Goal Setting That Actually Works

Goal Setting That Actually WORKS

Let this year be the year of YOU.

This year WILL be different from all the others.

It’s time to stop being passive in your life.  It’s time to take control and make good things happen!

“Ok, all of that sounds great, BUT HOW?!?”

Right now you’re thinking, “I try setting resolutions every year, and eventually they fall by the wayside.  I can’t even remember last year’s resolutions!”

You’re also thinking, “I have tried the goal setting thing too, but it never seems to work out!”

Maybe you think setting goals is stupid like I once did.  (I’ll explain more later.)

Or maybe the thought of getting starting is just too overwhelming and you keep finding reasons to take a nap and avoid it.

Maybe you do get started, but you burn out and return to your old habits in a matter of weeks or months.

Well, that’s where I come in. 

Today I am sharing with you a system that I developed to create goals that ACTUALLY WORK!  I am also sharing my secret to creating LASTING change in your life.

Boom.  Two for the price of one.  (Actually there is no price.  I’m giving away all my secrets for free.  Really.  No catch.  Because I want to help you and see you succeed.)

free goal setting sheets

The Importance of Goal Setting

My whole life, people have talked about goals.  Goal setting.  “Set some goals!”  “It’s important.” 

BUT nobody ever took the time to talk about how or why.  How do you create goals that you will actually achieve?  

In middle school, we had to set goals in our agenda every week.  I’m pretty sure we had to do it because it was part of the teacher evaluation checklist.  Being a teacher now has given me a whole new perspective on things like this 🙂 

Yep.  Mrs. Lentini would say, “Set some goals!”  I would write, “Get an A.”  And that was it.  It was an easy goal for me.  I was already getting A’s.  So yeah.  No chance of failure there!  I set a goal that I knew I could easily achieve, and done.

Nobody questioned it.  Nobody pushed me to dig deeper.  “Get an A” was a good goal for a 7th grader after all.

That experience taught me that setting goals was stupid.  What was the point?  It was just some kind of bureaucratic hoop to jump through to make it look like you were doing a good job at life.

Don’t get me wrong.  I had goals in my mind that I did achieve.  Graduate from high school…not that hard for me.  Get into the University of Michigan…ok I was sweating a little bit for that one.  Graduate college.  Get a teaching job.  They were just the cookie cutter goals that I was supposed to achieve anyway. 

What about going deeper though?  What about thinking about what I want to get out of this one precious life I have been given?  I didn’t give it too much thought.

I didn’t think much about goals again until ten years later when my friend Kelly said to me, “What are your goals for this year?”  I was going into my second year of full-time teaching, and her question completely caught me off guard. 

I was like huh?  Goal?  It was like taking an old book off the shelf and blowing off the dust. 

Maybe I should give that whole goal thing a second thought.  My first year teaching (under contract) had been FREAKING rough.  Of course, I had already been thinking about all of the things I would do differently and better, but calling those ideas GOALS made it official.

Reflecting back now, I think part of my aversion to the whole goal setting thing came from my fear of failure…my fear of not being perfect.  If I set goals that I already knew I could achieve, well that was safe and comfy.  Nobody could look at me and say, “You couldn’t do it!” FAIL.

{My very first blog post was about overcoming the need to be perfect.  Check it out HERE.}

However, nobody could look at me and say, “Wow!  I can’t believe you did __________!” either because I was playing it safe.

Actually, I take that back.  It doesn’t matter what other people think and say about you.  What matters is what you think and say about yourself.

set goals that actually work with these free goal setting worksheets

I want to live an extraordinary life…for myself and no one else.

I want to be able to look myself in the eye and say, WOW!  Look at what you were able to do with the time you were given.  Look how much you LIVED.

When I really hit rock bottom (maybe a year or so after Kelly asked me about my goals), I took the goal setting thing to a whole other level.  {You can read more about that experience by clicking HERE.}

I got super serious about it.  I found printables online.  I wasn’t sure what would work for me, so I printed out ALL OF THE THINGS.  I discovered that most people out there aren’t sure what they’re doing with goal setting either.

