Goal Setting Top Tips

Top Tips for setting goals & achieving them

Write it down 

In order to achieve a goal, it not only needs to be correctly formed, it also needs to be written down. Goals that are not committed to paper are just dreams. Action is required if a goal is going to be achieved – and there is nothing more rewarding than ticking off a list of tasks that lead to reaching a goal (especially if you are motivated by achievement and recognition!). If you write down goals and action lists, you are more likely to review your goal on a daily basis and monitor what you are doing to achieve it. I strongly recommend you use visual displays such as a vision board, so you know what it is you are doing and why.  

Measure progress  

In order to review your team’s progress towards achieving goals, you need to assess it in your team’s one-to-one meetings. To do this, make sure they reflect and prepare before they see you. A quick and simple way of doing this is to ask them to use the following review process.  


Write down what have you achieved. Remember, no matter how small the success, it’s still a success. If everyone achieved one per cent more within the team, think how far the team would shift. If you achieved one per cent more towards your goals, think how quickly you’d get there.  


The challenges you have faced or that you expect to face are probably the result of you working towards your goals, so make sure your goals are written down, so everyone concerned knows what you are trying to achieve, why you want to achieve it and how you plan to make it happen.  


Make sure you make a written note of all the opportunities that come your way, no matter how absurd or small they may seem to be. Just because you are offered an opportunity, it doesn’t mean you are going to accept it. It’s important at this stage to document everything because the more information you have, the more choice you have over what you decide.  


Focus on how you are going to grow and develop both personally and professionally. Make sure you recognise where you currently are in relation to where you want to be so you can see how far you need to go (and how far you have come when you get there!).  

Identify the Motivators  

Once your team has formed their goals, they need to identify which motivators will be satisfied when they achieve those goals. For example, if money is a key motivator, will the achievement of the goal result in that person earning more money? If it doesn’t, the goal may not be motivating enough to inspire action. As well as checking whether the goal is congruent with the goal-setter’s motivators, you also need to check whether it is aligned with an individual’s values. You need to do this to make sure the goal is not in conflict with your team member’s values 

Remove interference  

A phrase I like is from Timothy Gallwey’s book Inner Game. In it, he says:  

Performance = Potential - Interference  

(Performance equals Potential minus Interference).  

This is why it’s important to recognise and facilitate the potential in someone. I always look for the good in people and raise their awareness of what they are good at and why identifying these as their strengths. At the same time, I know it’s important to draw their attention to what gets in the way of them achieving greater success; in other words, the interference. Think about what interference you experience. Take a few minutes right now to write down what you notice. Below is what I find gets in my way:  

  • Emails.  

  • My thoughts and feelings.  

  • The behaviour of others.  

  • People stopping by for a chat.  

  • Phone calls.  

  • Absences.  

  • Compliance issues.  

  • Micro managing.  

  • Dotting the ‘I’s and crossing the ‘T’s.  

  • Meetings. 

  • Procrastination. 


 Some of the questions I ask myself, so I can get beyond this interference include:  

  • What is within your circle of control?  

  • What is within your circle of influence?  

  • Is what I am currently doing influencing my performance?  

  • Is what I am doing moving me towards my goal or away from it?  

I say to myself: “If you answer these questions, you will learn what you need to change because only you can decide what to change and know what the benefits of that change will be.”  

Move out of the comfort zone  

You probably recall me saying that it is important that a goal is motivating if it is going to be achieved. And for a goal to be motivating, it needs to take you out of your comfort zone. If a goal is not challenging enough, how likely are you to achieve that goal? Not very – it’ll just seem too boring. Likewise, if a goal is too challenging, what do you think might happen? Again, nothing, because the goal will appear to require too much effort and hard work to even get it started. The key to success with goal-setting is to make sure that each individual sets a goal that motivates them. That means your job is to check whether the goal stretches them. You need to make sure it stretches them far enough to stimulate them (so they are pushed into their learning zone) and not pushed so far that they go into their panic zone. This is why you need to raise your employee’s awareness of which of their motivators the goal is linked to.  

Motivators predominantly fall into the following categories:  

  • Independence/Freedom  

  • Recognition  

  • Achievement  

  • Leisure Time  

  • Power 

  • Prestige  

  • Money  

  • Pressure  

  • Self-Esteem  

  • Family/Social Life  

  • Security  

  • Personal Growth  


Ask them which of their needs they are seeking to fulfil by setting this goal.  

Is it a financial need?  

A family need?  

One that will give them more freedom?  

Do they need to feel more pressure because this is when they perform at their best?  

Next, you need to identify how congruent the goal is with their values. For example, if they value security, will achieving this goal help to secure their future?  

Remember, the word used to identify a value can differ from person to person, so make sure you understand what the word or value means to your team member before you can do this work 

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