Goal setting can be intimidating, especially when you have no guidance besides everyone asking you about your New Year’s resolutions whenever January rolls around. The funny thing is that there is a lot more to goals than writing a few things down and manifesting their completion into existence. Not only do you have to work to accomplish your goals every day, but you also have to write effective goals in the first place.

We’ve broken down goal setting into three simple steps to help you actually achieve your goals. Long gone are the days where you reach December 31 and realize you didn’t accomplish anything you had written down at the beginning of the year!

Break Your Goal into Tinier Goals

One reason why goals are often unattainable is that it can be intimidating to get started. Looking at a huge goal like writing a book or losing weight can feel impossible when you don’t have steps to guide you along the way. The first key to setting achievable goals is to make them specific enough that you can break them down into smaller steps.

For example, a large goal like writing a book can be broken down into specific, accomplishable steps like writing 200 words every morning or evening. Losing weight can be broken down into scheduling in a daily 30-minute break to take a walk, do some yoga at home, or go for a jog around the block. Once you break down your goals into smaller steps, they won’t feel so scary anymore.

Reward Yourself

The best way to keep yourself motivated while working on your goals is to reward yourself regularly, and creating new habits to replace your old ones is a great way to keep yourself on track. According to Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit, forming a new habit is comprised of three steps:

  1. The cue (i.e., what reminds you to perform the habit)
  2. The routine (i.e., what you do as part of your habit.)
  3. The reward (i.e., what you do after your habit that reinforces your behavior)

While you can tweak the cue and routine to motivate you to do it more, the key to keeping yourself motivated is to give yourself a proper reward. This can be anything that makes the behavior satisfying enough to keep you doing it. It can be as simple as treating yourself to a coffee after a hard workout or allowing yourself some extra time to do another hobby you love after writing 200 words of your novel.

Don’t Expect Perfection

Many people expect to never have days where they slip up. They think that falling off the horse and forgetting to do something a few times means they have failed. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It doesn’t matter if you’ve fallen down as long as you pick yourself up.

Expecting perfection is actually a surefire way to leave you unmotivated and unwilling to keep trying. Instead of only celebrating perfection, change your mindset to recognize each step you take towards your goal. While rewarding yourself can be one great way to do that, you can also use your inner dialogue to congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Goal setting doesn’t have to be done in vain. With these three tips, you’ll be on your way to accomplishing your goals in no time. You won’t even remember the times when you made goals you couldn’t achieve.