Goal Setting

by Arielle Essex

Setting goals

Goal setting assumes you already have an idea of how you would like things to be different. It assumes you have a goal in mind.

If you don’t yet have a really big life changing goal in mind, you might like to find one by looking at The ultimate goal and Goal brainstorming.

A goal properly set is half way reached.

Abe Lincoln

The process of goal setting takes your goal and refines it so that it is well specified and understood, and conforms to some basic success criteria. The process means that you constructively focus on your goal with a level of intensity that is sufficiently high and consistent to kick-start the chain of events that will lead to its fulfilment.

Note that setting a goal does not include figuring out how to get the goal. That is a subsequent process; the goal itself must come first.

SMART and other acronyms

For a goal to be achievable, some basic criteria about how it is structured and formed need to be in place. Many acronyms have been created to remind people of these ‘rules’ for setting a goal. The most common of these is SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-specific. People have then added many other words to these letters, such as Simple, Meaningful, Attainable, Responsible and Towards oriented, which has confused the issue and made the words themselves less memorable.

The acronyms can certainly help, but you may miss an important step when using them. We have gathered together all the steps and put them in a list on a separate page so you can print them out, and use them straight from the page rather than trying to remember the different words that belong to the letter ‘M’. Setting a big goal is far too important to rely on a half-remembered mnemonic.

The process

Write down your goal and then go through the steps in the process.

Take some time doing this: really answer all the questions and think about what you are doing. If you miss a step, you risk missing the goal. Your truly big goals are important. Most people spend longer planning a two-week holiday than they take planning their life.

The process works just as well for smaller goals, but it is better if these are being set in support of a BIG goal. This way, they can draw on the juice and voltage from the BIG one.

The output

Once you have been through the goal setting process, you will have a goal that brings you out in a rash of enthusiasm every time you think about it. You have a goal that you can commit to.

You will have this sense of ‘How can it not happen?’ It just seems inevitable.

If this is not the case, you have more work to do, either on the goal itself or on factors around it, as there is obviously something inside you that is still saying ‘Yes, but...’

Believing you can, you can. Though you might not.

Believing you can’t, won’t change that you can. It just hides it.

Mike Dooley

If the only thing you are thinking about is what you need to do next, go to the page on Getting goals.