The Truth About Effective Goal Setting (What Actually Works)

We are really GOOD at setting goals. Professionals at it, even.

The thrill of chasing big ideas and dreaming about everything we want to achieve someday, this year, or this month, comes naturally to those of us who thrive on perpetually moving forward.

Achieving those specific goals, though, is a teensy bit harder. 

I should know. 

I’m a Type-A gal who can’t help but set ambitious goals.

Every year, I used to write down 10-12 new goals that would take my personal and business life to the next level. This was in addition to my ongoing bucket list of long-term goals!

Inevitably, though, I’d never finish all of them. Or worse, I’d start working towards a goal but quickly give up and move on to something else—usually when I hit a roadblock or external factors like real life got in the way.

And then the guilt trip started. I should be better than this. Why is so-and-so disciplined and I’m not? What is wrong with ME? 


Research shows that only 8% of people who set individual goals in January will follow through. That means 92% of us set goals we probably won’t even start. By February, many abandon their goals for good!

So, is there any point in setting goals at all?

Spoiler alert: There certainly is.

Why Goals Still Matter

As that list of fresh and exciting goals slowly turns into disappointing reminders year after year, it’s understandable to lose motivation to the point where you don’t care about setting goals anymore.

Goal fatigue and burnout are real. That’s why one year, I focused on building habits instead!

I just want you to know that it’s okay to take a break.

But if you abandon your goals entirely, here’s what you’ll miss…

  • That Sense of Purpose: Goals give you a clear path to follow and a reason to keep going. Your days suddenly become more meaningful and productive because you know what to work towards.
  • The Opportunity to Build Resilience: Goals motivate you to overcome challenges, encouraging persistence as obstacles turn into opportunities for learning.
  • Continued Progress: Goals provide a way to measure how far you’ve come, offering a sense of achievement and helping you stay on track toward your desired outcome.
  • The Ability to Achieve Your Full Potential: Goals stretch you beyond your comfort zone, proving that you can do more than you think. Challenging goals, in particular, are a great way to push yourself!

In short, goals are a good thing.

I promise you—your goals are not the problem. You are not the problem. You just need to change your strategy. 

Yearly Goals are Not the Answer

First, you must let go of the idea that annual goals work.

Think about it.

Year-long commitments require motivation and focus for 12 long months. It’s easy to procrastinate because we don’t need to complete yearly goals immediately. We have all the time in the world!

Until… we don’t.

When October rolls around, we frantically try to complete our goals by the end of the year, which is practically impossible during the holidays. Or we push that goal forward to upcoming year when we’re sure to have more time. (Ha!)

Setting and achieving goals requires a delicate mix of preparation, structure, and prioritization, and you can’t get that with yearly goals.

So, what about other goal-setting frameworks?

I’m glad you asked. Because I tried a LOT.

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  • 90-day or quarterly goals are pretty popular these days, the majority of which are based on The 12-Week Year. But this three-month time frame fools us into thinking we still have plenty of time to tackle multiple goals. Although this method worked better for me than yearly goals, I still wasn’t super successful.
  • Monthly goals are another alternative to yearly goal setting, but this time frame still feels too short to tackle a bigger project. Every month, I was frustrated that I didn’t finish my goals in time.
  • Others decide to forgo goals altogether and pick an annual or monthly theme. You then filter your actions through the lens of this theme to change behavior. I do this each year by choosing a word of the year, but I still like setting tangible goals as well!

Instead of conforming to a system that didn’t work for me, I created a new goal-setting process. And it forever changed the way I set and achieved goals! More specifically, I began to cross the finish line of the goals I set… not just once, but repeatedly. 

My original Six-Week Sprint method!

The Six-Week Sprint Goal Setting Framework

The Six-Week Sprint is the sweet spot where you can sustain motivation and energy for your goal from beginning to end without distraction.

That’s because The Six-Week Sprint is a focused six-week period during which you achieve one relevant goal OR build/break a habit. If needed, you can also complete several milestone sprints as you work towards a bigger goal!