It is not enough to just say what you want.  You need to come up with a plan.  You need actionable steps and deadlines if you are going to achieve that goal.

I used all of the resources I found, and I developed my own system that I am sharing with you today!

Everyone is different.  You may have to tweak my system to work for you, and that’s ok!  You gotta start somewhere, so start here today!

goal setting workbook image

Setting Goals The Right Way

When you set goals using my system, they will become your roadmap or GPS if you will.  Let’s say you’re going on a cross country trip, and you just take off.  “I’m going to Yellowstone!”  No planning.  No prep.  You do not look at or have Google Maps on your phone.  You do not take an atlas for those time when you won’t have cell service in the boonies.  What will happen?

Well, you’re gonna waste a lot of time and may just end up wandering around aimlessly.  You will miss out on all of the cool things you could have seen or done along the way.  You will probably end up lost.  If you don’t have a clear picture on where you’re going, there’s a good chance you will end up somewhere that you don’t like.

Another one of my biggest drawbacks to writing goals down and planning, has been the fear of feeling trapped.  What if, down the road, I don’t want that anymore?  What if I change my mind? 

Well, guess what!  Just change the plan.  You can change your mind!  Not making a decision about what you want out of life or where you are going IS STILL A DECISION.  You will waste a lot of time spinning in circles and not going anywhere. 

Start moving.  Start doing.  Start making things happen.

Getting Started With Goal Setting

I have been working on transforming my life over the past few years (still a work in progress btw).  I talked about my rock bottom moment in this post HERE.

To quickly summarize, I realized that I was letting life happen to me.  I needed to take charge and quick.

I was no longer going to settle for “the way things are” or just accept that my life was out of my control.

It’s not out of your control.  You have to make a choice to make a conscious change and work to create the life of your dreams.

It’s called living life by DESIGN.

I have talked about this before, but getting started is the hardest part.  When you want to make a big change, taking that step of getting started is a daunting task.  It quickly feels overwhelming, and suddenly you’re rather tired.  Your eyes are heavy.  You can’t go on.  You need a nap.

Getting started does not have to be this huge daunting task looming over you that is going to suck down all your energy and fun and take a million bajillion years to accomplish.

The best way to get started is with baby steps.

For example, let’s say you want to lose weight/get healthy.  Huge daunting task, right?  You drag your feet on getting started because there is SO MUCH to do. 

You need to drastically change your diet.  (Cut out processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, etc.).  Join a gym.  Get a personal trainer.  Start an intense exercise program.  Holy cow.  No wonder you feel overwhelmed.

The truth is, you are going to burn out quickly, and you probably won’t be successful at making a lasting change.

Here’s a little tidbit I have figured out in recent years.  It’s a small piece of advice, but it is so impactful.

Are you ready for it?

The key to changing your life lies within changing your daily routine.  That’s it.

free goal setting worksheets, set goals that actually work

Easier said than done, that’s for sure my friends.

It takes 21 days to form a new habit (aka change your routine).  According to science anyway…

It’s a routine!  It’s what you do on autopilot all the time.  Of course it’s going to be hard to change!  You have to consciously think about changing it EVERYDAY. 

That’s why I am advocating getting started with baby steps.  My system is designed to help you create baby steps that are easy to implement one at a time.  Over time they add up to make a big change!)

If you want to lose weight, start by implementing one small change a week.

For example:

Week 1:  Cut out the alcohol.  No beer.  No wine.  Nada.

Week 2:  No alcohol + an apple a day.

Week 3: No alcohol + an apple a day + walk on the treadmill.

Keep going from there.  It’s like compounding interest πŸ˜‰

At the end of this post, you’ll find 7 FREE downloadable sheets to get you started living your best life in 2019!  You’re almost ready!

