6 Steps for Setting Weekly Goals That Work

A woman sets weekly goals in a planner by drawing out a visual timeline of steps.

Weekly goals are an excellent way to break down bigger goals into more manageable pieces. 

They’re also great for when you want to set short term challenges for yourself or need to get things done. They’re versatile, ever helpful, and go by in a flash (7 days to be exact).

But most people don’t set weekly goals. We set bigger picture goals, yearly and monthly, but our weeks tend to just be a series of to-do lists. However, weekly goals can help you supercharge your productivity and make more concrete progress on your bigger goals consistently.

So if you haven’t incorporated weekly goals into your goal setting repertoire, it is probably the  missing link and the difference between average productivity and superstar status.

Setting yourself up for success

Make yourself a priority. Block out some time (you’ve got 30 minutes to spare, somewhere) before your week starts. 

If your week starts Monday, find time Saturday or Sunday to prepare for the week ahead. Calendar it in if you need to, but commit to this time and make it, and ultimately yourself, a priority. You might not need all of the time you set aside (you know yourself best), but the point is to make time to truly plan your weekly goal.

Gather the tools you’ll need, like your planner, calendar, journal, pens, planner stickers, etc. and get comfy. 

Find a space that makes you happy to settle into a little planning session for your week ahead; this could mean putting on some music, opening the window for some fresh air, or making it part of your winding down routine in the evening. Whatever gets you in the planning and organizing mood is fair game!

Weekly goals in 6 steps

Have an inkling that setting weekly goals is a good idea, but don’t know where to begin? We’ll help you get started setting your weekly goals for next week in 6 simple steps.

1. Reflect on last week. Look back in your planner or your calendar and see what you did - what did you accomplish, and how did it tie back to your long term or monthly goals? Did you have an intention to do one thing, but went the opposite direction instead? Why did that happen? How are you feeling about the progress you are or are not making? 

    Answering these questions provides vital information: how you spent your time and whether or not you made progress on the things (personal, professional, whatever) that are important to you. 

    This step only takes a few minutes, but is very important because you are:

    • Bringing your attention back to your larger, long term goals
    • Determining whether or not the shorter term goals you set were achievable and realistic
    • Streamlining the weekly goal-setting process, establishing good habits
    • Avoid duplicating efforts in subsequent weeks or missing out on milestones

    It literally takes a quick flip in your calendar to last week and a few minutes of thought, so there’s no reason to skip this step! Of course, if you have time, you can also use this step as a journaling or list-making opportunity to document what you want to do better or should be celebrating.

    2. Look ahead to long term, yearly, and monthly goals. Similar to the process of looking back in time, take a moment to look forward to your long term goals (5-10 years), yearly goals, and monthly goals, or life events coming up. To achieve anything big, you have to take incremental steps in that direction over a long period of time. Every day and week is an opportunity to do just that (that’s the power of weekly goals). 

      Ask yourself:

      • What still needs to happen in order for you to achieve your long term goals?
      • What small things are keeping you busy today that are preventing your progress towards your bigger goals? How can you streamline or remove them?
      • Do you need to make adjustments to how you are setting your weekly or monthly goals to move forward on your long term goals?

      The added benefit of looking ahead at the future and what you want to accomplish is that you stay motivated to work towards them. In the grind of everyday life, it’s easy to forget the vision you had for yourself many months ago.

      3. Identify a few goals for the week ahead. Now that you’ve looked back on your recent past and further into your future, it’s time to identify what your goals are going to be for the week ahead. 

        Start by brainstorming weekly goal ideas based on your thoughts and ideas from steps 1 and 2. What are some logical next steps for big picture goal progress? What tasks from last week need your attention or followup this week?

        If you have lots of ideas, prioritize them based on what is time sensitive or important for you to make progress on. 

        Keep your weekly goals small because, don’t forget, you only have a week to achieve them. There’s no hard limit on the number of weekly goals you should set, but you must take into account the time commitment of each so that you don’t have more than you can do. 

        Remember that there will always be unexpected interruptions, so don’t overcommit yourself before your week even has a chance to unfold.

        Remember also that goals are different from to-do’s. You might think of your goals as a “theme” for your week. Here are some sample weekly goals:

        • Working towards the big picture goal of running a marathon, add a mile of distance to your training runs this week
        • If you noticed you were being interrupted a lot last week, set a goal to create more boundaries at work. Ways to do this: blocking off unavailable time on your public calendar each day, asking coworkers with questions to come back later, etc.
        4. Formulate a specific and measurable goal statement. For each weekly goal, make a goal statement that is specific and succinct. This shouldn’t be too hard because typically weekly goals are small enough that they aren’t too wordy or complex.  

          Additionally, find ways to make your goal measurable. For example, this could mean establishing a set number of ____ or set amount of time for ____ depending on your goal. 

          Basically, you want to be able to answer the question, “Did I really achieve this goal?”. 

          A goal like “eating healthier” is subjective -- it’s not always clear if you really did it or not. However, if your goal is “cook dinner at home 3 nights this week using fresh vegetables” -- you will know whether you did that or not.

          5. Set deadlines, reminders, and time for your goals. Weekly goals are only a week long, but it never hurts to set reminders for yourself throughout the week. 

            Once you’ve finalized your weekly goals, identify your deadlines and reminder days for each, then block time out in your planner for your work. If you have a firm deadline, reminders are even more important; write one or two reminders down in your planner a few days before your deadline day for the best success.

            For example, do you need to compile a guest list for your work event by Friday? If you see on your calendar that Thursday is already a busy day, start blocking off time on Tuesday or Wednesday. Write the Friday deadline on your calendar so you remember to turn in your work that day.

            6. Reward yourself for a successful week. If you’re using the Ink+Volt Planner, the weekly goal section is on the same page as the reflect and review section. This page also has a section for celebrating what went well -- and that is something worth doing every week!

            Your reward doesn’t need to be lavish. Even just taking a moment to acknowledge the work and the fact that you have accomplished your goal can be enough to feel good about your progress, and motivated to continue on.

            If you didn’t succeed, that’s okay. Now it’s time to start the process again by reflecting on what worked and what didn’t, so that you can do better next time (or the time after that).

            The goal isn’t perfection. It’s progress. And you can do that, little by little, every single week.

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