Alison Untethered

Dec 1, 2017

5 min read

How To Set Goals To Get Results (Part 1)

Your no frills guide. Part one, focusing on the why and the win.

> This goal setting malarkey is tricky, it definitely requires a minimum of two doughnuts <

Setting a goal sounds easy but it is actually more complicated than you might think. There is a lot of psychology behind setting a goal and there are some choices that you need to make. I hope to help you choose wisely so that you can get the results that you want.

As there is quite a lot of information to take in, I have broken this “How To” into two parts. This is because I don’t just want you to passively read reams of information and then go back to your merry day! I want you to start thinking about your own situation and how these points might apply. This is part one and part two can be found here.

Why do you even want to set a goal? Why are you bothering? Why will this thing be worth your time and effort?

If you do not have a super strong why, you will not be motivated to get off your comfy couch and do something different. Whatever the reason it really needs to mean something to you. It will be completely personal to you and might only be important to you.

Typically your why can be something that pulls you towards a desired outcome. It will be something that you want so badly that you find yourself often thinking, reading or talking about it.


  • Goal = write my own novel Why = so I can go on a book tour and meet fans
  • Goal = own my business Why = so I can travel the world
  • Goal = pass my exams Why = so I can prove to my tutor I can do it
  • Goal = learn the guitar Why = so I can hear my song on the radio
  • Goal = lose weight Why = so I can buy a size 10 wedding dress and feel
    gorgeous on my big day

Your why can also be something that pulls you away from an undesired outcome. This may be something that you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about.


  • Goal = Get six pack abs Why = so I don’t feel self-conscious when I swim
  • Goal = Touch my toes Why = so I am not the only person in my yoga class who cannot do it
  • Goal = Qualify as a X Why = so I never have to wait tables again
  • Goal = Buy a new BMW Why = so I don’t feel embarrassed when I turn up to client meetings in my hunk-a-junk car

You can choose a “towards” or an “away” why or even combine the two as they tend to be opposites of each other. You just need to think about what is the most motivating image for you. The bit that you keep coming back to over and over again in your day dreams — that is your why!

So now you have your “why” in mind, it is time to move onto the “what”. What is your goal?

It turns out, how you phrase your goal is really important. The outcome that you want can be worded in different ways, and some ways are better than others.

For example, if your goal is to lose want to lose weight you could write it as:

Option 1. I want to get to X kilos
Option 2. I will go to the gym 5x per week

Both of the options relate to your goal of losing weight, but which one is the most effective way to phrase it?







Don’t just read on you eager beaver! Take a second to really think about it.






And the answer is… Option 1!

In Option 1 you focus on the win. When you set a goal, you should define the ultimate outcome that you want to achieve, and NOT what you are going to do to achieve it!

If you want to lose weight then the win is losing a specific number of kilos ang getting to your target weight. Option 2, going to the gym, is a method to lose weight. It is a proxy for losing weight. You could still go to the gym five times a week and NOT lose weight, therefore going to the gym is not the ultimate outcome that you want!

By the way, this doesn’t mean that the method isn’t important (we will come onto this later on in the series), just that it is not how you should word your goal.

There are a few good reasons to start with the end in your mind. Firstly your goal should be something that you can only measure once. We haven’t talked about timings yet, but there will be a time frame on your goal. When your allocated time is up, you will be able to check and see if you have actually achieved what you set out to achieve. When you have a “do something per week/month” goal, then it just goes on and on indefinitely. One week you might achieve your goal, one week you might not….so what? It’s not meaningful.

Secondly a “what” goal penalises you for not hitting your standard exactly. You may go to the gym 4x a week which would be seen as a failure, (although anyone who goes to the gym 4x a week is 100% winning in my book). And it doesn’t recognise that you might have done other things to contribute to your goal, like fasting for a day or meal prepping for the week ahead.

Thirdly you may go to the gym 5x a week but do a crappy workout where you lift easy weights, or only go on the treadmill for 3 minutes. According to the “what” goal, this would still be an achievement, but it wouldn’t move you any closer to your why.

A win goal gets you to focus on the results that you want and recognises that you can be flexible in how you will achieve them.

Thank you for reading! 😃 If you have enjoyed this, please consider clapping or sharing my post. Don’t forget you can also read part two here! Let me know in the comments below, what is your why that will sustain you throughout your goal attempt?

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