Goal Setting Theory

When I want to, I perform better than when I have to. I want to for me, I have to
for you. Self-motivation is a matter of choice. John Whitmore

Ever wondered what success stands for and how a goal is related to it? Have you ever asked yourself why you still failed to achieve a goal even though you put some time and effort into it? Want to find out how to set goals in a way that they are self-enhancing not self-defeating? Are you aware of your blocks that prevent you from achieving your goal and be successful? Let’s look into these questions and get a deeper understanding on how to set and smash goals like a pro.

SUCCESS stands for – See your goal, Understand the obstacle, Create a positive mental picture and attitude, Clear your mind of self-doubt, Embrace the challenge, Stay on track, Show the world you can do it.

Goals are internal representations of our desired states or outcomes. In most
cases, we struggle to achieve our goals not because of our efforts but because
how it is structured and framed. As a rule, goals that set you to fail are
unrealistically ambitious, unrealistically unambitious or not challenging enough.
Explicit, specific goals lead to a greater likelihood of success. Studies have found
that developing goals helps a person to enhance motivation and remain
focused on tasks or particular issues that need addressing both personal and/or
The development of goals is an important aspect of overall coaching, time & life
management and self-discipline. Being goal-less is likely to lead to a feeling of
under achievement and being adrift in this world. It is also recommended you
always aim for a goal which is inspirational to you, positively framed and
challenging – a real stretch to achieve the best you can.
Setting goals that are SMART gives you more focused, realistic plan to work
towards and achieve desired outcome. SMART framework can be used to define
short term and long term goals although it is useful to review long term goals
regularly too to ensure they are achieved. We will look at SMART framework in
more detail during Step One. SMART framework has proven to be one of the most
effective and heavily used goal-setting models. Once you master it, you will find it
much easier to develop and achieve your goals which will lead to great sense of
satisfaction and achievement.
There is one more thing to consider. As practice shows, when the goal is stated
positively, you more likely to resonate with it and internalise the things you want to
be able to do rather than the things you want to avoid. We can imagine more
easily how we can move towards something or what we want to do rather than
running away from or what we don’t want to do. See which goal appeals to you
more – ‘I want to stop being stressed’ or ‘I want to eat less junk food’ (negative
framing) vs ‘I would like to be calmer in stressful situations’ or ‘I would like to
develop healthy eating habits’ (positive framing).
If the goal is not realistic, there really is no hope of you achieving it, however if the
goal is not challenging, there will be no motivation. You have to find the right
balance here.

It is also advisable to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic goals. Unrealistic goals are self-defeating. This can happen when your skills, reality and other factors don’t match the challenge, sort of wishful thinking. Realistic goals on other hands are self-enhancing and set you to succeed. Unrealistic and self-defeating goals are likely to set you to fail and bring your self-esteem, confidence and self-efficacy (your belief in
the ability to succeed in a specific situation or task) down alongside with your
motivation which in turn reinforces any self-doubting beliefs that you may have
such as ‘I will never get it right’ or ‘I’m hopeless. What’s the point?!’. Let’s pause
for a moment and consider last time you set yourself an unrealistic goal that you
have failed to achieve. Reflect on it for a few minutes. What do you see, feel and
hear? What would you do differently now?
Reflecting on our experiences, whether good or bad, is a crucial part of our
learning as it allows us to look at the situation from a different perspective. During
the course of this workshop you will be asked to reflect critically on various topics
which would hopefully help you develop a deeper understanding of your goals
and bring you in touch with yourself.
Now that you know a bit more about goal setting theory, it’s time to put it into

5 Steps to Set & Achieve Goals

Here’s a brief summary of 5 Steps and you can find a full version if you follow this link – 5-Steps-to-Set-Achieve-Goals-Workshop

1. Develop a goal.

Time to develop a goal. Pause for a minute and ask yourself: What would I like to
achieve? What more do I want? What type of outcome am I looking for?
Imagine a miracle happens whilst you are asleep but you are not aware of it.
What would be different when you wake up the next morning? Write down your answer.

Use SMART framework (specific, measurable, attainable or achievable, realistic or relevant, time-bound) and frame a goal positively.

2. Review current situation and reality.

It is argued that you can’t move on to a planning stage until you review your reality. The reason why you need to do it is so you are objective, can develop a deeper awareness of the situation and highlight any distortions. Explore your reality and see how your goal fits within it. Ask yourself:

  • Exactly what is happening now?
  • In my mind’s eye, why this is a problem?
  • What steps have I done so far?
  • What are the pro’s and con’s of this?

3. Review available options, solutions and alternatives.

Time to brainstorm. Critically and objectively review available options, alternatives and come up with solutions. No idea is either too small or silly so throw it all in. Always remember, the quality of your output will depend on the quality and quantity of the input. You are your own best expert. Ask yourself:

  • What is the first step I can take to get me closer to my goal?
  • Do I have any ideas?
  • What has worked in the past?
  • What else can I do?

4. Wrap up.

What is the way forward? Now what? Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.  Now you have to wrap up and agree a way forward for you. With a list of possible solutions ready, all you need to do is to pick the most feasible ones and develop be a course of action with outlined timeline and any other specific details. The more specific the plan is the better. That means you don’t leave anything to chance. This is your goal and your plan, so own it like you mean it. Ask yourself:

  • What is to be done, how, when and by whom?
  • Who will / can I get support from?
  • Will this action plan meet my goal?
  • What resources and skills do I need to do that?

5. Review and reflect.

Time to debrief now and reflect back. Ask yourself the following questions straight after you have completed of this workshop:

  • How useful was this exercise to me?
  • How did I find it?
  • Specifically, what did I find most useful?
  • What’s my biggest learning? What was my biggest challenge?
  • What can I do differently next time to enhance learning?

Allow yourself some time to reflect on that.

It is highly recommended to reflect upon things half way through achieving your goals and upon its successful completion.


Now, let’s check how motivated are you to hit the ground running after you a have successfully completed 4 steps. Using RICs scale, ask yourself the following questions and rate them on the scale of 1-10, where 1 is low and 10 is high.

  1. How Ready am I right now to achieve my goal? My score.
  2. How Important it is to me to achieve your goal? My score.
  3. How Confident am I that I can achieve your goal? My score.
  4. Is there anything that can stop me from achieving my goal? If so, what is the solution?

In conclusion, I’d like to recap once again that SUCCESS stands for – See your goal, Understand the obstacle, Create a positive mental picture and attitude, Clear your mind of self-doubt, Embrace the challenge, Stay on track, Show the world you can do it!

Please do share your thoughts on that and goals. If you have any questions or would like to arrange a free initial session, please email me direct – anastasia@execsalescoaching.com

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