Introduction to Goal Setting:
(adapted from http://www.careers.unsw.edu.au/careerEd/planning/act/goalSetting.aspx)
Whenever you achieve something worthwhile, you probably have consciously or sub-
consciously realized a goal. Goals are useful as they keep you focused on your specific
purpose. They can act as reminders, incentives or as steps that can assist you in doing the
things you want to do.
Goal setting is used widely; it is used by top-level athletes, business-people and high
achievers in all fields. Goal setting can also be a more formal process for career and personal
planning. The process of setting goals and targets for your career allows you to:
• Stay focused on your objective
• Decide what is important for you to achieve in your life and to start, step-by-step,
achieving these goals.
• Be in control of where you go in life. By reflecting on and then recording exactly what
you want to achieve, you know what you have to concentrate on to do it.
• Separate what is important from what is irrelevant. Goal setting helps you work out what
not to concentrate on, what decisions to choose in relation to your goals, and keeps
your focus away from distractions.
• Motivate yourself to achievement. It gives you long-term vision and short-term
motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge and helps you to organize your
• Track and record your progress and achievements.
• Increase your self-confidence as you develop your level of competence in achieving
your goals. This is very important, as self-confidence is critically important during the job
searching process and many organizations place a high value on this quality.
How to Begin Setting Goals:
You can create goals on several levels. You can create larger scale, overarching goals related
to your personal and career wants and needs. You can then create sub-goals and tasks under
different areas of the larger goals. You can also create short, medium, and long-term goals.
Once you have stated and recorded your goals, you can break them down into the smaller
targets and tasks that will take you towards your long-term goals. Once you have a plan, you
start working towards achieving it.
SMART Goal Setting (adapted from http://www.goal-setting-guide.com/smart-goals.html)
Pick up a pen and a piece of paper and jot down the goals you want to reach. Look at each
goal and evaluate it. After writing your goals down, read the following information on SMART
goals. Make any changes necessary to ensure your goals meet the SMART goals criteria:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely
Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us
focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do.
Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model.
WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organize, coordinate, lead,
develop, plan, build etc.
WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you ultimately want to accomplish?
HOW are you going to do it?
WHEN are you going to do it?
Ensure the goals you set are very specific, clear, and easy. Instead of setting a goal to lose
weight or be healthier, set a specific goal to lose 2cm off your waistline or to walk 5 miles at an
aerobically challenging pace.
If you can not measure it, you can not manage it. In the broadest sense, the whole goal
statement is a measure for the project; if the goal is accomplished, there is a success.
However, there are usually short-term measurements you can build into your goal.
Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. How will you
see when you reach your goal? Be specific. "I want to read 3 chapter books of 100 pages on
my own before my birthday" shows the specific target to be measure. "I want to be a good
reader" is not as measurable.
Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you
set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and
experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to
reach your goals.
When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can
make them come true. You develop that attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to
reach them. Your begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to
the achievement of your goals.
Goals you set which are too far out of your reach, you probably will not commit to doing.
Although you may start with the best of intentions, the knowledge that it's too much for you
means your subconscious will keep reminding you of this fact and will stop you from even
giving it your best.
A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real
commitment from you. For instance, if you aim to lose 20 lbs. in one week, we all know that
is not achievable. However, setting a goal to loose 1 lb. and when you have achieved that,
aiming to lose a further 1 lb., will keep it achievable for you.
The feeling of success this brings helps you to remain motivated.
This is not a synonym for "easy." Realistic, in this case, means "do-able." It means that the
learning curve is not a vertical slope; that the skills needed to do the work are available; that
the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organization. A realistic project may
push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it should not break them.
Devise a plan or a way of getting there which makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be
realistic for you, and where you are now. A goal of never again eating sweets, cakes, chips,
and chocolate may not be realistic for someone who really enjoys these foods.
For instance, it may be more realistic to set a goal of eating a piece of fruit each day instead of
one sweet item. You can then choose to work towards reducing the amount of sweet products
gradually as and when this feels realistic for you.
Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort. Too difficult and you set the stage for
failure, but too low sends the message that you are not very capable. Set the bar high
enough for a satisfying achievement.
Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, by graduation. Putting an end-
point on your goal gives you a clear target to work toward.
If you do not set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel
you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there is no urgency to start taking action now.
Time must be measurable, attainable, and realistic.
Everyone will benefit from goals and objectives if they are SMART. SMART, is the instrument
to apply in setting your goals and objectives.
STEP 1: Define what the acronym SMART means in your own words, type
and submit electronically, or print and hand in to your instructor.
Now that you understand about goals and objectives, it is time to decide on some specifics.
Remember: goals that are consistent with your values, interests, and lifestyles are more
likely to be achieved.
In reaching your goals, is there anything that you can do right away? What, specifically? What
can you realistically have accomplished one week from today? What can you do within the
next month to implement or reach your goals? Goals can help you guide you where you want
to be, when you want to be there.
Career goal setting is not as intimidating if it is broken down into smaller chunks containing
short-term, intermediate, and long-term objectives.
Here are seven tips to help you set reasonable goals and to begin to achieve them.
1. Be specific and concrete. The more specific you get, the easier it is to meet your goals.
Plan small steps and specify what you will do within each of the four career development
quadrants (Self-discovery, Investigation, Decision-making, and Implementation), and
when you will take each step.
Examples of specific goals include getting your resume critiqued by a career advisor by the
end of the week.
2. Visualize. Close your eyes and picture yourself taking action to meet them. Live with your
goal. Does it feel right?
3. Put goals in writing. This brings reality into your goals and greatly increases your chance
of attaining them.
4. Build time frames into goals. Set deadlines for yourself and revise the deadlines freely.
They are not set in cement. Create steps in your time frames and write these steps into
your daily calendar or "to do" list.
5. Create a support system. Tell family, friends, and faculty of your goals, and ask for
6. Personalize your goals. What is the benefit of reaching this goal? Turn action items into
things you want to do for yourself.
7. Evaluate. Track your successes and stumbling blocks. Give yourself credit and positive
feedback. Recognize which goals you are not meeting and ask yourself why this is. Do your
plans still fit your personal career goals?
STEP 2: Develop for yourself at least one short term (1 week to3 months)
SMART goal, one medium term (3 to 6 month) SMART goal, and
one long term (1-5 years) SMART goal, type and submit
electronically, or print and hand in to your instructor.
Links For Goal Setting Resources
Sample goals: www.mygoals.com
Goal setting tips: www.mygoals.com/helpGoalsettingTips.html
20-minute goal setting tutorial: www.about-goal-setting.com
STEP 3: Financial Fitness:
Develop for yourself at least one short term (1 week to3 months)
SMART financial goal, one medium term (3 to 6 month) SMART
financial goal, and one long term (1-5 years) SMART financial
goal, type and submit electronically, or print and hand in to your
STEP 1: Define what the acronym SMART means in your own words, type and
submit electronically, or print and hand in to your instructor.
STEP 2: Type your Smart goals and submit electronically, or print and hand in to
STEP 3: Type your Smart financial goals and submit electronically, or print and
hand in to your instructor.
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