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Setting goals you can keep

Setting goals you can keep

Last time I told you about New Year resolutions and I posted the beginning of my blog post on Instagram asking every reader what their New Year resolution was. I got a direct message on Instagram from someone telling me her New Year resolution. The message read: ‘I want to improve my English skills’. My first thought was good for you, whereas my second thought was let’s make this achievable. So this post and the podcast episode is for you if you want to learn how to set goals you can keep.

What’s wrong with the resolution ‘I want to improve my English skills’?

Well for starters, it is very general. There are seriously too many skills you could want to improve. What do the skills involve? Reading, writing, listening or speaking? Or possibly all of them? Within each of these skills there are again categories. 

For example, if we take reading, what is it that you want to or have to read? Do you need to read business reports, books or articles?

For writing, do you need to improve your emailing skills or do you want to start a blog?

For speaking, do you need to improve your social skills with small talk or are you a speaker and want to improve your intonation?

As you can see the possibilities are endless. This resolution is too abstract. So what can you do?


Break it down

You don’t always realise what it is you need, in order to get what you want. Sometimes we do not see the forest for the trees. In this situation seeking support or guidance from a mentor is a very good option and a fast way to improvement.

A second option is to follow this road map to get you started right away:

Well, in a nutshell the first step to setting goals you can keep is that you have to break down the abstract goals into doable ones.


OK, easier said than done. How do you break down this abstract goal and turn it into one you can keep?

Well, start off by asking yourself these questions …

 1. Why?

Start with this question, as it’s a huge motivator. But watch out there is a significant difference between a need of something and a want or wish of something.

When I was in school I remember I hated when teachers told me I had to or needed to do something. I always wanted to know and understand the reason behind it, so I could want to do it. To know what was in it for me or what was the benefit, was exactly what I needed and wanted to know.

Here’s an example: you might need to cut back on your sugar consumption because of health problems, but you don’t really want to. How will you feel if you tell yourself you need to do something although deep down inside you don’t want to do it? You’ll feel miserable. Change your need into a want/wish. Once you realise for yourself how much better you’ll feel without much sugar, your motivational reason will change into a want/wish because you want to and not because you need to. So change your point of view and look at it from a different angle. That is a game changer.


2. What?

Getting to the what exactly you want to improve. Think about the situations …

for work

  • writing emails
  • giving presentations
  • making small talk
  • taking part in meetings
  • negotiating
  • giving a talk or speech
  • giving a seminar

for leisure

  • going on holiday
  • reading blogs
  • listening to music

then ask yourself what do you need in these situations …

  • Identify the category you need
  • Identify the situations
  • Identify you weakness
  • Sometimes that’s all that is missing. I’ve had students, who’ve had all the vocabulary, phrases, grammar and pronunciation they needed. The one thing they didn’t have was confidence.

3. When?

Identify when you need to improve …


Is this your Achilles’ heel? Do you forget the words you want to say when communicating  face-to-face? Or is it

on the phone

Or is it when you see a certain number you’d prefer to ignore?

in writing

Some of us have difficulties putting our thoughts into writing so others will understand what we want.

4. With whom?

Who do you interact or communicate with? Identify the people you are dealing with, are they …

complete strangers?

5. How?

The answer my friend is simple yet effective. Practice. In order to get better you need to practice then you’ll improve.

Do you get the picture?

Option 1.  Yes, I see it clearly! Now I know the secret behind setting goals I can keep!

Option 2.  Well, kind of, but I’d like some guidance.

Then this is for you:

Yvette and I are starting off next week with a five-week training course on small talk.

What will you learn?

We will cover the why, the when, with whom, the topics, how to start off and what to do then in five weeks. To make it easier, we’ve created a workbook just for you. It’s free of charge and you should use it during the training. You can download it here.

One more thing

We’d like to thank you for tuning in and downloading the podcast. We’d love to hear more from you. Most importantly you can help us by rating us on iTunes and if you like leave a review. By doing that you’ll help us get a bigger reach. We know that rating us takes up your time and that’s why we’ve decided to raffle three books among all of you who rate us on iTunes.

All you have to do to take part is to rate us and leave a comment. Make a screenshot of your rating and comment and send it to us either by email or as a DM on Instagram.

These are the books you can win: Atomic Habits by James Clear, Denglish for Better Knowers by Adam Fletcher and Paul Hawkins and Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker. You can participate throughout February 2019. We will make the draw on 5 March 2019.


You’ll find me on social media like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and Twitter. 

Of course, you can just schedule a call with me and tell me about your goalsClick here to schedule a call now!

Take care


PS Yvette and I have a podcast called “Your English Podcast”.  You can find it on iTunes and on Spotify sign up for it, so you don’t miss the next episode.

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