I’ve successfully used The Six-Week Sprint to…

Here’s how this simple goal-setting technique works.

1. Choose One Goal (or Habit)

The key here is ONE.

Just like multi-tasking is a myth, multi-goaling is, too. And yes, I totally made up that term!

The worst goal-setting approach is to tackle multiple goals at once. You don’t want your goals to divide your time and attention. This is probably the number one reason why we don’t achieve our goals… we’re simply too busy chasing them all!

Focusing on just one goal will help you make quicker progress than juggling three or four at a time.

If you’re unsure what goal to choose, my Six-Week Sprint Goal Planner (built as an easy-to-use Notion template!) helps you analyze seven different areas of your life with a Life Inventory Assessment. When you’ve finished this process, you’ll know exactly what goals will spur you to action so you can make progress on the right things.

2. Clarify your goal

Before pursuing your goal, you should have a clear vision and plan of action so you know exactly what you want to achieve. Preparation is KEY to form solid, measurable goals!

  • Define your WHY. Why do you want to achieve this goal? Whenever you lose momentum or feel stuck, reference your answer to help you get back on track.
  • Pinpoint the potential roadblocks you might face as you tackle your goal, then brainstorm solutions to overcome them. You don’t want an obstacle or challenge to catch you off guard!
  • Lastly, choose a start and end date for this goal (your six weeks!).

3. Brainstorm All Action Steps

We can’t assume that our goal will magically achieve itself without some amount of effort. Goals are typically pretty big (some call them big hairy audacious goals or BHAGs for short), so it makes sense that you must break down your goals into a series of action steps to achieve them.

If you aim to hike to the top of a mountain, you can’t go from the trailhead to the summit in one big leap. Your action plan would be to put one foot in front of the other, passing rocks, signposts, and geological features along the way.

The top of Telescope Peak, the highest point in Death Valley National Park

Action steps also alleviate the overwhelm you may feel when looking at your goal and wondering how you’ll ever achieve it. This is yet another reason why we abandon our goals! They feel impossible to reach. But when you exclusively focus on the next right step, and only that step, you clarify the way forward with mini-wins.

If you choose to cultivate a habit instead of work towards an achievement-based goal, you won’t necessarily need one-time action steps. Habits are ongoing practices, so consider how often per week you want to practice this habit during your Six-Week Sprint.

  • Should you work out 3x per week to develop a workout routine?
  • Read for 20 minutes a day to read three books a month?
  • Set aside $200 weekly to save $1200 for a savings goal?

When you break down your goal or habit into as many actions or practices as possible, you create a doable and strategic plan to achieve them.

4. Assign Tasks to All Six Weeks

Once you define your action steps, assign one or more tasks from your to-do list to each week of your Six-Week Sprint. This helps you even the load across all six weeks so that one week doesn’t feel particularly heavy.

Consider the difficulty level or time required for each task as well.

When I built my capsule wardrobe, I only assigned one task (decluttering my closet and drawers) for the first week because I knew it would take that long to finish it and I didn’t want to set myself up for failure!

FYI: The Six-Week Sprint Goal Planner will automatically assign the right week to a specific task based on the due date. Even if you don’t complete a task within the week you assigned it, you can change the due date, and your week will also update!

Tasks assigned by week

5. Work Towards Your Goal or Habit

Now, the real work begins.

As you start each week of your Six-Week Sprint, do the task (or set of tasks!) assigned to that week. I promise you’ll be more motivated to work towards your goal, knowing that you only have six weeks to achieve it.

Every week counts!

The Six-Week Sprint Goal Planner includes a progress tracker that updates every time you complete another task. If you’re working towards a habit, you’ll maintain a daily journal where you can see week-by-week progress. 

By measuring your results, you’ll see evidence of the work you put in, which will motivate you to continue showing up.

Weekly habit progress

6. Reflect and Review

At the end of your Six-Week Sprint, take some time to review your goal, consider the challenges you faced, celebrate your successes, and list any takeaways or lessons you learned throughout the process. 

