacrifice and smart decision making, but it is possible. When setting your goal, make sure it is attainable. If you set a goal too high, it can cause additional stress and lack of motivation. I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed—setting goals and accomplishing them needs to be a freeing, successful feeling. Let’s say in our example $10,000 in 10 months was a bit bold. Scale it back to $5000 in 10 months for a more attainable, stress-free saving situation.


Make sure your goals are helping you move forward and make sense. If you’re trying to save for a down payment on a new house, but owe a lump sum on debt… maybe shift your financial goals to conquer the debt first before adding more fuel to the fire.


Nothing gets people working like a good, old-fashioned deadline. Give yourself a time limit. To accomplish large goals, you have you have a plan and you have to put some sort of pressure on yourself. Say you start saving for that $5000 down payment on January 1, 2016. By October 1, you should have the money in the bank. That’s your goal… so what now?


The S.M.A.R.T method has been completed. Now it’s time to get the ball rolling.

Write it out

Get out a pen and paper, and start writing down exactly what you’re going to do to conquer your goal. Write out a contract with your self.

Prioritize your goals

What are the most influential actions you can do to get your closer to your goal? In our example case, cutting out extra expenses (BE SPECIFIC with these). Nothing can happen all at once. What is it you spend the most money on that could be reduced? What’s the second most expensive? And so on.

Be positive

You’re mind controls a lot of your success. If you believe you can achieve something, you can. If there is a will, there is a way. Be supportive of yourself.

Look at the big picture

It’s going to be a struggle cutting out extra expenses… it’s a lifestyle change. For a while, it’s what you have to do to accomplish this hypothetical financial goal. It will be worth it in the end when you hit your due date and you see all your hard work and sacrifice paid off.

Time passes by every second. Is what you’re doing pushing your forward to achieve your dreams and demolish your goals?


Denis Coleman

Denis Coleman is the founder and CEO of Work Compass, a cloud staff performance collaboration software platform that helps teams align their efforts with strategic goals and continuously improve performance. Frustrated with the disconnect between strategy setting and day to day execution and the lack of tools available to managers to help them be great at their most important function …. Aligning their teams activities with strategic goals and actively managing for high performance Denis spent over 5 years researching strategy execution and performance management practices before founding Work Compass to create a software solution. Denis has held senior roles in Ireland, Czech Republic and North America with high performing electronics manufacturing and professional services organisations for more than 12 years. Denis has worked as Finance Director responsible for €800 million in annual revenues for Flextronics International, Key Account Manager responsible for annual revenues of more than €600 million for Dovatron International and Management Consultant for BDO one of Europe’s most successful professional services providers.

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