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What You’re Doing Wrong When Forming Your Goals

goals and ambition way to success guarantee to reach your goal aGoals and habits are strongly correlated. Everyone has goals that they would like to achieve, but most people put it off for ‘some day’ rather than putting a plan in place. This article will help you to break down your goals so that they are much less overwhelming and more attainable.

What Is a Habit?

Habit Definition: A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

Habits are something that we do without consciously realizing it. For example, biting our nails, drinking coffee while watching the news, or scratching the same spot even when it doesn’t itch. Habits are something that we once started, and now habitually do on a regular basis.

Breaking the Goal Down

To reach a goal, we must comprise our day of many little habits that lead us to our goal. We need this goal to be

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Time-based

Otherwise known as a SMART goal. This plan holds us accountable and ensures that it will be harder to give up.

Tell your friends and family when you come up with your goal so you feel more accountable. This will help you to commit to your goal and stay true to it when you are talking to them. Also, do not think about your goal as a fantasy. Think of it as something that is definitely going to happen.

Everyone has goals that they have set for themselves. Whether it is to get better at baseball, lose weight, wake up earlier, or something else, it is accomplishable. The key is to make habits out of tasks that lead to that certain goal.

For instance, let’s say your goal is to be in better shape. To start, you need to make this goal more specific (the first rule of a SMART goal). Is it that you want to lose weight, gain muscle, or stay toned? Let’s say you want to lose weight.

Making a Goal into Habits

To form habits that lead to weight loss, you need to think of small things that would lead to you lose weight. Eating healthier, exercising, and drinking water are all things that lead to success when losing weight. So let’s break those into actionable and measurable steps that can become habits.

For instance, drinking water. You could buy a water bottle that holds 8-ounces and keep a sheet that you check off every time you finish a water bottle. If you are not at 8 before you go to bed, then you have to drink the ones that you did not throughout the day. To make it easier, turn it into a habit by drinking these water bottles after something you do every day. So when you wake up, drink a water bottle. When you’re driving to work, drink a water bottle. One with lunch, dinner, before bed, etc. Make 8 things you do every day become the habitual time to drink a water bottle and before you know it, drinking water will not be a problem for you.

Do the same thing for eating and exercising. Set a time of day that is convenient for you and commit to doing it every day. Exercise every morning right when you wake up or every day right after work. Don’t wait until that day to decide what time is convenient. We all know that it never will be convenient. So decide on a time beforehand and commit to it. Plan your meals out in advance and pre-make them. Don’t let yourself think about what you are craving when you get hungry. Just know that you will be eating the meal in the fridge. Eliminating options reduces the amount of work you have to put into achieving your goals.

Don’t plan a time for your goal to end, but rather plan a time that you will reach each milestone. Say that by Friday you want to have lost a pound instead of saying, “I’ll be done when I lose 20 pounds.” The smaller goals that lead to your big goal will seem more achievable.

The Breaking Point

When you feel like giving up, notice what is making you feel that way. If it is that you are tired, plan a 20-minute nap and then turn on some music for five minutes when you wake up to get motivated. If it is that you don’t want to drive to the gym, play your favorite songs in the car and have some pre-workout. Whatever it is that makes the situation seem less dreadful, do it! But stick to your plan.

When you start to notice that your tasks are becoming habits, add another task into the mix. You will slowly notice that your life is getting better right before your eyes. Unfortunately, habits take a while to form, but they are worth the work in the long run. By forcing one small change in your day, it could change the rest of your life.

Breaking Old Habits

Now that you know how to form habits, you can use the same philosophy to change your bad habits. If you tend to eat a container of ice cream every time you have a bad day, change it to talking a walk instead. This will eventually give you the same rewarding feeling that the ice cream did, but it will have a positive effect on your day.

For help with your goals or other psychiatry questions, visit

What You’re Doing Wrong When Forming Your Goals

Madison Ferry

Madison Ferry is a Digital Marketer for Happy Dog Web Productions. She is a guest writer for Allison Holt & Associates, a Twin Cities-based psychiatry practice serving children, adolescents and adults. The views expressed in here are Madison’s, and do not necessarily reflect those of Allison Holt & Associates.

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APA Reference
Ferry, M. (2018). What You’re Doing Wrong When Forming Your Goals. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 6 Dec 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.