Tips on Setting and Meeting Goals

Tips on Setting and Meeting Goals

barrow of tulipsI am stepping out of my usual pattern in order to think about goal setting. So make a cuppa, and leave a comment if you have other approaches or tips to share.

Many people think of New Year resolutions as simply a silly list of  things to do that we turn around and break within weeks. However this does miss an opportunity in shaping  want to achieve.

Some people let life just happen to them while others want to take control and shape their life as much as possible. As anyone who has been through a natural disaster knows we do not have total control over what happens in life but I am one of those that attempts to shape my life where I can and learn from what I cant. For me Goal setting is important and I am currently thinking about what I want to do next year.

Somebody once said to me that

A dream is a dream

A Goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline

For goal setting to work it has to be clearly defined, measurable, realistic and have a dead line.

Be specific

Instead of saying “I want do more drawing in my visual journal” state that you want to work in your studio journal for 30 minutes 3 days a week.

Measure your goal

tape measureAn aspect of being specific is measurement. Make sure you can measure your goal. Instead of saying “I want to lose weight” state that you want to lose 5 kilos. Or instead of saying “I want to do TAST” state next year “I want work 20 stitches in the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge

Set realistic goals

Look at what is possible in your life.  I know I am not able draw for 2 hours each day, every day of the year. I am too busy but I can find 30 minutes for two days a week on the weekend. That would be an easy goal. Since the goal is to draw more and to push myself I can reasonably set a goal of 30 minutes 3 days a week. It is a realistic goal with a bit of challenge.

Keep it simple

Focus your energy on fewer but clearly defined  goals. Some people have huge long lists of goals that never get done. It easier to simplify a list down and tackle a few things one at a time. I make sure my list will fit on an index card. This makes me prioritise my most important goals and makes for very clear targets to work towards.

Have a deadline

A deadline avoids setting vague or distant goals. Define what you are going to do and when.  It is easy to let time slide by but if you set a deadline you are constantly reminded that you need to work towards that goal if you are going to achieve it.

Plan how you will achieve your goal

embroidery threaddsThink about how you might accomplish your goals. Some folks might say “I want to do crazy quilting” instead of  “I want to enrol in a crazy quilt class.” Figure out how you are going to achieve your goal and make a step towards it.

Break your large goal down into smaller parts

Sometimes a goal is too big to envision yourself being able to do it. Break your large goal down into smaller goals. So if you want to make a crazy quilt. Think in terms of making 8 or 12 blocks. Make each block the goal.


It is easy to set as goal but staying motivated can be an issue for some. I have a few tips to stay motivated

Constantly remind yourself

Affirmative repetition reminds you of your goal. Some people make a note and stick it on their fridge door or inside their wardrobe cupboard or inside the cover of studio journal to remind them constantly of what they are working towards. I pin a note on the wall in front of my desk and often also have it an image on computer desktop too. No matter what you do find a way to constantly remind your self what you want to achieve.

Go Public

Declare your goal publicly and be accountable. If you commit yourself publicly to a goal, through a forum, on a blog or to friends and family apart from the fact that none of us likes to look bad, in voicing a commitment solidifies that goal. Once you have stated publicly that you have a goal be accountable to that group of people and report back to them weekly or monthly, what ever is appropriate and stick do it! This of course is the principal behind  Work in Progress Wednesdays on this blog.

Avoiding getting side tracked

I am a great one for getting side tracked particularly online! So when I sit down I ask myself. How does this advance me towards my goal. Be aware of your actions and  allow yourself to be deflected from your goal. Spend time planing, but dont use preparations, and research to avoid setting real goals and working towards them.

Be kind to yourself

It takes time to established a new habit. Don’t beat yourself up if you get side tracked just remind yourself of what your goal is and set about getting back on track. This year I took part in the Crazy Quilt Journal Project and many readers watched as I fell behind. Life happens and often life is not lived on timetable. Nothing wrong with that (in fact it can make for an interesting time of it) but once the side track has run its course return to your main goal.

It is OK to change

Goals change and that is OK to. Sometimes a goal is not clearly defined, or its meaning changes.  It’s OK to change and often this means growth if you no longer have that goal it is simple set new ones and change direction.  In the textile world this particularly applies to projects started and not completed. If something is unfinished ask yourself if you really want it perhaps you have grown in  another direction and its time simply to toss it! Radical thought I know, but it is liberating as it frees up time for things you want to do.

What do you think?

What do you do to achieve your goals. Do you set them, meet them or forget them? If you have any further tips share it in a comment. I would love to read it.


  1. I used to set goals. Following some time management programs I have been instructed in as part of my training as a staff supervisor, I even listed my values in all aspects of life, ie., health, wealth, spirituality, community, etc. Then I based my goals on what growth I wanted to see in those areas of my life. Then I created mini-goals and to do lists of steps to accomplish these goals with review and revise periods worked into the year.

    I always felt on top of things back then. I felt like I was moving forward as opposed to being stuck in the Sargasso Sea, just another piece of flotsam and jetsam, to the point of affecting those around me negatively, keeping them stuck with me.

    This is doable. Perhaps my goal for this year is to get back to that way of looking at my days and nights. To feel like it’s my life again. Having the leg injury from Hell has really sucked a lot out of me and my Jeff and my dog/babies. It has made me feel helpless. And I’m not.

    Thank you so much, Sharon, for reminding me of this. It’s amazing how what you need to hear or see shows up in one’s life just in time! Gotta love Synchronicity and Carl Jung and all great teachers!