My Goal Setting System

My system for setting goals that work starts out very broad and then gradually narrows down.  Think inverted pyramid style 🙂 

Step 1:  Dream Big

This is the first exercise and the first page in the free download/printables.

free goal setting sheets

What are your dreams?  Do not hold back on this part.  Go all out.  This is a brainstorm or a brain dump.  Put down EVERY SINGLE THING you have EVER wanted to do.  You are not going to judge yourself or limit yourself here.  No matter how “silly” or “crazy” you think something might be.  If it pops into your head as a dream, write it down.

Step 2:  Envision

Next, we are going to envision your dream life, your best life, the best version of you there could possibly be.  This is the second page in the download.  You will get your creative juices flowing and do some brainstorming on the page.  Then comes my favorite part!  Pinterest! 

You can see my Pinterest board for my best self HERE to get an idea.  Envision the woman that you are becoming.  Where does she live, how does she dress, what does she eat, what does she do, where is she going to travel?  We’re essentially making a vision board.  Pin everything that inspires you.  Pin everything that you want to see in your life.  You need to be able to see it, and you need to FEEL the emotions of having it.  Just trust me on this.

free goal setting sheets

Ok, now we’re getting down to the good stuff.

Being a dreamer is great, but it’s not enough.  You need to become a DOER.

Action is the key.

The next step is translating these dreams to reality is to… 

Step 3:  Identify your priorities.

Priorities are not goals.  They are your values.  Think one word or a phrase at most.  Do not hold back here either.

Some examples of priorities are:  Health, Travel, Family, etc.

free goal setting sheets

Again, this is a brainstorm.  Get it all out.  Write it down on the sheet provided.

Step 4:  Now you’re going to take those priorities and think about what you want to accomplish this year under each one of them.  Each priority is going to become a heading, and you will set goals for each priority.

For your goal setting:

Let’s say Health is a priority you want to focus on. 

What is a health goal or goals that you have for yourself this year?

For me, I would like to focus on healing and detoxing from my breast implants.

Go through this process for each priority.  You can have more than one goal for each priority.

You will need to print out the priority/goal page of the download many times.

Step 5:  After identifying your goals for each priority, it’s time to set actionable steps.

For example,

Priority:  Health

Goal:  Detox and heal from breast implants

Action Steps:

  1. Cut out alcohol
  2. Cut out caffeine 
  3. Cut out processed food/Increase plant based intake
  4. Research and take supplements

At this point, you’re probably looking at all of these sheets with all of these priorities and goals and action steps and you’re feeling the overwhelm big time.  How in the heck are you going to get all this done!?!?!

Well, here’s the secret to avoiding overwhelm at this point.  You’ve got all of your goals and action steps mapped out.  The key is to schedule your action steps in 90-day blocks.

Focus on your first 90 days.  What can you realistically accomplish during this time frame?  Which action steps will you complete? 

At the end of each 90-day period, you will stop and reflect.  Then you will plan out your steps for the next 90-day period.

As humans, we over estimate what we can get done in a day, but we underestimate how much we can accomplish in a week, a month, and a year.

You may be wondering why you need to set deadlines.  “I don’t know how long this stuff is going to take!!!!”  I can hear your exasperation because I have been there too. 

The truth is, you probably don’t know, and that’s ok.  Again, you gotta start somewhere.  Maybe you planned too much for 90 days.  That’s ok.  It’ll just spill over in to the next 90 days.  Did you under plan?  Go back to your planning sheets and add more steps!

Go to each action step and put a deadline after it.  You need to hold yourself accountable.  This is super important.  Once you set an intention, do not let yourself back out.  You subconsciously teach yourself that you are not reliable when you let yourself back out.

Step 6:  Now let’s organize those goals into 90 Day chunks (roughly).

One of the best ways I have found for doing this is with Asana.  You can create an account for free, and you can set up lists of your goals with deadlines to keep yourself on track! 

It’s going to take some playing around to figure out what you like best.  For example, I have headings that say 30 days, 60 day, 90 days, 6 months, 1 year, etc.  You will probably set it up and keep changing it until you find a system that you like.

