Goal-setting – where do I start?

I often work with groups or individuals on goal-setting. It may be as part of the annual appraisal (yes, there’s a Zoomly bite-sized workshop for that), 1:1 conversations about development and progress, or a coaching conversation.

Within the work context, I think it’s a bit simpler to set goals, because when it’s done right, there is an organisational goal which the team and individual goals support and serve. That way everyone’s effort is aligned with where the organisation wants to be. But where it can get a little tougher is when people are setting goals for their own life, their personal development, if only to give them some sense of purpose, an idea where they would like to be heading.

And that’s often when I hear, “Where do I start?”

A very good place to start is to simply address the question: “What do you want?” Yes really. What DO you want? OK, some people can get a bit flippant and trot out supercilious answers (“Oh, well, you know, world peace, an end to poverty, a cure for cancer…”). Pity, as these are laudable things to want, but the response may also suggest a sense of helplessness and lack of purpose. That which is wanted is much bigger than the individual and is therefore perceived to be a pipe dream.

Have courage and state what it is you want in your life. Not shoes and handbags, but The Big Stuff. How do you want to live? Where do you want to live? Who do you want to spend time with? To what do you want to make a contribution?

Too often I see goals and objectives where the word ‘should’ is scrawled all over them in not-very-invisible ink. That’s a pity. When we get really clear about what we want in our lives, we set a direction that removes all the ‘shoulding’, because we want and choose to make the journey from where we currently are to where we want to be. When we really want that goal, we are persistent in the face of setbacks, genuinely pleased with every step we take to progress, and powerful beyond measure.


If you want to set – and get – your goals in 2022, grab your copy of my complimentary self-coaching guide below. With no-nonsense prompts to aid your thinking, it will help you set strong goals and plan the steps towards achieving them.


You may also find this post useful: ‘5 falsehoods we tell ourselves that stop us reaching our goals’

Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ and ‘How to be Zoomly at work’.

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