6 Planning and Goal Setting Activities That Make You 88% More Likely to Succeed

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To reach your goals, it helps to stack the deck in your favor. Here are 6 goal setting tricks you may not have heard before. One of them could end up being the difference between failure and success.

Ready to start planning and crushing some goals?

These smart (perhaps even fun) goal setting activities for youths, college students, employees, and adults might be just what you need.

If you’re here, you’ve already completed step one in the goal-setting process:

You recognize an area for improvement and you acknowledge that you need to take responsibility and do something about it.

It doesn’t matter if your aspirations lay in fitness, finance, or anywhere else, self-improvement is a hugely popular industry. People are constantly looking for ways to better themselves.

But, the truth is, not many people are actually any good at rising to the occasion and accomplishing the goals they set (think New Year’s resolutions). Many people lack clarity and focus, and are generally poor at both planning and achieving goals.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t stop some quarter million people each month from Googling something related to “goal setting activities”:

number of monthly goal setting related searches on google

So if you are reading this, you are not alone. The numbers don’t lie.

Thousands of people are looking for ways to finally lose that weight, make more money, live a happier life, have better relationships, get promoted, etc. Basically, everyone wants to be just a little bit better. And fortunately, there’s nothing wrong with that.

To make it happen, it helps to stack the deck in your favor.

6 Smart Goal Setting Activities to Help You Be More Successful

Here are 6 smart goal setting activities that could end up being the difference between failure and success:

1. Write it down – the easiest of goal setting activities

Start jotting down your goals. And don’t just write down what you think you can achieve. Write down what you would love to accomplish, no matter how crazy it may seem.

According to a study done by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University of California, the simple act of writing down your goals makes you 42% more likely to achieve them.[1]

Don’t just write it down once. Write it down several times, and put notes in places where you will see them throughout the day. There are even beautiful planners specifically designed for planning your goals.

Completely soak your mind with reminders of what you want to achieve.

2. Use technology to your advantage

No matter what your goal is, whether it’s to earn more money or to lose more weight, there’s an app for that.

Apps are handy because they can help you track and monitor your progress toward your goal, which is a great way to keep you motivated. Think of them as your own accountability partner and coach, right in your pocket.

Tip: Most people don’t love push notifications, but these apps are the exception. Consider enabling them so you are regularly reminded of your goals.

Here are some helpful goal-setting apps:


  1. Personal Capital
  2. Stash
  3. Digit
  4. Mint


  1. HealthyWage
  2. MyFitnessPal
  3. MapMyRun
  4. Charity Miles


  1. GoalsOnTrack
  2. Strides
  3. Habit List
  4. Way of Life

Related: Get Paid to Lose Weight with These 5 Apps

3. Tell a friend what you are going to do

Take note of how that is worded.

“What you are going to do.”

Self-belief, maybe even delusion, is a huge part of goal setting. You have to believe in your own mind that you are going to get it done.

Add in the accountability of sharing your goals with a friend and you’ll be even more unstoppable. Make sure your friend is the type who will actually call you out if you flake, though.

4. Be specific about what you want

Instead of saying, “I want to save more money”…Set a goal for saving $5,000 in 52 weeks and work out a plan to get there.

Instead of, “I want to lose some weight”…Turn it into, “I want to lose 10 pounds in 5 weeks, and here is how I’m going to do it.”

Instead of, “I want to make more money”…Challenge yourself to make an extra $100 this week.

This is not the time to be vague and cryptic. Get it out there and make your goals as clear as day.

5. Reverse engineer how you will get there

As annoying as some of those cheesy phrases are, the saying “a goal without a plan is just a dream” is spot on.

If you have a goal in mind that you want to reach, research the goal-setting activities you’ll need to complete to get there…and then research some more!

Here are some things you’ll need to consider:

four goal setting questions to ask yourself

6. Don’t give up when you fail

Again, notice the wording on this one. It’s important that you don’t give up on your goals when you fail.

Chances are that if you set just one too many goals, you’ll crumble in one or more areas. But don’t let that throw you off course completely. Instead, pinpoint the goal(s) that means most to you now and give the other ones a few days, weeks, or months longer to achieve.

It’s better to achieve one goal than to give up on all of them. So keep at it, and push forward even when you fail in one or more areas.

Related: 18 Financial Goals You Should Absolutely Have in 2021

Shift the Odds in Your Favor with Planning and Goal Setting Activities

Hard work and extreme discipline are irreplaceable in planning, setting, and reaching your goals.

Any goal worth having probably isn’t going to be easy. But by employing one (or all) of the planning and goal setting activities listed here you can hack your brain and increase the chances you’ll actually follow through in accomplishing the goals you set.

Jeff Proctor

Hi! I'm Jeff. A personal finance nerd and entrepreneur at heart, I'm here to bring you all the latest cool ways to make and save extra money. I've been quoted in several online publications, including Entrepreneur, NBC News, GoBankingRates, Student Loan Hero, Business.com, Credit Karma, The Simple Dollar, US News & World Report, Lifehacker, MSN Money, Moneyish, Zumper, IdeaMensch, Discover Bank, PrimeRates, Credit.com, Yahoo! Finance, Club Thrifty, Guru Focus, Rent Track, Fit Small Business, Coupon Chief, and more.

Amy @ Salt and Skillet
Amy @ Salt and Skillet

This is such a great article! I can totally relate to goal setting when it comes to losing weight – both from a personal perspective (been there, done that, will do it again) and helping others achieve their goals.

It is SO important to write this information down, share it with someone you trust, and take small steps!

Very motivational, thanks!

For sure! In a strange way losing weight (well fitness in general for me), has really changed my life. The discipline I learned in that medium is starting to carry over into to many other areas of life and its super confidence boosting to see it happening!

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