Goal Setting Series: Part 4- Write Your Goals-The How

If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, How Will You Know When You Get There?

Lewis Carroll

We evaluated the past, we dreamt of our future and we came up with goal ideas. 

It’s time to write our goals in detail and this is the juicy part you’ve been waiting for. Once you learn how to write one goal you will be able to write all goals. 

My favorite teachers in goal-setting are the late zig Ziglar, one of the most amazing motivational speakers who ever lived, and the author and entrepreneur I frequently mention here Michael Hyatt, reading “Your Best Year Ever” was indeed an eye-opener for me. And of course, Lara Casey whose work helped us get to this step. 

 I take no credit coming up with the goal-setting methodology in this blog post, some steps were quoted as they appeared in “the 7-step goal setting process” by Zig Ziglar and “Your Best Year Ever” by Michael Hyatt whose methodologies I combined here because I strongly believe they complete each other. I’ll also leave you few references at the end.  

Here are the Seven Steps of Goal Setting that I recommend: 

Please dedicate one page in your notebook for each goal to cover the seven steps. 


Zig Ziglar says: “If you don’t identify a target you will never hit it. When you identify a goal it means that you write it down and describe it clearly. Don’t set any vague targets. If you want to have specific success you must have specific targets.” 

In order to define a goal properly the goal needs to check 7 boxes and be a SMARTER goal. SMARTER is a twist from the usual SMART goals we have probably encountered in the workplace so instead of meaning Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-keyed, SMARTER stands for.: 

  • Specific: The goal needs to be clear, writing a vague goal is a way to hide from working on it. Unclear goals will waste your time and energy. A vague goal would be: “exercise more”, and the way to make it specific is “Go to the gym 3 times a week, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday“ Another fuzzy goal could be “improve my relationship with my parents” and we can make it specific by writing “Call my parents every day”. 

  • Measurable: A goal needs to have some criteria of achievement to know when we reach it. For example, “Lose some weight” is better than “get in shape” but “lose 6 Kilos” is a much better goal because we have made it measurable and makes success way more delicious. 

  • Actionable: The goal needs to start with a verb of action. “Be a better parent” is not an actionable goal.  “Spend evening quality time with each of my kids every day” is a goal you can actually track and will result in warmer connection with your kids. Whenever you start a goal with a Be verb, ask yourself what can you actually do to make this goal happen? 

  • Risky: If you know for sure that you’re going to achieve the goal that means you have set the bar too low and you are not stretching yourself enough. Setting a trivial goal is another way to hide in goal-setting process. The goal needs to make you feel uncomfortable a bit. If your initial goal was “improve your sales by 10%” why not make it “improve your sales by 30%” if your goal was to “Save 1500 JDs in 6 months” why not make it 3 months instead? A study showed that “difficult goals are far more likely to generate sustained enthusiasm and higher levels of performance.” Some ways to make the goal riskier is increasing the target and shortening the deadline. Also if you make the goal grandiose that would be another way to hide. It is a recipe for guaranteed failure in goal achievement. 
  • Time-Keyed:  The goal needs to have a deadline for achievement. If you don’t set a deadline for completing your goals you will not be able to be accountable to yourself, or anyone else. If you are not accountable for your goals you will not achieve them.  Not all deadlines need to be 31 Dec.  Hyatt says “Distant deadlines discourage action”. If you are setting annual goals make sure to spread them out so you have two to three priorities every quarter.  However, if your goal is a new habit you want to cultivate then then deadlines don’t make sense so the time frame related could be the frequency of the habit, for example you are going to meditate 10 minutes every morning at 5am.  

  • Exciting:  This attribute in SMARTER framework is my personal favorite. The goal needs to be exciting for YOU! This is the key difference between a project and a goal. Every Goal (achievement goal) is a project but not every project is a goal. We are all working on different projects at work for example, it’s when the outcome feels exciting that projects become goals.    Maybe the work needed to complete a goal is not exciting like the goal of decluttering the kids’ bedroom, but I bet that the outcome of an organized and clear bedroom is pretty exciting.

