You’re ready to start setting goals. But where do you even begin? Perhaps the goal setting approaches you’ve used in the past haven’t worked. Or maybe you’re ready to create an action plan you’ll actually stick to. If you’re ready to set goals for your life and leadership, this is for you.

practical approaches to goal setting

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In this episode, Holly and I build on our goal setting framework that we’ve outlined in our Goal Setting Series. Here are the 4 steps we’re going through in this series:

  1. Reflecting
  2. Casting a vision + dreaming
  3. Setting goals
  4. Implementing the goals you set

We talk about what to do after you’ve reflected, dreamed, and set a vision. This episode is all about the principles behind setting goals and three approaches that will help you create a year of impact.

Getting Started with Goal Setting

  • There’s a difference between goals and objectives or tactics. A goal is the big thing you’re wanting to accomplish, and the objectives or tactics are what you need to do to reach the goal. Remember that you need to break down your goal into these smaller, more doable tasks.
  • Remember that there are different types of goals such as project goals and habit-based goals. Know which type is easy for you and which type is harder.

Principles of Goal Setting

  1. Know your why. If you don’t, it will be easy to throw in the towel when reaching the goal gets hard.
  2. Your goals should line up  with your reality. Be honest about how much time, energy, and effort you can invest in your goals.
  3. Prioritize your goals. To do this, go back to your vision for the year and your values.

Three Practical Approaches to Goal Setting

While there are many ways to set goals, these are three approaches that Holly and I have experience and success with.

1. SMART Goal Approach – This acronym helps you wisely set goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound

2. Cut Your Goals in Half Approach – This approach advocated by Jon Acuff in his book Finish is as simple as it sounds. Start with what you’d like to achieve and then cut your goal in half so you build momentum and always feel encouraged.

3. The 12-Week Year Approach – This approach guides you into how to set goals for the next 90 days and breaks the year into four 12-week sections. Moran and Lennington give these guidelines for setting 90-day goals:

  • Keep your goals measurable and specific.
  • State your goals positively, i.e. “I plan to drink eight glasses of water a day” vs “I won’t drink sodas anymore.”
  • Ensure your goals are a realistic stretch. You can do this by setting three levels of goals: good (the minimum you’d like to achieve), better (what would be cool to accomplish), and best (your wildest dream).
  • Assign accountability for team goals.
  • Be time bound.

Holly’s had success using this method while using Trello.

We hope that this discussion about the various approaches to goal setting will help you determine what will work best for you. You might find that you need to cut your goals in half. Or perhaps you need to make sure your goals are specific instead of general. Maybe you want to try the 12-week approach and create focused action during that time.

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