After scoring a meaningful win recently, I decided to create a private Facebook group for my clients who were serious about setting some health/life goals. It isn’t really about the type or size of the goal itself. What matters is the desire behind it. How badly do you want it?

What I’ve learned from personal experience in getting things done (or not) is that the more specific the process, the more easily you can track your progress and make changes where necessary.

Let me also note that you are never too young or too old to set a goal, no matter how utterly ridiculous it may sound when the words actually come out of your mouth. Speaking of your mouth, have you gotten the goals out of your head and your mouth already, or have you been hosting secret meetings with yourself about what you want to do? Get those thoughts out of your head and your mouth, and onto some paper.

The main reason I can explain for not hitting goals I had set, is that I didn’t have a method. Without a method, you and I both would only be experiencing a small percentage of completion. Next to the method is specificity. You must be as specific as possible in you want. If you want to make $25K this month in revenue, but have no clear way to get there, then you might as well be waiting on a lottery win, and we all know the odds of that happening. Having a clear strategy instantly improves your odds of crushing your goal. And just so we’re clear, if you set specific goals but do not reach them, that is not a failure. It simply means you may need more strategies or effort or time or opportunities to make it happen. Go back to the drawing board and examine what needs to be corrected in the process. As you can see, goal setting is not for chumps! If you’re serious about wanting to make something happen, you have to show up and act like it.

There’s also a series of questions to ponder when you’ve figured out (specifically) what it is you want.

What do I want exactly? Why do I want it to begin with? How long might it take for me to get there? What things am I doing now to move me in the right direction? What things or beliefs or people are not in alignment with what I actually want (therefore, preventing me from hitting my goals)?

Now that you’ve created some structure, gotten super specific and asked yourself a series of thought-provoking questions, you’ve earned your way to perhaps the most important piece of the method.

I’m gonna need you to put on your big girl panties or your big boy undies for this one. Your WHY is likely going to be the largest motivating factor for you in reaching your goals. We don’t set a goal one day and wake up to its completion on the next. This means there is consistent work to be done in the meantime, and your WHY — the real reason(s) behind the goals you’ve declared, is what helps you move the needle each and every waking moment.

Your WHY requires the same level of specificity as your goal. The idea is to keep peeling back the layers on why you want what you want. Caution: You will also need to know your weaknesses — the things that make you procrastinate or forget about your goal altogether. What false beliefs might you rely on when you’re feeling down, or like your goal is insurmountable? Too old? Not smart enough? No money? Unsupportive family? Kids too busy? Work two jobs already? My point here is that you need to know what may naturally rear its ugly head for you, so that you don’t let these excuses keep you from remembering your WHY. For example, if my WHY is time freedom so that I can spend my days with my kids as I choose, when things get crazy or stressful, I may flip that and use it as an EXCUSE to stop working on my goals. “My kids have been so busy with school and sports that I barely have time to (fill in the blank).” See how this works?Your WHY for wanting to accomplish a goal should be so big that it can keep you up at night. It might even be so big that others call it ridiculous.

I’ve learned that if I want to be in control of my life and my goals I set along the way, then I have to act like it. No one else can reach my goal. I even had to sit the family down to have a (kinda) loving conversation about what I want to accomplish, how it benefits everyone, and why all need to be on the same page. Basically, we have to do something different to get a different outcome. I told you, setting and crushing goals is serious business!

My Method, in review

  1. Create some structure, already! Decide what you want. Peel back the layers to get specific.
  2. List today’s date. List the date for your deadline.
  3. Answer the “questions to ponder” to further peel back the layers.
  4. Determine your WHY. If you didn’t know before, by now you should have a better idea.
  5. Do the work. Check in with yourself daily, weekly or monthly — whatever works for your goal. Track your progress in a notebook or dated planner so you can visibly see what’s happening. Bonus tip — track your progress on your phone’s voice recorder. Include the goal, the date, your progress, and any emotions associated with it.
  6. Celebrate! You win some. You lose some. Even goals not reached should be celebrated if you did the work. You’ll get ’em next time.

Technically not a part of the method, but totally necessary — resources. Arm yourself with as many as you can put your hands on. And if you speak my language, find all the free stuff you can first. Libraries. Books. Audio Books. An Accountability Partner. Medium! Whatever helps you win the small victories — because they’ll eventually lead to the big ones.

Want to know my favorite books to help you kick butt on your goal-setting journey? Just ask.

The meaningful goal I mentioned earlier? I quit my 9–5. A pretty big deal considering the odds against that were against me. Maybe I’ll share it in an article to come.

If you found this article helpful, let me know! I love to get feedback, but mostly I love to help others.

Cicely Everson is a former teacher turned holistic medicine practitioner and writer at The Everson Collective. Get weekly tips via her website.