Step 7:  I also recommend buying (or creating) a planner. 

This is where you can break those action steps down into the daily and weekly “to do” items.  Plan your month, plan your week, plan your day.

There is a productivity strategy called time blocking.  (This is where we really get into the change that I have been talking about.)

For example, one of my priorities is Self-Love/Self-Care/Mental Health…whatever you want to call it.

My goal is to love myself/take better care of myself/take better care of my mental well-being.

To do that, there are somethings I know I should do (and want to do), but I have been struggling to implement.

I want to start journaling and meditating every day.  I keep telling myself that I don’t have time.  However, that is COMPLETELY FALSE.  I do have time.  I just have to create it (or carve out the space for these things). 

In reality, journaling and meditation DO NOT take up a massive amount of time.  I could spend 10 minutes journaling a day and 10 minutes meditating.  Boom done.  That’s it.  But I have been letting that feeling of overwhelm and that dread of getting started delay me.

This is where the planner and the time-blocking comes in.  If you schedule it, and hold yourself to it, you will accomplish it.

So for me, going into 2019, I may block an hour or a half hour each morning to journal, meditate, and make my celery juice.

Create Time (Schedule It!)

Step 8:  The very last step is to grind and unwind (every day).  It’s a sheet I designed to help you track your progress and to keep you motivated.  You’ll want to print out many copies of this sheet as well.

It is important to take a minute to reflect and plan at the end of each day.  This should take 5 minutes.

First, you list your accomplishments of the day (and have a mini celebration…go you…yay!)

Next, what are you grateful for?  (Practicing gratitude daily will make you happier and increase your blessings.)  Think about what you are grateful for and WHY.  FEEL it.

Finally, take a second to think about tomorrow’s action items and set an intention.


I know I just threw a TON of information your way. 

So here are some action steps for you to take right now 😊

Digest and process.  You will need to skim through this post again, so bookmark it now.

Next, access all of my free planning sheets by putting in your email below.

Follow me on Pinterest and leave a comment on my vision board!  I will follow you back and follow your journey too.  I want to see you succeed and do big things!

Print out the goal planning sheets I made for you and fill them out by hand.  There is something super powerful about seeing your goals in your own handwriting.

And finally, please check back in to let me know how the process goes for you. 

Be sure to check your spam folder if you don’t see my email in your inbox right away! πŸ™‚

***I have a MAJOR update to this Goal Setting post HERE with everything I have learned in the past year. I am experimenting with setting just ONE goal. If you are serious about goal setting (and seeing results), you need to read it!***

Related posts: Change Your Life Today, Why The Pressure To Be Perfect Is Ruining Your Life



  1. January 11, 2019 / 3:23 am

    Amazing post. That was really helpful.

    • Alyssa
      January 13, 2019 / 4:36 pm

      Thank you so much! I am glad you found it helpful! Keep me updated on progress with your goals πŸ™‚

  2. Mia
    February 22, 2019 / 9:03 am

    Thank you very much Alyssa… been scouring the net for something like this. And thank you for the goal setting freebies πŸ™‚… I hope this year is my year πŸ€—.. your post is really really helpful. I already bookmarked it πŸ˜‰

    • Alyssa
      February 22, 2019 / 4:44 pm

      Yay! So glad to hear this! It IS your year. Please keep me posted on how the sheets work for you! πŸ™‚

  3. Katarzyna
    December 25, 2019 / 6:18 am

    Thank you. A lot of useful information!

    • Alyssa
      January 2, 2020 / 11:20 am

      You are welcome! I am glad you found it helpful πŸ™‚

  4. Himalika roul
    September 27, 2020 / 1:43 am

    Thank you! Your blog has very useful information for motivated person. Really I am trying to be a best version of myself each and everyday but not feeling to stick on my own plans. I want to know where I am lacking. Your blog will help me a lot so thank you so much for this.

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