Personal Goal Setting Tips


As adults we often help our children to set goals for themselves. We even take the time to help them in many different ways to help them achieve their goals. However, we often times lose sight of our own goals and therefore have difficulty working on changing our own behaviors for the better. Are you having difficulty setting and meeting your own goals? Perhaps your goal is to read more books, or  learn a new vocation or hobby, or maybe even to lose some weight. Here are some tips to help you successfully meet your goals:

1. Decide what it is EXACTLY you would like to do. What does it look like when you are doing it? Phrase it as a sentence “I am going to……”

2. Break your goal into manageable steps. These are short-term objectives, or benchmarks, that are measurable and observable. What are the benchmarks that let you know you are on track to meet your goal? When do you expect to meet each benchmark and what will it look like when you are doing it?

3. Arrange your environment. Be sure to arrange the environment in a way that best supports the behavior you desire. The environment should both encourage you to engage in the behavior as well as allow for opportunities for reinforcement after the desired behavior occurs.

4. Record your data. Yes, it’s that dreaded word…..DATA! Collect data on your progress. Figure out how you are going to measure your progress. Keep a log of time, activities you do that help you meet your goal, or number of times you perform your desired behavior.

5. Graph your data as you go. A graph is a great visual representation of your progress. Use some grid paper or plug your numbers in an Excel spreadsheet and chart it. Your graph can provide you feedback, and can even serve as reinforcement for your efforts.


Here is a relatively “simple” behavior reduction goal I’m working on:

Goal: I am going to bite my fingernails less than 1 time per month.

Benchmark 1: In 7 days I will bite my fingernails no more than 10 times per day.

Benchmark 2: In 14 days I will bite my fingernails no more than 5 times per day.

Benchmark 3: In 21 days I will bite my fingernails no more than 1 time per day.

Benchmark 4: In 28 days I will bite my fingernails no more than 1 time per week.

This is a simple description of how a goal setting process can be implemented. This is not intended nor shall it be misconstrued as advice. As always, before engaging in any any major behavior change program you should consult an expert or highly trained professional such as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

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