Having a super-effective goal template can make achieving your goals so much easier. It allows you to identify your motivation, plan the steps to be taken, streamline the process, prepare for inevitable hiccups, and then measure the progress towards your goal. A goal template also provides a roadmap that guides you from where you are to where you want to be.
What’s more, the goal template you use should be simple to use, easy to understand and adaptable so it can cater for different situations.
Perhaps you are thinking that this all seems quite complicated for something as “simple” as a goal template. However, I invite you to take a look at what follows to see what an effective goal template actually looks like.
There are many goal templates available on the Internet, and most are based on the ubiquitous SMART goal achievement system. However, we’ll be focusing on (what I consider to be) a goal template that is based on the more practical GREATER² Goal Achievement System*. Check it out when you have time.
What Elements Should a Goal Template Have?
Before we get to the goal template itself, let’s look at what an effective goal setting and achievement template should contain.
A goal template should not only help you prepare to take on your goal but should also provide a mechanism that will guide you through the process of attaining your goal. However, more important than both of these components, an effective goal template should help motivate you to achieve your goal. After all, motivation is the “fuel” that will power you along your goal path to the achievement of your goal.
Turning to our goal template, you will see that it is divided into three sections, each representing a phase in the process of completing the goal successfully – and thereby complying with what should be considered an effective goal template.
- The Motivation Phase
- The Planning Phase
- The Action Phase
You will find these three phases in every goal, although most people don’t realize that they are there, or they can’t recognize them as distinct components.
For the average goal-setter, the process of setting and attempting to achieve a goal is as follows;
- Firstly, having the idea to set a goal, for example, wanting to lose weight. This is the motivation phase.
- Secondly, planning – as best they can – to achieve the goal, for example, signing up at the local gym and buying a healthy eating recipe book. This is the planning phase.
- Third, just going for it! This is the action phase.
However, if we approach each of these phases logically as a separate stage in a coherent process, and we do so with purpose and focus, we can create a template that ensures that you can properly prepare, mentally and physically, to have the best chance of attaining your goal.
The Goal Achievement Template
On our template (which you can download via a link at the bottom of this page), each of the three phases is contained on its own printable page. The template is made up of the following elements;
- A cover page. Don’t print this out.
- Three printable pages (pages 2 to 4). Print these out.
Let’s go through each of the printable pages in turn. I will include instructions for each element of the template below and each section is followed by an example page that has been completed to show you how to go about using the template.
Motivation Template Part 1 – Motivation Phase
Achieving goals is all about motivation. If you come right down to it, goal achievement is simply motivation plus action. Period! To reach your goal, you must stay the course.
1. My Ultimate WHY
Before you think about achieving your goal, you need to find out WHY you want to achieve it. Knowing what your real motivation is for wanting to make your goal a reality is the only way to motivate yourself for success. Without a significant reason, one that burns within you like a fire, the chances of success are greatly diminished – especially where your goal will take a long time and a lot of work to achieve.
Perhaps you want to lose weight so that you feel more self-confident in order to find a boy or girlfriend. Perhaps you want to save money to give your family a nice holiday at the end of the year so that you can spend quality time with them in tranquil surroundings.
Bear in mind that your ultimate WHY is the desire within you. It is purely subjective and must be framed that way. This may seem selfish, but since achieving a goal in a deeply personal journey, the motivation to succeed In your task must come from within you. It cannot come from an outside source. You want to achieve your goal because you desire to feel a certain way. Your ultimate WHY is that desire.
So, in the previously mentioned examples, your ultimate WHY for losing weight could be to look good so that you know you are worthy of admiration and, eventually, love. You may want to save money to give your family an awesome vacation to experience their excitement before the trip, as well as enjoying the warmth and intimacy of being with them in a relaxing environment.
Instruction: Write down the real reason why you want to achieve this goal.
