Goal Setting Toolkit: Why Behavior Change Often Fails & How to Set the Right Goals for You


A Mel Robbins Podcast Toolkit (Plus Free Workbook)


Listen to the Mel Robbins Podcast twice per week, every Monday and Thursday, to achieve the life of your dreams.


This episode will help you set the right goals for you.

Goals matter. They make your life easier and they create a sense of purpose and meaning.

But most people don’t set goals the right way, which is why they fail before they even start.

That’s not going to be you.

This episode is a comprehensive toolkit that will help you set the goals that inspire you and make you feel excited about the year ahead. 

And, it’s part of our month-long series covering the foundational research and topics related to creating a better life.

Today, you’re not only going to learn the correct way to set goals according to research, you’re also going to identify 1-3 goals for yourself, and I’ll be doing the same thing right along with you. 

Have no idea what your goals are or where to even start?

Don’t worry; you will by the end of the episode.

You’ll apply the latest research every single step of the way. 

And that’s not all. 

You can access a free companion workbook at melrobbins.com/goals that will walk you through everything we’re talking about so you can go even deeper into this conversation.

Expect your goals to change as you listen to this episode, so don’t worry about doing any of this “right.” 

By the end of this episode you will have even taken the first steps toward your goal. 

How cool is that? I can’t wait. Let’s get started.

Xo Mel

For a free worksheet that dives deeper into the episode and helps you apply what you learn, click here.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • 1:15: How do I set goals the right way?
  • 2:56: Why setting goals is so important: the truth from research
  • 8:24: The exciting new research about goals from Dr. Birkman that you need to know
  • 10:56: My three goals for 2023
  • 13:05: I’m answering your top question about goals
  • 13:27: Four science-backed hacks to use when you’re not sure what your goals are
  • 16:20: Three qualities of the best goals
  • 21:48: Two components of a goal that you’ve got to have in order to achieve it 
  • 27:07: What neuroscience says about why your brain needs these two components
  • 31:25: The five mistakes we all make when we set and try to achieve goals
  • 42:41: A powerful question about goals from Columbia University researchers that you should ask yourself
  • 44:57: Why setting a “high-low range goal” will make you more successful
  • 50:33: The most important thing you should do once you set a goal
  • 53:06: Here’s the crazy irony about achieving your goals

Resources and study links:

  • Free PDF on goal setting that serves as a companion to this episode: click here
  • For Closed Captions: Watch on YouTube and turn on “CC.” For instructions to turn on closed captions, click here.
  • The Mel Robbins Podcast episode about dreams, to help identify your dreams: Your Dreams Are Not A Joke
  • Dr. Eliott Berkman: “The Neuroscience of Goals and Behavior Change”
  • Research on achieving resolutions: “The resolution solution: Longitudinal examination of New Year's change attempts”
  • Scientific American: “New Year’s Resolutions Are Notoriously Slippery, but Science Can Help You Keep Them”
  • Goal setting makes you happier research: “Increasing well-being through teaching goal-setting and planning skills: results of a brief intervention”
  • Dr. Richard Davidson’s work
  • Engineering Happiness book
  • Research: “Attainment versus maintenance goals: Perceived difficulty and impact on goal choice”
  • Research: “Coherence and Congruence: Two Aspects of Personality Integration”
  • Research: “When Death is Good for Life: Considering the Positive Trajectories of Terror Management”
  • Research: “Do mindful people set better goals? Investigating the relation between trait mindfulness, self-concordance, and goal progress”
  • Trailrunner: “The Psychology Of Setting Motivating And Satisfying Goals”
  • Research: “Third-person Perspective Is Helpful In Meeting Goals”
  • Dr. Richard Wiseman: “How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolution”
  • Roy Baumeister, Willpower
  • Research on setting big goals: “Attaining Satisfaction”
  • Research: “Goal Missed, Self Hit: Goal-Setting, Goal-Failure, and Their Affective, Motivational, and Behavioral Consequences”
  • BJ Fogg, Tiny Habits book
  • Heidi Halvorson, “Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals”
  • Research: “The Effect of Goal Specificity on Consumer Goal Reengagement”
  • Research: “The Unexpected Positive Impact of Fixed Structures on Goal Completion”
  • Research: “Effect of Goal-Setting Approaches Within a Gamification Intervention to Increase Physical Activity Among Economically Disadvantaged Adults at Elevated Risk for Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events”
  • Research: “When goals are known: The effects of audience relative status on goal commitment and performance.”
  • Research: “The Goal-Gradient Hypothesis Resurrected: Purchase Acceleration, Illusionary Goal Progress, and Customer Retention”
  • The Atlantic article: “The Dark Side of Going for Gold”
  • New York Times article about The Arrival Fallacy

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In The Mel Robbins Podcast, Mel takes you behind the scenes in real-time. Every episode is packed with tactical advice, hilarious screwups, compelling conversations, and the tools and inspiration you need to create a better life.