  • Relevant : This is the final attribute of a goal, it’s like a sanity check if the goal actually makes sense. Is the goal relevant to your season of life? Are you a mother with very young children and you want to launch your own business? Maybe you can push this goal for another couple of years so you would have the energy and time needed for a new business. Maybe your goal is “travel to 4 countries during the year” while you have another goal “Achieve all objectives at your new role at work”. These 2 goals might be conflicting, and you need to decide what’s more important.  The goal should be aligned with your season of your life, your other goals and your own big picture vision of yourself at age 80. 


We only do the things we want to do and are willing to do.

Zig Ziglar

This is your Key Motivations list which you will go back to when the excitement of starting a new goal fades away. We already said the goal should be exciting and in this step you define the WHY.  You need to specify what you will get by achieving the goal. This is very important to pump you up whenever you read it or if/when you forget why you are pursuing the goal. The reasons need to be personal and you need to connect with them both intellectually and emotionally. You need to be clear on your gains when you get the goal accomplished and what’s at stake if you don’t. It would be great if you could define who or what will be impacted in your life by this achievement. 


 If the goal was easy you would have done it already, no? This time you are going to list all the potential issues that might arise as you work towards your goal. They could be external obstacles or internal ones concerning your discipline and willpower. Zig Ziglar recommends asking a trusted friend who knows you well to help you finish this step.

Michael Hyatt also recommends preparing if/then scenarios for each anticipated obstacle. Example (if it rains, I’ll use a raincoat during my daily walk),  (if I am offered sweets I will say no, I don’t eat sweets anymore), (if people interrupt me during my deep work sessions, I’ll ask them to note the noise cancellation headset and come back later). 


“Knowledge gives us the power to accomplish things we would not otherwise be able to do, and skills give us the tools to take advantage of our knowledge. There is a direct relationship between knowing and doing, and successfully accomplishing your goals will require that powerful combination. “  

Write what you might need to learn to make your goal successful, what books to read and courses to take. You might consider improving some gaps you have in soft skills like patience, time management and discipline.  


“People do a better job when we have the help of others. They can help us with knowledge and skill and can offer valuable advice we need to be successful. So when you set your goals always consider the people and the groups you can work with that can help you be more successful. “ 

You might arrange a phone call with someone who accomplished a similar goal to help you get started or book a coach. 


This is the most critical step and it involves thinking through the details of how you will achieve your goal. While your goals should be in your discomfort zone, your next steps should be in your comfort zone. E.g. call someone, research this topic, pay course fees…etc.   

For my goal “launch podcast in March 2020” the plan of action was:

-write podcast introduction

-record podcast introduction

-ask Yarub Samirat for permission to use his music in my podcast

– listen to his album Ya Salam again to select the music piece

-edit the music piece with intro, write a trailer for podcast

-select a platform to host my podcast …and so on.


Define whether the action items you set are short term or long term, if short term; set a time to complete each task which will help you meet your goal deadline. Add the proper reminders on your calendar and task manager application.  

Final tip:

Make your goals visible so you can read them every day. You need to write the list of your identified goals (done in step 1) in one page which you can review every day. It’s best if you commit to review them in detail (esp. Key motivations) every week. 


You have spent time planning your life way more than most people around you. Be proud of yourself!

Now it’s time for action.

You can listen to this blog post in Arabic through episode 10 of my podcast:

References: The goal making canvas by Zig Ziglar and YT talk.

Goal Setting Series: Part 4- Write Your Goals-The How

Goal Setting Series: Part 2- Dream about the future.

After reflecting on the past we need to look forward. But wait. Hold off your goal setting eager soul for just a bit. We are going to write our goals next time. Today, we are looking forward, way forward. We are dreaming about our future. We are doing that because we need more clues to know what really matters to us. Matters enough to transform into goals that we can write in detail next time.