2. My Goal Description
Now it’s time to write your goal down. Here, you will be writing down the target you will be achieving and by when you will achieve it. The goal must have the following qualities;
- It must be gaugable. This means that is should be specific and precise. It must be detailed enough that you know exactly what you must achieve and by when. Use “will” instead of “want to”. So, instead of saying, “I want to lose about 10kg by the end of the year”, say “I WILL lose 10kg by December 31, 2020”.
- It must be exigent. This means that it must be challenging and not be a “cakewalk”. If you know it will be easy to achieve, make it more difficult. So, if losing 10kg by the target date seems like it won’t be too much of a hassle, undertake to lose 15 or 20 kg. in the same time.
- It must have emotional significance to you. Achieving your goal must be important to you. If it’s just “meh”, then you need to reframe it or perhaps consider not doing it.
- Although it is not included because it should be self-evident, the goal must be possible.
Instruction: Describe your goal so that it is gaugable, exigent, and significant.
3. My Motivational Visualization
Now that you know why you want to achieve your goal and you have defined it properly, it’s time to create your motivational visualization. Visualization had long been known as a powerful tool that people in the know use to realize their dreams. It involves created an imagined future scenario in which you have already reached your goal.
By describing how you feel having achieved what you worked so hard for, your mind begins to treat the achievement of the goal as a foregone conclusion. The journey from where you are to where you want to go becomes a mere formality in your mind’s eye. This increases your motivation because the attainment of your goal becomes less of a challenge and more of a simple procedure. Consequently, you are able to fill your motivational “fuel tank” up, the very thing that is going to propel you to success.
To write a motivational visualization, imagine you have just reached your goal. Write down a detailed description of where you imagine you are, what you are doing, how you feel, and what you see, hear and smell. Try to add as much detail as possible and use adjectives liberally.
Remember, you are describing a moment in time. That is all. It is all about the feelings and sensations you imagine you will experience. It’s less about where you are or what you are doing, although those things can be included for context so that the visualization becomes more vivid.
Finally, and most importantly, your motivational visualization should be written in the present tense. You need to “see” yourself in that moment, having achieved your goal, when you write your visualization down.
I would suggest rewriting your motivational visualization a few times to make it as expressive and meaningful as possible. And don’t be afraid to refine or change it as you move towards achieving your goal.
Instruction: Write down your motivational visualization.
4. Motivational Images
A picture speaks a thousand words, or so the saying goes, and this is true for motivation as well. Print out and add images to the Motivational Images block that will inspire you.
Using the examples above, if you are losing weight, print out a photo of your current body and add it to the block. You might also add an image of what you want to look like or how you used to look to show that you have looked good in the past and can do so again.
If your goal is to do something for your family, choose a few of your favorite photos of them, print them out and add them to the block.
Remember to change the images every now and then to “refill your motivational fuel tank”.
Instruction: Find images that inspire you, print them out and glue them onto the Motivational Images block.
Cut out Block 3 and 4
Once you have completed the page and are happy with what you have done, cut out the block containing sections 3 and 4 and place it somewhere you can look at it daily. That could be next to your working desk or on the bathroom mirror. The important thing is that you MUST read your motivational visualization daily. You should be able to say it from memory after a few weeks.
Here is an example of the Motivation Phase page of the template that has been completed.
Motivation Template Part 2 – Planning Phase
Now that we know what our goal is and we’re motivated to achieve it, we must get down to the nitty-gritty of “preparing the field”. We know where we’re going, but we need to know how we’re going to get there, what we need for the journey and who will help us on our way.
5. Step Goals
To make reaching the goal easier, we will break the path from where we are to the goal (what I call the “goal path”) into a series of steps. Each will be a mini-goal in itself, but because it is much smaller than the final goal, it will seem far more attainable.
To create step goals, take the final goal and break the result you want to achieve into equal steps. Try to fix each step to a fixed period of time. For example, if you want to lose 20kg over the next 10 months, break the goal up so that each step goal is to lose 2kg each month. Losing 2kg by the end of the month seems far more achievable than 20kg in ten months, even though they equate to the same thing.