    Peace and Happy, Prosperous, Production, but mostly Happy New Year to all!

  2. Great post and also great comments too! Full of good ideas about how to reach my own goals.
    My little tip to share: Sometimes my plans for a project seem intimidating, but if I identify just the next small step, even something like winding a bobbin, I put that on my list of things to do, rather than just writing down ‘finish the quilt’. Often (not always) when I do that little step, I get on a roll and get a lot more done.

  3. Hi Sharon,
    Thanks for sharing your pearls of wisdom. they are very useful.
    I totally agree with your steps in taking charge of our life, time and resources.which are limited and in some cases temporary.
    I also feel, taking these steps as broad guidelines , each one should analyse their personal strength and weakness in these fields and customise a routine for themselves.
    Talking about myself, from the time I started visiting your blog-your- volume of work, creativity,your generosity,interests -completely floored me. you are amazing.
    They were so inspiring that, slowly I also wanted to improve myself, which started with time management ,then regulating the thoughts towards a particular goal, being accountable , truthful to myself.
    these things have helped me a lot.
    thank you for your tips and giving the opportunity to share my experience

    chitra gangadharan
  4. This is a very interesting topic. I agree with your arguments, Sharon, and like Carolyn, for me goal setting is habit since childhood.

    I believe we are born with different characteristics, e.g tempo, creativity and order. If you already have it in you, you will work quickly or tidy up after you without thinking. For such people planning and being loyal to the goals they set is second nature.

    Others, however, can learn time management and how to set and realise goals. I believe it is good to build up a kind of routine, e.g. brush teeth after every meal, make the bed, sit down and stitch 15 minutes every evening. Boring, but once you start doing things automatically, life runs more smoothly, and you have time and freedom to be bohemian.

    I think baby steps is a great way to take charge of your life. Limit your goals to just a few and it is much easier to stay focused on them.

    I think weeding out UFOs that will probably never be finished is a good idea. It is a relief to no longer have those ‘must finish one day’ projects in a box under the bed where they spread guilty feelings and stress like a disease. Toss out or give away.

    To be able to do each TAST stitch within the week it has been posted I decided to work just a few sample stitches for when I knew I would be busy and splash out on a more complex design for when I expected to have time.

    Many things need to be completed before a time we already know now e.g. that wedding present, the entry to the quilt show… Taking out a calendar and making goals for the various steps is good planning. The blocks must be finished by February, the border should be on by March and the quilting completed by May, and then the gift will be ready for the June wedding.

    Going public, keeping a blog, sharing the progress with family and friends are all good ‘carrots’. Work in Progress Wednesday has been a GREAT help to me!

    Most important of all, however, is to enjoy! When needlework becomes a burden or bore, it is time to give up!

    Happy stitching!

  5. Thank you so much for reminding me to think about my goals. Keep it simple is a must for me and I love the idea that change is OK.

    I make a small folder with my goals in pictures and words. Reading through this folder helps to keep me on track. I’ll add some appropriate pictures of special rewards.

    One thing I will definitely do next year is join the Wednesday work in progress however I’ll work out how to do this simply.

  6. Of course, I want to do much more things than I can!
    But the good news are that I always do them ! How?
    I just don’t need to have a day, or month to finish the project,one thing comes after the other and when I finish this one I’ll do the other . The only one thing I need to know is that I keep doing something every day or week. Some big projects have to wait a little more. Meanwhile I do many small ones. And when I am satisfied with the small ones (so many!) I come back to the bigs like bed quilts. These are hard to finish… But I know that there will have some rainy days to finish it !

  7. I agree with all you say. I only want to emphasize the “danger” of getting side tracked by the computer. How many times does it happen you only want to check your email? Before you know it, an hour is gone because you did also other things you didn’t planned and that were unnecessary. Before I turn on the computer I ask myself what I really want to do and try to stick with that.

  8. love this post, I write goals down on paper and then a year or so find them, things do get lost here believe it or not and lo and behold I have done them. The writing down is my key. I love all that yousaid and will print it off and put by my computer. Thanks and love your site. xoxo

  9. Thanks Sharon for sharing your ideas; it’s nice to see the ideas set out. One thing I have often found helps me is to reward myself when I have achieved a goal, especially if the project is big (getting through 2/3 mini goals then a treat of a magazine or special thread that you would like in your stash but is a bit over budget). Making it special for ‘you’.

    I like the idea of ‘going public’, it really does give a sense of accountability and the encouragement that you receive from the comments spurs one on.

  10. Since finding your website, I decided to enter some of my cross stitch, needlepoint, and blackwork pieces into the various needlework shows, the county fair, and the state fair. So, I have 3 pieces getting framed as I type, and I “try” to spend about 10 hours a week stitching. My goal? Getting my stuff out there and showing what I can do.

  11. I thought I was weird looking at setting goals for next year. I’m so glad that there are others who do the same thing. I follow pretty much the same list of do’s and don’ts that you have listed above. The only one I have problems is ‘going public’. My family have always been harsh critics.

    Life sometimes steps in and changes your life so I like to have a fall back position. This year I was off my feet for a good part of the year so I just had to be flexible. I usually post me goals on my blog at the beginning of the year and then check back to see how I am going or if my direction should change. Setting goals is a habit I started as a child and it took form and structure as I moved into life. I don’t think I could face each day without them.

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