In her PowerSheets, Lara Casey encourages us to think about our future in the big picture. If we determine what matters most to us in the big picture we will work harder to achieve it, we will get back up from setbacks faster and keep going.

Step 1:

You can uncover your most important life mission by asking:

Where do you want to be at the age of 80?

Make 2 lists.

What will matter to you most at the age of 80?

What will not matter to you at the age of 80?

Some of my personal answers when I did this exercise were:

What will matter most to me: strong loving relationships, good health, work legacy, exploring the beauty of the world, abundance, wisdom.

What will not matter: complaining, FOMO (fear of missing out on online lives of other), owning the latest gadgets, kids’ tantrums, how I look in photos, comments and likes received on my posts, number of followers.

This question adds a sense of purpose to your goals and what you do every day. Does your to-do list today or this week serve your big picture vision of yourself? Do they match at all?

We need to be also be super clear on why we want to make this big picture happen. If our how does not work our why will help us find another how.  

Add a few points stating why it is important for your big picture to become a reality for you. This would be aligned with your values and creating feelings of joy and satisfaction that you lived the life you wanted.

For example: my why for strong relationships is that powerful connections make feel alive and my heart full.

Have you noticed how your goals are getting clearer now? Your evaluation of the past and your big picture dreams are helping your heart know what it is your need to get started on.

Now for a very inspiring part.

Step 2:

What themes did you discover?

Spend some time reviewing all your answers from part 1 and the big picture answers.  You will notice recurring themes of areas that make you your heart sing and areas that need serious work to be back on track. Use a marker or a highlighter to circle or star those areas and then summarize them in few sentences.

This step took me around 30 minutes to do when I first did it. Some themes that popped up were:

Meaningful connections with family and friends. Slowing down. Self-Care. Spiritual practice commitment. Moving my body. Seeking new experiences. More fun. Go back to writing. Keep teaching.

Step 3:

Transform themes into goal ideas.

It’s time to transform those themes into goal ideas that you can start working on now. They emerged as themes for a reason. They are probably those dreams that felt most important to you in the big picture and maybe those that had the lowest ratings in your life audit.  Notice that maybe there is a lot to work on and that might feel a little overwhelming. This is why we worked on selecting what matters most to you. Goal ideas are easier to define after going all through the previous exercises. We’re only writing ideas and we will get into structured goal setting next post.

Some of my goal ideas:

Theme: teach moreà Goal idea: launch a podcast, revive my blog.

Theme: Spiritual practice commitmentà Goal idea: commit to the habit of meditation.

Step 4:

What are you saying No to?

What are you saying Yes to?

Lists are fun to do so now we are going to make 2 new lists of things we will say no to that hold us  back from being our best selves and say yes to things that expand our happiness and joy. These things could be inner thoughts/beliefs, habits/behaviors, things/possessions and type of people/relationships that we need to release and say no to in the next year/season or keep and embrace and say yes to more often. 

Personal examples:

No to: eating after 7pm, buying without replacing, sleeping less than 6 hours, meaningless outings

Yes to: planning family meals, finishing what I start, power naps.

Step 5:

Choose your word of the year

This word will inspire you when you are down, sharpen your focus, and will remind you of what is important.

How to come up with your word of the year?

Your answers to all the previous exercises will guide you, it could be a verb, an adjective or even a small phrase. What do you want to do/be/have MORE of this year?

You can google “word of the year ideas” and see what comes up and other people’s choices, it is so much fun.

Reminder: You can change your word of the year whenever you want, it does not have to be perfect and it is not final!

Write your word of the year on card and place it somewhere prominent that you will see every day.

My word of the year 2019 was Teach

My word of the year 2020 is Clarity.

Ready to learn how to set your goals in detail?  

Share photos of your goal setting notebooks with me in the comments or on my social media accounts. It is especially important to write down your goals in pen and paper, and I will tell you why in the next post.

You can listen to this blog post in Arabic through episode 8 of my podcast: 

Goal Setting Series: Part 2- Dream about the future.