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goal setting tips

Goal-setting tips are essential, whether it’s in your personal life or at work. As you pursue your objectives, though, you may find that you hit a plateau after a period of intense growth. It’s a fairly common experience, but one you should try to overcome.

Plateaus happen when you reach a point where you’re not growing as fast as you were. Results slow down, which can be discouraging, making it easy to give up. Sometimes they’re all-but-inevitable, and sometimes you can avoid them easily, but in either case, it helps to know how to push through them.

Whether you’ve hit one or want to avoid them, here are seven goal setting tips to help you overcome plateaus.

1. Look Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Staying in your comfort zone is one of the top six reasons people give up on their goals. If you only pursue things you’re already comfortable with, it’ll be hard to grow. Growth comes from challenge, and challenges aren’t easy. When you set goals, they should scare you a little bit.

Imagine you were trying to learn a new language, but feel intimidated by the idea of trying to converse with native speakers. While it may be more comfortable to stick to private lessons, you can only learn so much that way. Unless you go out of your comfort zone and have conversations, you’ll never get a practical feel for the language.

2. Be Specific

Plenty of people will advise you to dream big, but you can easily take that too far. While you should have high aspirations, your goals shouldn’t be so broad. The more specific you are with your goals, the easier it will be to pursue them.

If you say, “I want to be a better swimmer,” you’ll have a hard time aiming for your goal because it’s too vague. Instead, say, “I want to be able to swim 100 meters in 90 seconds.” That’s a specific goal, so you can easily measure it and know when you achieve it.

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3. Mix up Your Approach

Maybe you’ve set a specific goal and you keep trying to achieve it, but you keep coming up short. If that’s the case, consider a different approach or even setting another kind of objective. Switching it up can help you find something that works for you or highlight where you need improvement.

If you look at how professional weightlifters or bodybuilders train, you’ll see them employ this strategy. Performing the same movement with the same weight too frequently leads to fatigue and poor form, so they switch it up. By going back and forth between different workouts or focusing on other parts of the movement, they avoid hitting plateaus.

4. See Competition as an Opportunity, Not an Obstacle

Sometimes you hit a plateau when you see someone else succeeding in an area where you’re struggling. Competition is one of the most common challenges business owners face in trying to improve. If you look at competition as a chance to grow instead of an obstacle, though, it can motivate you.

If you run a shop and another one across the street gets more customers, that’s not the end of your business. Instead of thinking, “I’ll never have as many customers,” ask, “how did they get those clients, and how can I do it better?” Learn from their successes and mistakes instead of comparing yourself to others.

5. Seek Feedback and Pay Attention to It

Peer and mentor feedback is one of your greatest tools when it comes to any pursuit. Find people you trust to give you assessments on your work. When they mention something, don’t ignore it, either.

Let’s go back to the weightlifting example. Your trainer may tell you to focus on a small accessory movement, but you brush past it because you want to lift more sooner. You’ll probably realize later that it would’ve helped your lifts if you had practiced it earlier. 

goal setting tips

6. Set Limits

As you set goals, remember to put time constraints on all of them. Give yourself a date by which you want to have completed your plan. These limits will help motivate you since you can’t put it off forever.

If we use the swimming example again, say, “I want to swim 100 meters in 90 seconds three months from now.” When you have a specific end date, you can plan how to pursue it. Without one, it’s easier to procrastinate, which tends to become a cycle. It can hurt your future endeavours too.

7. Have a Plan

Even with a due date, you can still procrastinate, as you’ve probably learned from your school days. To avoid that, once you set a time limit for your goals, divide it into chunks. Think of what you can do each day to get one step closer to your objective.

If you’re learning a language, you can say, “I’m going to spend 30 minutes in DuoLingo today” or “I’m going to have three conversations with native speakers today.” Your daily steps don’t have to be substantial. The crucial part is that you do something each day.

Better Goal-Setting Will Improve Both Your Personal and Professional Life

Next time you want to pursue something, remember these seven goal setting tips. Whether you wish to improve your work as an employee or enrich your personal life, setting goals will help. These goal setting tips will help you avoid and break through plateaus.

Devin Partida

Devin Partida is a writer and blogger focusing on innovation and professional growth. She is also the Editor-in-Chief at

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