You can also try weighting your steps, although we won’t get into that there. You can see more about weighting in this article.
Instruction: Write your final goal in the top block. Then write down your step goals in reverse order – starting at the top of the list and working downwards, from the goal to where you are now. Write the date they need to be reached on the left and the target to be achieved on the right.
Every journey requires people, skills or things to make them possible. Want to travel overseas? You need a passport, suitcase, and sunscreen. Want to lose weight? You need a scale, a recipe book containing healthy recipes, gym clothes, decent running shoes, and so on. You may also need the services of a personal trainer, for example, or you may need to learn a skill. That said, not every goal needs something.
Think about what you need and write it down. Then decide what is essential for the achievement of your goal and highlight those things. Those are the things you must get BEFORE you start your journey towards your goal. If your goal is to save money, it would make sense to have a bank account set up before you start.
The things that are not essential before you start can be acquired later.
Instruction: Make a list of the people, skills and things you need before starting on the path towards your goal and make sure you acquire or arrange those things.
7. Accountability Partner
Accountability is a great way to keep you pushing forward towards your goal. The best way to be held accountable is to find an accountability partner. An accountability partner is someone who will stay in contact with you regularly to ensure that you are sticking to your undertaking to achieve your goal.
Although finding an accountability partner falls outside the scope of this article, making such an arrangement can make achieving your goal so much easier.
Instruction: Find an accountability partner and write their name and contact details in the block so you can reach out to them regularly.
8. Rewards and Penalties
You can choose to use rewards and penalties to help push you towards your goal. Rewards can be small or large and can be a useful tool to establish a routine and later a habit, especially for what I can transitional goals, which are goals that establish a new pattern of behavior through habit-forming.
Using rewards requires self-discipline to some degree as rewarding yourself must only be done when your step goal or ultimate goal has been achieved. Rewards should match the achievement; small rewards for smaller achievements and larger rewards for more meaningful achievements.
Although penalties are not always the best option for motivation, some people respond well to them. If you are such a person, and you want to try using penalties for failure to achieve your step goals or ultimate goal (alongside rewards, perhaps), don’t make the penalties too punitive.
Make them humorous (like having to dress up like a Disney character and say hello to twenty strangers outside your local supermarket, or better still, visit the children’s wing at your local hospital) or constructive (in other words, something that benefits society, like cleaning up a local park or beach or giving food to the homeless). You even use penalties to get all those things you have been putting off like cleaning up the garage or repainting the study.
Motivation Template Part 3 – Action Phase
The third phase is the most important one. Use this third page of your goal template as a record of your journey.
Starting at the bottom, write down your achievements when they happen. This might be the attainment of a step goal, the overcoming of an obstacle or the reaching of a milestone. You can make notes describing each of this significant events.
The purpose of this page is not only to allow you to record things as they happen but also to show you how far you have come and everything you have endured when your doubts make you want to throw in the towel. That’s why keeping it updated is essential. Put it somewhere easy to see and easy to reach. It is a measurement of your investment in your goal.
Download Goal Template
Click on the link below or image to the left to download the template (116kb).
Although achieving your goals can be difficult, using an effective goal template like the one we have dealt with here can truly increase the odds that you will reach your target successfully. Even if you are skeptical, it costs nothing to try, so why not download the linked PDF, print it out, and try it out? It will take fifteen minutes to fill it out and it may make the world of difference to you if it helps you achieve your goals.
*A quick word on how the template included here compares to the full GREATER² Goal Achievement System, as contained in the book Plan, Achieve, Thrive: Successfully Achieve Your Goals With The GREATER2 Goal Achievement System (affiliate link). Although the template is based on the GREATER² Goal Achievement System, you will see that the template is organized slightly differently to the way the system is set out in the book. This is because the template is a streamlined version of the system, including the important aspects thereof but omitting some less crucial ones for the sake of brevity and simplicity. For the full system, read the book.