• Emma Jones

Set Yourself up for Success : Tips & Tricks for Goal Setting (part I)

Updated: Sep 13, 2019

Everyone comes to coaching with a goal. Whether it is to regain balance in their lives, quit smoking, increase their confidence, transition to a new career... no matter the goal, the foundation of coaching is to gain the support you need in order to get from where you are now to where you want to be.

Regardless of the size of the goal or how much time it will take to accomplish, there is a framework that you can follow to make sure you are always setting yourself up for success.


You have probably heard about SMART goals (for those who haven’t, it stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound). In the project management world, this acronym rules the roost, and there is a reason why - if you do not know what exactly you are trying to achieve, when you want to accomplish it by, or are aiming for something that will take nothing short of a miracle to accomplish, there is no wonder success feels like a struggle!

By ensuring your goals are “SMART”, you are laying a solid foundation towards achievement.

Let’s look at an example: I am going to start spending more time on hobbies

Is it specific? Not really - what hobbies do I want to be spending my time on? How much more time would I like to allot to these hobbies?

Without being specific, how can I know when I have accomplished my goal? So, how can we improve this statement? - I will spend an hour a day playing piano

Adding in “an hour a day” also makes my goal measurable. I now have a way of measuring what “more” means to me in this context.

Whether a goal is “achievable” is extremely subjective and this will rely on you and your judgement to determine. In this scenario, maybe I will cut out an hour of watching Netflix in order to free up time for my hobby or move my workout to lunch instead of waiting till after work to gain back an hour in my day. If my goal was to play piano for 4 hours a day, I would say that isn’t achievable (or realistic) which brings us to our next goal check.

If a goal is unrealistic, how can you ever expect to reach it? I’m not even sure I need to say more on this point. Now, some things seem impossible (humans in space?) but if you can support your goal with logic, there is nothing stopping you from aiming high and being ambitious.

Our final goal check is the one I see being skipped all the time; creating a goal to be “time-bound” means setting a deadline for your goal, when are you going to achieve this by? I can say I want to play piano for an hour a day but if I don’t set a time for when I want to achieve this by, there is nothing keeping me accountable to taking focused actions towards achieving my goal. (Sign up below for updates on an upcoming post on accountability)

So how can we improve this statement? - Starting next month I will spend an hour a day playing piano

Now that we have gotten to the end of our SMART checklist, review the goal one final time to make sure it still holds up (for example, you may have set an unrealistic time constraint without even realizing!)

My final goal statement, which passes all the checks are: Starting next month I will play piano for an hour a day.

It's that easy! But wait, there’s more, click here for part II of Setting Yourself up for Success : Tips & Tricks for Goal Setting where you will also find a downloadable Fail-Proof Goal Setting Guidelines worksheet

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