S1.17 - Goal Setting

A goal is something a person wants to accomplish or attain. A goal sets a direction or targets a desired destination. A goal is simply an end towards which efforts are directed (Davies, 1981). Some people know exactly where they want to end up but are unable to plot a course to get there. Others have trouble identifying the destination, gauging progress, or getting starting. This career support provides suggestions to help set and achieve goals.

Step 1: Identify the goal

The first step in setting a goal is to identify the goal or target. Sometimes identifying a goal or destination can be very difficult. Persons may think they know where they want to go but discover that it is not the place they want to be. A goal may change over time or become irrelevant. However, identifying a goal will help clarify options for the future. The destination may be easier to see.

Consider the following questions when helping a person identify a goal or goal area:

These questions might apply to areas of life beyond a job and career, including social activities, recreational activities, home projects and maintenance, and continuing education activities.

Step 2: Write the goal down

Putting a goal on paper 1) Makes it tangible and real, 2) Ensures that it is not forgotten or remembered incorrectly, 3) Provides a record that can be reviewed and evaluated over time.

Goals can be displayed at home or work to act as a reminder and to encourage peers and friends to become more active natural supports.

Step 3: Is the goal specific and measurable?

Tracking progress or lack of progress is easier when the goal is measurable. Goals should be written so that others can look at them and say, “Yes! The goal was met.” Goals should be defined in terms of observable or measurable outcomes. Encourage the use of specific measures (e.g., height, weight, dollars, inches, or hours) so that it will be easy to determine when the goal was met.

Step 4: Objectives and tasks to achieve a goal

Objectives are actions or steps needed to achieve a goal. Objectives can be used as a measure of progress. They provide milestones for reaching a goal. The process of laying out objectives may also be helpful in evaluating the appropriateness of a goal. If there are too many objectives, maybe the goal is too complex and needs to be broken into several smaller goals. A well-defined goal will have clear objectives that are easily measurable.

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Page updated 10/12/06

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