Goal Setting 101: Planning with Purpose

Goal setting 101

At some point in almost all of our lives, someone talks to us about goal setting.  Most often, it is a way for parents, teachers, coaches, employers to have us formulate a plan for the future.  A goal acts as a written statement showing what we are working towards.  In the fitness world, these are often centered around weight loss or reaching Personal Bests for specific lifts.  When we look at it in terms of Personal Development the scope is so much bigger than that. We can set goals for work, school, a program we are running, where we see ourselves going in our career.  Or on a smaller scale, setting short term goals for completing assignments and projects (or parts of them).

Goal Setting Glossary

Goal: The object of a person’s desire or ambition; an aim or a desired result

Action Steps: The steps you have recognized as being necessary to achieve your goal.  Action steps should include any resources required for that step. These steps are formulated into an action plan which is like a timeline to reach your chosen goal, laid out based on your time available and the resources you have.

SMART Goals: 

Specific: Laying out the who, when, where, what, why of your goal.  The more detail the better.

Measurable: How can you assess your progress?  What are the parameters of your goal?

Attainable: Can it be done with the resources you have?

Realistic: Is it possible to complete your goal in the time given and the resources available?

Timely/Time Based: Set it to be completed within a time frame, by the end of January, by the end of the year etc. Give yourself a deadline.

Long Term Goals: Goals for the future; something that takes months, or even years; require more extensive planning and time.  

Short Term Goals: Goals to be accomplished soon; something to be completed today, this week, this month or even this year.

Goals can help us accomplish many things in all areas of our lives.  We can set goals for almost anything.  By setting SMART goals we increase our chance of having success.


Here is a quick goal setting activity you can do.  You can complete this for any goal you have, make your goal a SMART goal first and then work through this action plan.  This one is set up to be used once a month, working on a goal that is set over 12 weeks but you can adjust it as needed.       Click here for worksheet: smartgoalsettingactivity


Goal Mapping

Now that you have guidelines for setting goals, you can get started! A great activity to complete once a year is Goal Mapping (This activity is inspired by an exercise from Passion Planners). It helps focus on the bigger picture and see where your goals are going short term and long term. Many job interviews will ask “where do see yourself in 5 years, 10 years?” or “What are your career goals?” If you cannot answer these questions then how are you going to be too able to grow personally or professionally? Employers are typically not looking for stagnant, unmotivated individuals. Comfort breeds complacency.

When completing your goal map you only need a writing utensil, 10 minutes, and a goal map (found in resources section!). The timeline for goals includes lifetime, 3 years, 1 year, and 3 months. While working with students, there tends to be some push back with creating long-term goals. Many people are not able to look past the end of this week let alone to 3 years from now. That is the problem. If you do not know what you want to see, eat, do, accomplish, etc. in the next year, 3 years, or in your lifetime; what are you working toward? Do you have a purpose or are you mindlessly living and working? Are you working to live or living to work? This exercise will help you find some direction and intention.

Print the Goal Map and follow these steps and you are on your way to living an intentional future.

  1. Create a list of anything and everything for 5-8 minutes. Ask yourself “If I could do anything, be anything, or have whatever I wanted, what would it be?” Be honest and nonjudgmental. You are your harshest critic. Nothing is off the table and nothing is impossible. Write as much as you can for each timeline section.
  • Remember, “The Limit Does Not Exist!”
  1.  Know your priorities: Go back and circle your top priority from each timeline section. This is the place to remember the difference between should and must. We have been told since birth what we should do. It is time to listen to what you must do. Which of these are your priorities? Are these your passions, interests, and hopes? Did someone else’s priorities sneak in?
  2. Create your first Goal Catalyst. Select the priority (catalyst) that will be the most positive impact on your life right now. Fill in the catalyst map with as many steps as you need to activate that catalyst. Once this is complete fill in the following details;
  • Figure out how much time is needed to complete them
  • Assign an order of importance to create a plan
  •  Assign an end date. Make dates throughout your planner to achieve these goals

If you are looking at your goals and need more direction or justification, check out the “Intentional Living: Goal Setting Worksheet” from Hello Nature Blog! We love this exercise. You are able to state your goal, write five steps to create an action plan, and then write the reason for the goal.

You’ve got goals. Now what? Let’s make a vision board! Pinterest or google images are a great place to find pictures of places you want to visit, inspirational quotes, made a role model that you are appraising to be? This board can be digital or print and should be somewhere you will see it at least once a day.


By: Caitlin & Richelle

Work Sheets







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