Setting Attainable Goals

We all have goals that we want to reach but when they are too broad, they can be overwhelming.

Feeling overwhelmed can cause you to sprint away from your goal rather than pursue it. 

People use either “avoid” or “approach” techniques in dealing with their goals. Avoidance tactics come from the desire to escape unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and even physical reactions one might have as a result of having what feels like an insurmountable goal.

….and who wants to have an insurmountable goal?

No one, that’s who!

How to Set Attainable Goals (Approach)

Here are a few steps that you can take to start making attainable, realistic goals:

1) Define your goal

If you make too big of a goal, it’s too broad and general.

Here’s are examples:

“I’m going to lose weight.” 

“I’m going to start exercising?

“I’m going to get organized.”

What the heck does that mean? How do you understand that statement? Where does your brain go with that?

If it’s overwhelming, it will probably freak you out on some level, scare you off, and you will go “avoid” rather than “approach”. 

When you make a goal, define and operationalize it. Make it very specific and measurable. 

Here are some examples:

“I’m am eating eating salad for lunch today.”

“I am exercising for 20 minutes on the treadmill today.”

“I am cleaning up the pile of papers on my desk today.”

2) Stay on today

Our lives happen from one breath to the next. Stay in the breath of today. 

Make a goal that you can accomplish today. Make it something that you can actually do TODAY so that you can get the reward of accomplishment. 


You will create the evidence that you need to see in your life to show yourself that YES you really CAN DO IT.

You have probably spent years and years doing what you don’t want to be doing. There are piles and piles of evidence from the years gone by that are in your face telling you that you can’t do it.

Making tiny, approach-based goals that you can do today are going to show you the EVIDENCE that YOU NEED that YES YOU CAN DO IT.

3) Keep it simple 

Just pick one thing. JUST PICK ONE THING.

A food, a snack, an exercise, a task….one thing. Press the easy button.

Don’t try to change everything in your life in one big sweeping motion. 

You need time to adapt, grow, and learn. 


Make space in your life for seeing the little things that you do each day add up into new habits little by little.

I often hear people shame themselves for not being where they think they should be. 


You need to meet yourself where you are right now.

Honor and value the space that you are in, that you are alive, breathing, and able to do the work of living your life. 

Have a little party with yourself that you are doing your life, one breath to the next.

Love yourself in this very moment in time. 

by Diana Zilly, MS, MA, LCPC. Diana is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Hypnotherapist, Life Coach and Educator, and former Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Joliet Junior College.

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