How to set goals correctly


Ziele richtig setzen in 5 Schritten

These 5 factors will lead you to success


Goals are visions of the future that are important to us. They guide our thoughts and actions and trigger our inner willingness to make an effort. Everyone sets different short-term or long-term goals – sometimes this is quite difficult, especially when it comes to life goals. Have you always known what you want to be when you grow up, what you want to achieve in life, or have you not yet set a goal? It’s worth taking the necessary time to think about it, because: Our goals stand like a compass over all our decisions and actions. But how do we best set up goals? Where are the stumbling blocks? These 5 factors determine whether you really achieve the dream of your life.

#1 Difficulty of the goal: The goal should be realistic and achievable.


Be ambitious, but also realistic in your goals. If you are an inexperienced athlete and set yourself the goal of running a marathon in 30 days, it will be difficult to achieve. But if you give yourself a year to train and set reasonable intermediate goals, it’s not quite impossible.

  • Realistic: “I take on something that I can only accomplish if I put in the right amount of effort.”
  • Too low: “I take on something that I know I can accomplish relatively easily and safely.”
  • Too high: “I take on something that I know is pretty difficult. Therefore, it wouldn’t be too bad if I didn’t achieve it.”

Frequently setting goals that are too high or too low speaks to a self-concept in which fear or failure drives action.

#2 Goal acceptance: To what level do you see the goal as yours?

You fully perceive the goal as your own – even if it may be given. Positive feelings follow from this when you read the wording of your goal. A goal that you think from the start will be stressful or exhausting has little chance of being pursued with joy and successfully realized. So feel free to adjust until you feel emotionally comfortable with the wording and believe that you have the necessary competence and resources to achieve the goal.

#3 Goal commitment: How committed are you personally to your goal?


Are you only willing to invest something for the goal or are you really willing to fully commit yourself as well? Because that’s what it’s all about in the end. To what extent are you willing to personally identify with the goal? Ideally, the goal should contain your motivation or your life goal. For example, “I want to become self-employed by January 1 because I want to decide independently what I do.” This is more effective than: “… because I can earn more money that way”.


#4 Goal setting: The goal should be precisely defined.

Use the power of wording: Phrase the goal as an approach goal, not an avoidance goal. People often think about what they want to stop doing (e.g., eat less candy, work less overtime). Avoidance goals, however, only cause people to think more often about what they actually want to avoid. Instead, emphasize the desired end state with an approach goal (e.g., get off work at 5 p.m.). This will increase your willingness to exert effort.

#5 Goal visualization: Good goals are visual

A good goal is like an architect’s construction plan: You can already walk through it in your mind, even though it hasn’t been built yet. A motivating force is created when an attractive image is built in. For example, “We’ll make two percent more sales in area X next year so we can welcome a new colleague to the team.”

With these 5 factors, you can manage to figure out what you really want and can make goals “your own.” By doing so, you will be spurred to higher performance and can realize that another crucial aspect is believing in yourself and your competencies. I wish you much success with your goals.


Debora Karsch


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