This might seem like an unnecessary step, but it’s so helpful to reflect on what you’ve accomplished so you can approach your next goal with more confidence. You’ll know exactly what you need to do differently to improve!

Review section inside each sprint

7. Start Your Next Sprint

Technically, you could start another Six-Week Sprint right away, but I prefer to step away from goal setting for a few weeks to relieve some of that pressure and help decide what I want to tackle next.

Self-care is essential to mindful productivity, so it’s necessary (and healthy) to take a break!

I’ve been using The Six-Week Sprint to achieve my goals for about three years now, and I usually finish around four sprints per year—one per quarter. This timeframe is the perfect amount (for me) to help me accomplish my goals without burning out.

Of course, I sneak in some additional projects here and there as well, but those tend to be smaller than what I would tackle for a Six-Week Sprint.

How to Effectively Implement This Strategy

I’ve already created all the tools you need to try this game-changing goal framework. 

If you haven’t read my book yet, Practical Dreamer is THE guide for ambitious women who enthusiastically set ALL the goals in January but are overwhelmed and disappointed with the lack of progress come February or March.

This book aims to embolden, facilitate, and ignite your journey towards meaningful goals with an attainable and simple-to-follow plan through The Six-Week Sprint. Plus, you’ll develop a motivational toolkit of my favorite productivity hacks to keep you moving forward in the right direction all six weeks!

The Life of a Practical Dreamer

Over and over again, I’ve seen this smart goal-setting framework help me and others finally make substantial progress toward the goals we set. When you narrow your focus to ONE goal for SIX weeks, you get things done.

It’s like magic!

That’s not to say you can’t create a list of actionable goals you want to accomplish this year. I still make my list (albeit a smaller one now!). I just use The Six-Week Sprint to tackle them one at a time!

If you’re ready to shift from the life of a professional dreamer into a practical one who strategically chases her dreams and goals, I invite you to release the frustration of past attempts and try this new goal-setting method.


  • Remember the “why” of what you’re working towards so you never lose the bigger picture
  • Get a clear goal setting system you can follow, with real-time progress tracking
  • Maintain realistic expectations of your time and energy resources

Goal Setting that Makes Sense

Create the life you’ve always wanted in just six short weeks. This game-changing goal setting Notion template is the plug-and-play framework you can use to achieve any goal or habit! You don’t have to wait until January 1st to start.

Grab my book, Practical Dreamer, for extra motivation along the way.

The most encouraging part is you don’t have to keep feeling defeated or disappointed about the previous year’s goals. You don’t even have to ditch them entirely. In fact, I wouldn’t!

Your goals are attainable, and you are capable of reaching them. I truly believe that. The Six-Week Sprint proves this over and over again.

Besides, you don’t have to wait until January 1st to tackle your next goal. The Six-Week Sprint works any time of year. You could even start a Six-Week Sprint as soon as next week!

And six weeks from now? You’ll be so glad you started today.

Change is closer than you think, and it’s much more attainable than you thought.

What goals (or habits) are you excited to achieve with this system?

Let me know in the comments!

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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  1. Hi Kalyn,

    Thank you for your habit tracker. I need to change my sabotaging habits and reminding me of these (1 habit at a time, as you prescribe) certainly is helping me to keep the change front-of-mind.
    Thank you very much, Kalyn!

  2. Hi Kalyn,

    I’ve seen your presentation for the summit Goal setters goal getters of Ultimate Bundles. And thank you very much for your free gift 🙂
    I just bought the digital version of your book Practical Dreamer.
    I saw you have a planner too. Unfortunately I can’t buy the 6 Week Sprint Goal Planner, because I live outside the US, in the Netherlands (Europe). Is there any other way I could buy your planner?

  3. Kalyn, will you have an affiliate program for Practical Dreamer? I can see this becoming quite popular with my audience!

  4. Hi Kalyn, I purchased your book Practical Dreamer Kindle Bk from Amazon Canada on August 7 2021 I was wondering if I could get the bonus Time Blocking Workshop as this interests me too.
    Thanks Darlene

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