Introducing TRIM Goals: The Absolute Easiest Way to Set a Goal and Reach Success

Why does goal setting have to be so complicated?

complicatedYou just want to accomplish a relatively simple goal like weight loss, but then it gets real complicated. You suddenly have to track calories, look at fat grams, watch everything you eat, exercise multiple times a day, go to the gym on a revolving schedule, input your progress in a phone app, and generally set yourself up for failure.

One thing I know. Complicated personal goals do not work over time. Period. (Personal being defined as doing it yourself)

I’ve tried to disprove this simple statement for years, yet every time I think I’ve got a new solution, it fails. I can come up with great and detailed goals with  action plans, worksheets, and colorful graphs, but the more complicated it is the quicker I give it up. That’s not to say I haven’t reached success. But here is the kicker. If I want to accomplish a major goal. I need to bring in other people. That may be a coach, a team, or a crowdsourced resource. They provide insight and motivation to help me get it done.

Those type of major IMPACT goals we’ll look at in a different post.

But for today, if you have a personal goal such as

  • Losing a modest amount of weight
  • Saving money
  • Exercising
  • Learning new things
  • Giving to others

I have a simple plan for you. It’s based around my idea of SMARTER Goals. I just trimmed the acronym down and made it as easy to follow as possible, while adding an additional tweak that makes them more powerful.

The slimmed down plan is simply called TRIM Goals. TRIM stands for

  • Trigger
  • Routine
  • Insert
  • Mix ( Maximize and Monitor work here as well)

The trigger is an action that you take on a routine basis. Some examples

  • Getting in the car
  • Going to Starbucks
  • Coming home from work
  • Brushing your teeth

The routine is the current action sequence that follows the trigger.

  • Getting in the car: Turn on the radio and listen to music
  • Going to Starbucks: Order a Grande Latte
  • Coming home from work: Sit on the couch and watch TV
  • Brushing your teeth: Brush your teeth-rinse

The insert is another small action we can add to our current routine. Examples

  • Make a quick sales call
  • Talk to someone new
  • Hug your spouse or significant other
  • Floss your teeth

The mix is just combining our  basic routine with a small new habit.

The way this works is simple

  1. Start with an existing trigger
  2. Optimize your existing routine
  3. Add another small action or habit to the trigger
  4. Write a blended routine including your optimized routine and added habit.
  5. Test and maximise the blended routine
  6. Monitor your new routine for a while until it becomes a long term habit

So let’s take a quick look how this will work with our four examples above.

  1. Getting in the car: Currently you get in the car and turn on the radio every morning on your commute to work. Something that most people do on a daily basis if you drive.  Enjoyable, but not very productive. You optimize the existing routine by listening to audio books instead of the radio. Then you add a small new habit of making a sales call via bluetooth. You blend the combined routine so it works for you. You just write out the new routine in a positive manner… a TRIM Goal is created.
    I will make an initial sales call and then listen to productive audio books when I get in the car every morning.
  2. Going to Starbucks: Currently you go to Starbucks on your way to work and order a 600 calorie Grande Latte. You decide a rather painless way to lose weight is to modify this routine and replace the Latte with a green tea, which has no calories. You also decide you would like to meet new people, so you tag on a small new goal of talking to someone new each time you go to Starbucks. You blend the new routine so it works for you and write it out in a positive manner.
    I will enjoy a delicious green tea every morning at Starbucks and chat with someone new while waiting in line.
  3. Coming home from work: Currently you get home tired from the day and sit in front of the TV for an hour before dinner. You decide that you really want to make this routine more productive by writing a book. You also decide that you want to improve the relationship with your wife, so you create a new small habit of kissing her when you get home. You blend the new routine so it works for you and write it out in a positive manner.
    I will kiss my wife when I get home from work and write at least 500 words in my new book before dinner.
  4. Brushing your teeth: This is something you do before bed every night.  It’s a habit, but unfortunately you only brush for 10 seconds. You modify the routine by buying a new electric toothbrush that has a 90 second timer on it. Then you add a very small routine of flossing 5 teeth. Each time you floss you do different teeth. You blend the new routine so it works for you and write it out in a positive manner.
    I will use my new power toothbrush every night before bed and floss five teeth.

So as you can see we have quickly setup some TRIM goals and written them out. This type of goal is easy to setup if you start with some of your existing routines first and then decide on doable modifications and small new habits. Keep the changes small and you’ll find they are really easy to implement.

Maximize and Monitor: Once you have your new goals written out, spend a few days testing them and see if you can make small tweaks to maximize their effectiveness. Once they are working smoothly, monitor them for a few days to make sure they become ingrained habits. Since they are based on current routines, they are not hard to change and the new small habit is easy to add. The key here is to keep things simple.

Reap the Results: If you were to simply implement the four TRIM Goals above, in the period of  one month (four weeks) you would have listened to eight audio books (20 min commute), made twenty sales calls, lost four pounds, made a handful of new acquaintances, have 10,000 words towards your new book, a happier spouse, cleaner teeth, and a lot less unused floss lying around. All with little pain or fuss and few willpower struggles. The nice thing is, after a month of doing these new routines, these have become ingrained habits that will keep on leading you to success, month after month.

Goal Setting Can Help You Find Success

Episode 1: Goals Vs. Habits
Episode 2: Fight Training
Episode 3: SMARTER Goals
pisode 4: Testing & Fine Tuning Your Goals
pisode 5: SMARTER Goals for Life
pisode 6: This Simple Graph Made Goal Setting Stick
pisode 7: The Secret of Successful Goal Setting

Set a Goal With Our Free Goal Setting Tools

Goal Setting Toolkit
Goal Setting Worksheet

Goal Setting Ebook

Goals for Life: Set SMARTER Goals for Success

Goal Setting Quotes

Inspirational Goal Setting Quotes

Five Goal Setting InfoPics



  1. says

    I’m a fan of how language lifts, shifts, and shapes us.

    Great play with TRIM.

    > Complicated personal goals do not work over time. Period.
    Well put, and so true.

    I go for “3 Wins” for the year, so at the end of the year, I have 3 simple stories of personal challenge and change … my private victories.

    That said, I went a little overboard this year as I’ve drilled down into the art and science of setting and planning goals. I think I’ve actually internalized some new insights that I just never had to this degree before. But then again, I’m a life-long learner, and that’s how I roll.

    • John Richardson says

      Thanks for the comment, J.D. I am a big fan of making things simple and memorable. When things get too long or complicated, we either forget about them or put them off. Like yourself, I am a student of the techniques and results of goal setting. If I can’t remember the acronym, I’m probably not going to be successful.

  2. says

    Great stuff.

    This looks like the concept of Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg but yours are extended a little bit. But this one looks like something I’m interested to do every day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *