Setting Goals – Using Checklists

Is it really necessary when setting goals to make checklists, or is that just a boring, restrictive exercise which you can do without? This article will give the answer…

Well, the answer is that they are not always necessary, but they are never a bad idea!

It depends to a large extent on the goal in question, and your personality, so the best way to explain this is to cover the benefits of using checklists in the first place – then see how it applies to different goals and personalities.

The goal achievement formula has many different components. These include mental aspects like belief, attitude, visualisation. There are also practical steps, and one of those is the goal setting process.

You can find out the other components which can change your life
in my book ‘Transform Your Life in 21 Days!’


Setting a goal alone will not achieve it, it’s just part of the process. It’s a huge part though, because it will lay out a path between where you are now, and where you want to be – a map in effect.

If you set out on a drive without a destination, you won’t know where you will end up, and if you set out on a drive with a destination but no route to get there, you again won’t know where you will end up!

It’s the same with goals – you need a fixed destination, and a set of directions to get you there. That’s where the checklist comes in.

With a checklist, you physically write down the steps you will take next. I say physically, because it’s important to get it out of your head and down on paper. Firstly because it helps to bring it into the real world, and secondly it will stop you forgetting steps!

You can start with big general ideas, and then gradually break them down into smaller and smaller steps, so you end up with specific actions to take. That’s a great way to focus your energy and attention.

You can also put a timescale on the steps – lots of people work best when they are facing deadlines, and I find it’s better that way than having an undecided timeframe, because no timeframe allows you to put things off.

For some goals, the checklist process is fairly simple. The steps are known, and can be ticked off without too much problem. Some goals are much harder though, because you may not know what all the steps are between you and the goal.

That’s not a problem, you just need to work with the steps you *do* know. As long as you have the next step planned out, you can take it. Taking that step will move you closer to the achievement, and will make the further steps clearer as you go along.

As the name implies, a checklist means you can check the steps off after you’ve taken them. This is a huge psychological bonus, because it tells your brain that you are making progress, it builds momentum and reinforces the belief that the goal will come to fruition.

Some people may find they would rather just get on with things than spend time writing a checklist. That’s ok, action is one of the most important elements of goal achievement, so if this is you, you can go with more general steps in your checklist. You can use the checklist as more of a guide than a specific map.

Some people are more wary of taking action, they need to be assured of success before starting. Well, assurance of success in goal achievement is a whole different article, but using a checklist will give you small steps to begin with, somewhere concrete for you to start.

So to sum up, do I think checklists are a good idea? Yes, they are a great idea! They are superb tools to help towards your goals, and I think they should always be used unless there is a convincing reason no to.

Transform Your Life In 21 Days by Gordon Bryan

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