Ask the Readers: Do You Set Goals?

Goals are not just for New Year’s resolution. Some people swear by them, others don’t know what to do with them. Just because you have goals, does not necessarily mean you are taking steps towards achieving them. 

Do you have a method for setting goals? We have all heard of SMART goals, and it’s all very well to follow that method, but the key is getting the results, not merely the process.

How does your goal setting process work? Are you clear on what you wish to achieve? Do you find tangible benefits from setting goals? 



Journal about your current goals, and your current process. Is it efficient? If it is not providing you the results you need, what changes will you make?


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12 thoughts on “Ask the Readers: Do You Set Goals?

  1. hmmmm, I am embarrassed to admit that I go through spells of great ambition and I note my goals down….but then often forget to re-visit and check how I am going! It is still one of my “work in progress” skills! Jackie

  2. Dear Dolly

    My goals are set through my subconcience continualy kicking me and telling me to get of my lazy butt of the sofa – thanks subconcience, I love you.

    >Mind-map >mulled over >chat with friends and colleagues >small research if necessary

    I have a flipchart and I have time-lined the big steps in reaching my goals.

    Usually for the smaller processes of each step I mind map on A4 using colours, detailing the research I need to do and then I update, re-point and eventually sign off completed steps – Wow! and doesn’t that feel good :-)

    It can get quite messy, that’s why I redo my whole flipchart, to keep it clear,fresh and relevant.

    It stands pride of place in my home office so I see it clearly, which helps me to keep it energised

    There are times that I mind-map ideas and nothing materialises – either I lose the mind map, or something else becomes a priority. I look at this as just part of the process and certainly don’t beat myself up

    BEst wishes


  3. Sarah,

    Wow! You certainly have your process worked out :-)) I love the idea of a flip-chart, though unfortunately, I haven’t got space for something like that at the moment.

  4. I set goals but fulfilling them now that’s a different story and something I need to work on, goals put me under pressure!!

  5. Alison,

    If goals put you under pressure, then you definitely need a different way of working with them. Because when goals are in alignment with what you really want to do, they work for you, not against you.

  6. I have been setting goals and meeting them for a while now. I think that for me, the most important things are to realize how much time do I *really* need for accomplishing certain steps of the process (it’s usually way longer than I imagined) and not to overwhelm myself with tasks. Usually I manage to do the latter by making a detailed to-do list for the upcoming week (so that I can see how many tasks have I given myself). Every Friday, there are things that have been carried over from the beginning of the week so it feels overwhelming and I feel a bit like a loser, but then I have the weekend for relaxation, and start with a clean slate next week. Usually, the most important things are accomplished, and only things that can wait (or can be easily abandoned, if the goal wasn’t that important) are left over.

  7. Leva,

    There is a quote, to paraphrase it, people usually overestimate what they can achieve in a year, and underestimate what they achieve in a decade. I think that applies on a small scale too. We often overestimate what we can achieve in a day or a week, and underestimate what we can achieve in a year. So it’s all about being realistic, but also about planning better and being mindful of “wasted” time.

  8. One of the things I most often journal about is goals, but it just gets me more tangled up. I’m always clear about what I need and want on paper, but execution is lacking.

  9. JoAnna,

    I see contradiction in that comment :-) Do you mean that journaling about your goals get you tangled up, because you don’t know / can’t / not motivated to proceed with your goals?

    It may work differently for everyone of course, but with goals, I find that it needs both systemic and creative approach. That’s the basis of my EPIC 2013 course – reflection on what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve, and plan for how to achieve it.

  10. I find that my goals come in three flavors:

    – “Conventional” goals that easily meet the SMART criteria — they are definite and also “permanent” in the sense that once I’ve completed a brevet, gone on a trip or earned a credential, it “stays done.”

    While these certainly have their place, I find that this type of goal does not address the most important types of changes. I’ve realized that for a long time, but only recently did some reading that listed two more types of goals: “Habit” and “State.” (Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the author’s name — he/she really deserves some credit.)

    – “Habit” goals are an effort to start doing something regularly — exercise, save money, write one page of a novel or whatever. The key is establishing them as *regular* activity. They are usually measurable, but are never really “done.” Though there is usually a point at which they can be considered “established” and therefore don’t need as much monitoring. Though of course, they don’t necessarily “stay done.”

    – “State” goals are far trickier to describe and usually resist measurement. They can also come “undone.” Unfortunately, they are also usually the most important. They can be stated in many ways, but I usually think of them in terms of a particular quality of character I would like to have. For example, “Be a Good Husband,” “Be a Good Friend” or maybe “Be Physically Fit.” These usually involve some “measureable” aspects, like “I will do my weekly household jobs” or “I will lose five pounds in 60 days” days but typically involve some much more qualitative aspects as well — “my friends know that they can depend on me.” (Really? How so?) Journaling can be very helpful with that.

  11. Doug,

    You’ve certainly got the awareness bit covered of how you set your goals! Next stage perhaps is to turn your “state” goals into smart goals or equivalent :-)

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