Tips on How to Set Goals

As far back as I can remember I’ve been a goal setter.

At school I set goals regarding the grades I needed to go to university.

When I got to university it was about getting a good degree so that I could apply for a graduate scheme.

Currently my goals are all about how many coaching sessions I carry out every week.

Everyone says they know the importance and benefits of goals. Yet so many of my clients struggle to communicate exactly what their goal is, why they want to achieve it and when they want to have accomplished it by.

In case you aren’t yet convinced of the benefits of goal setting let’s remind ourselves of why it’s a good idea to have them.

Why setting goals is beneficial 

1. Focuses you on what you want to achieve.

2. Helps you turn your vision into a reality.

3. Stops you from procrastinating.

5. Measures progress.

6. Increases motivation as you achieve smaller goals on the way.

7. Can lead to a promotion at work with a salary increase.

I think we can all agree that a promotion at work with a salary increase sounds like a great result if that was your goal. So how do you go about setting a goal?

How to set goals

Setting SMART objectives seems to be the norm now in the workplace but in case you aren’t familiar with the format here’s what SMART objectives are:

  • S – Specific: You indicate who is doing the action, what’s happening, when it’s happening, why it’s happening, and how it’s happening.
  • M – Measurable: State the metrics that you’ll use to determine whether you’ve met your objectives. It should be a numeric or descriptive quality that defines quality, quantity, cost, etc.
  • A – Attainable: Is this goal attainable and within someone’s capabilities?
  • R – Relevant: Does the goal align with the broader goals of the company or department?
  • T – Time-bound: Include the date by which you’ll achieve the objectives or the frequency with which you’ll carry out the activity

Example of a SMART goal could be:

I’ll be promoted externally to HR Director by January 31st 2017 with an increase in salary package of 15%. I will have reduced my commute to a 30-minute walk instead of a 45-minute train ride, which will help improve my overall fitness and mindfulness.

To achieve that goal I will:

  • Update my CV and let 10 of my contacts on LinkedIn know that I’m looking.
  • Connect with 5 recruitment agencies and attend 1 networking event every month.
  • Spend time researching the company and do a mock interview with a friend who is an HR director.
  • Read a book on how to negotiate because I know I’m not a strong negotiator.

What may stop you achieving goals?

Once you’ve set your SMART goal it’s time to be honest with your self and think about what may stop you achieving it – what ‘roadblocks’ you might put in the way.

List these roadblocks and write by each one as many ways as you can think of to get around them so that you will absolutely achieve this goal.

For example it may be that you want to do a Master’s degree but your excuse for not doing it is that you don’t have the money.

Write a list of ways that you can increase your income and reduce your spend. For example, to increase your income you may get a flat mate, put your spare room on Air BnB or get a second job.

To reduce your spend you may negotiate new cheaper contracts on phone and Internet providers, cancel your gym membership and go for a run with a friend in the park instead, have a clear out and sell unwanted items on Ebay.

Or you could ask your company to sponsor your Master’s or see if there’s a scholarship available.

Hopefully you get the idea that there are ways around the roadblocks that may sabotage your success. Recognizing them early on and being prepared for how you’ll overcome them will ensure you stay on track.

Get support

To help you stay on track you could get a coach, join a mastermind group where you’re held accountable each week or try asking at work if there’s a mentoring programme that you could sign up to.

Reward your successes 

As you move towards achieving your goal make sure you celebrate the smaller steps so that you stay motivated.

For example, if your goal is to get a new job then your first step may have been to update your CV. Once you have done that reward yourself with drinks out with friends and once you have your new job with your increased salary consider booking a well-deserved holiday.

I hope that you’ve found these tips helpful. If you’re setting a goal at the moment why don’t you share this blog with a friend? Then you can set goals together and hold each other accountable.
Caroline Arnold 

Executive Coach

T: @carnoldcoaching

F: Caroline Arnold Coaching


I: Carolinearnoldcoaching