Golden Rules of Goal Setting

Five Rules to Set up your 2022

January 2022

As we enter a new year, we thought we would share some considerations as to how best to set ourselves up for success.

Have you thought about what you want to be doing in five years’ time?

Are you clear about what your main objective at work is at the moment?

Do you know what you want to have achieved by the end of today?

If you want to succeed, you need to set goals. Without goals, you lack focus and direction.

Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life’s direction; it also provides you with a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding. Having a million euros in the bank is only proof of success if one of your goals is to amass financial wealth. If your goal is to practice acts of charity, then keeping the money for yourself is contrary to how you define success.

To accomplish your goals,  you need to know how to set them. You can’t simply say, “I want” and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve and ends with hard work to achieve your Goal. During this process, there are well-defined steps that transcend the specifics of each goal. Knowing these steps will allow you to formulate goals that meet your values and that you will accomplish.

Here are five golden rules of goal setting:

  1. Set Goals that Motivate You

When you set goals for yourself, it is important that they motivate you: this means making sure that they are important to you, and that there is value in achieving them. If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture of your life, then the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are unlikely. Motivation is key to achieving goals.

Set goals that relate to the high priorities in your life and what is important to you. Without this type of focus, you will end up with too many goals that you are not committed to. Goal attainment requires commitment, so to maximize the likelihood of success, you need to feel a sense of urgency and have an “I must do this” attitude. When you don’t have this, you risk putting off what you need to do to make the goal a reality. This in turn leaves you feeling disappointed and frustrated with yourself, both of which are de-motivating. And you may end up in a destructive “I can’t do anything or be successful at anything” frame of mind.


To make sure your goal is motivating, write down for what reason it’s valuable and important to you. Ask yourself, “If I were to share my goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?” You can use this motivating value statement to help you if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to actually make the goal happen.

  1. Set SMART Goals

You have probably heard of “SMART goals” already. But do you always apply the rule? The simple fact is that for goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART. There are many variations of what SMART stands for, the essence is that – goals should be:

  • Specific.
  • Measurable.
  • Attainable.
  • Relevant.
  • Time-Bound.

Set Specific Goals

Your goal must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful because they don’t provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need goals to show you the way. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up and the required steps to get there.

Set Measurable Goals

Include specific amounts, dates, and so on in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. If your goal is simply defined as “To reduce your weight ” how will you know when you have been successful? In one month’s time if you have a 1kg reduction or in two years’ time when you have a 10kg reduction? Without a way to measure your success, you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you have actually achieved your goal.

Set Attainable Goals

Make sure that it’s possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will demoralize yourself and erode your confidence.

However, resist the urge to set goals that are too easy. Accomplishing a goal that you didn’t have to work hard for will be anticlimactic at best, and may also make you fear setting future goals that carry a risk of non-achievement. By setting realistic yet challenging goals, you hit the balance you need. These are the types of goals that require you to “raise the bar” and they will bring the greatest personal satisfaction.

Set Relevant Goals

Goals must be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. By keeping goals aligned with this, you will develop the focus you need to get ahead and do what you want. Set incongruent and inconsistent goals will not serve you to take your life in the direction you desire.

Set Time-Bound Goals

Your goals must have a deadline. Again, this means that you know when you can celebrate success. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and achievement will come that much quicker.

  1. Set Goals in Writing

The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. You have no excuse for forgetting about it. As you write, use the word “will” instead of “would like to” or “might.” For example, “I will reduce my weight by 5kg’s 5kgs’” not “I would like to reduce my weight by 5kg’s.

The first goal statement has power and you can “see” yourself reducing your weight, the second lacks passion and gives you an excuse not to succeed.

Tip 1:

Frame your goal statement positively. If you want to improve your staff retention rates say, “I will hold on to all existing employees for the next quarter” rather than “I will reduce employee turnover.” The first one is motivating; the second one still has a get-out clause “allowing” you to succeed even if some employees leave.

Tip 2:

If you use a To-Do List, make yourself a To-Do List template that has your goals at the top of it. If you use an Action Programme, then your goals must be at the top of this.

Post your goals in visible places to remind yourself every day of what it is you intend to do. Put them on your walls, desk, computer monitor, bathroom mirror or refrigerator as a constant reminder.

  1. Make an Action Plan

This step is often missed in the process of goal setting. You get so focused on the outcome that you forget to plan all of the steps that are needed along the way. By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you’ll realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal. This is especially important if your goal is big and demanding, or long-term.

  1. Stick With It!

Remember, goal setting is an ongoing journey not just a means to an end. Build-in reminders to keep yourself on track, and make regular time-slots available to review your goals. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, the action plan you set for yourself along the way may change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.

Goal setting is much more than simply saying you want something to happen. Unless you clearly define exactly what you want and understand why you want it in the first place, your odds of success are considerably reduced. By following the Five Golden Rules of Goal Setting you can set goals with confidence and enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with knowing you achieved what you set out to do.

So, what will you decide to accomplish today?

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