A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

woman writing out a goal on paper

A goal + a plan = success

I’m writing today’s article just as we approach Christmas week, and I can’t even believe we are already nearing the New Year’s Resolution goal setting season! Where in the world did this year go?!

As school gets ready to wind down for the semester and my college kiddos come back to the nest for a time, I usually start thinking about how life somehow passes by so quickly. It seems like only a couple of months ago we were talking about our resolutions from last year!

Did you lose track of your well-intentioned goals?

Each year we hear the statistic that over 90% of New Year’s resolutions are never kept. Whether it is about getting in better financial shape, eating healthier, or quitting an unhealthy “vice”, by the time we turn the calendar page to the month of February, most of our resolutions are a distant memory.

If that describes you, know you are definitely NOT alone.

But if that does describe you, how about doing things a little differently this time around? Read on and I’ll show you a much more successful goal setting, goal reaching plan of action.

Better goal setting

For most of us, a resolution like “losing 15 pounds”, or “getting in great shape” is not nearly enough to help really inspire us to make a positive change. On the list below, I’ll outline specific things you can do that work (and keep scrolling down for a pdf of the quick checklist at the bottom of this post).

We’ll start of your new strategy by using some SMART guidelines (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) to help you create compelling goals that inspire enthusiasm and urgency, so you can confidently realize those resolutions this year, and apply them to any goal, for years to come!

Here are 7 steps you can implement to WIN with any goal you set:

SMART Goal setting1. BE SPECIFIC.

Set specific, tangible goals. The clearer the target the better, so be clear and be specific. “I will set my alarm an hour earlier so I can exercise before work on Tuesdays and Thursdays” is a lot better than, “I will lose 10 pounds in time for my sister’s wedding.”


“Get in better shape” works much better if you have some kind of benchmark to measure against. Will you be tracking your calories, pounds, reps, miles? Reward yourself for small victories (but not by eating a hot fudge sundae!)


An ideal goal is one where you will need to stretch a little to get out of your comfort zone. Your goal, while challenging, should be attainable with some effort and consistency. If you aim too high, it can be overwhelming. Too low? A cake walk, and possibly boredom. Find that “happy place” and make it work for you.


If you set a goal to completely cut out sugary drinks, and you currently down three Mountain Dews and a latte every day, this isn’t realistic. How about one per day? You can always strive to slowly transition to your “ideal” over time.


Specific deadlines propel you into action and create a sense of urgency. Announce your timeline to the world, to a close friend, or even just to yourself by writing it on your calendar. Hold yourself accountable to the schedule.  

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This step is ever so important! There needs to be an EMOTIONAL connection to your goal. WRITE DOWN YOUR WHY on paper! Make it visible…on your computer, on your bathroom mirror, wherever! This will be a KEY motivating factor during those times when things get challenging. Without your WHY, you are more apt to give up, saying, “Oh well, I guess I couldn’t do it – again.”  DON’T give up! Remember your WHY!


Only YOU can make it happen! Believe it or not, life will go on, whether you meet your goal or not. It’s always a good idea to check-in with yourself and ask yourself WHY you set the goal in the first place –  and then DO what it takes to help you get there with consistency.

If your goal is better fitness, this may mean connecting with a trainer, joining a workout group, or starting one of your own. If your goal is to get out of debt, it might mean setting up an envelope system for easier tracking of where your dollars are going throughout the week/month. Daily actions will result in success and you WILL move forward!

target goal

It has been said that a goal without a plan is just a WISH. Reaching a challenging goal is not an easy task.

Of course, if you”wing it”, you’ll increase the chance of failure.

Don’t end up in that 90% of people who gave up on their resolutions when life got in the way. Follow these SMART steps and you will increase your chances of success tremendously. And who knows, your resolution to live a healthier, fitter lifestyle may just last well past January 1.

FREE: Grab these 7 Steps to Setting Better Goals in a downloadable PDF you can keep handy:

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Laurie Yogi
Your online wellness strategist, just trying to embrace 50(ish) & helping you do the same.