7 Steps For Creating A Successful Goal-Setting Process

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 13 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The ability to set goals for yourself can be one of the most impactful steps you take as a professional, giving you the opportunity to work towards something that provides you with a sense of accomplishment and pride. Knowing how to identify and set your goals is an important part of progressing in your career and personal life. If you are interested in learning how to develop your goals and make them attainable to achieve, it can be helpful to understand different components of the goal-setting process to help you find success.

In this article, we define what this process is, explain why setting goals for yourself is important, provide seven steps for developing your goals and offer an example you can reference when you start the goal-setting process on your own.

What Is A Goal-Setting Process?

A goal-setting process is a strategy professionals can use for identifying and achieving their goals. This process can make it easier for you to stick to your goals by outlining the specific steps necessary for meeting them. Setting small, specific tasks for yourself to accomplish can make working towards a larger goal a less intimidating process and provide you with encouragement as you gradually make your way towards that final milestone.

Related: How To Set And Achieve Long-Term Goals (With Examples)

Why Is It Important To Set Goals?

The ability to set goals for yourself can make a significant impact on your ability to improve your skills and progress in your career. By identifying goals, you have something specific to work towards, providing you with a sense of hope and determination to make it to that final milestone. For example, if you have a long-term goal of learning how to code, you may set smaller goals along the way where you learn different coding languages to determine which one you prefer while learning more about the programming process along the way.

Setting goals can also provide helpful insight for determining your strengths and weaknesses. Consider a scenario where a writer sets a goal to write 5,000 words per day within six months, increasing their word count by 1,000 words each month. While they work through their milestones, they notice that their time management skills are lacking, which is slowing down their progress. With this in mind, they set another goal for themself where they try to accomplish their daily writing quota before their afternoon break. Now, they have two attainable goals, with the achievement of one helping them accomplish the other.

Related: How To Answer the Interview Question: 'What Are Your Career Goals?' (With Examples)

How To Develop A Goal-Setting Process?

Follow these steps to develop this process:

1. Conduct a self-assessment

Before starting your process, take time to assess your interests, strengths and areas to improve. Think about where you would like to be in the next few years, both in your career and in your personal life. This helps you determine where your talents lie and what you would like to develop further. Evaluating your interests also helps you better understand what aspects of your personal and professional life make you passionate. This allows you to build goals that drive you towards a happier and more fulfilling life.

Related: How To Create A Career Goals Worksheet (With Template)

2. Write potential goals

Once you have identified your interests, strengths and weaknesses, move onto writing your potential goals. Dedicate a small segment of time in your day towards free-writing any aspirations you want to accomplish in the near or distant future. Create an extensive list and begin reviewing each one carefully to determine which goals are most important to you. After you identify which goals provide you with the most fulfilment, you can create a plan for achieving them.

3. Convert these objectives into SMART goals

Once you have determined which goals to set for yourself, you can convert them into SMART goals. This stands for smart, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound:

  • Specific: Identify the specific goal you want to achieve so you know exactly what end-result you are working towards. This gives you something specific to look forward to once you meet your goal.

  • Measurable: Goals are measurable when you can easily keep track of them numerically. You can make goals quantifiable by giving yourself a specific metric you want to generate over intervals of time.

  • Attainable: A goal is attainable when it is realistic. It is important to set goals for yourself that are within your means and that you can achieve within a reasonable amount of time.

  • Relevant: Relevance is another important component when creating your goals. Make sure every step of your process has a purpose that directly links it to the ultimate accomplishment you are trying to achieve.

  • Time-bound: Goals are time-bound when you assign yourself a specific timeframe to achieve them. For example, you may set a goal of running 16 km per day within a three-month deadline.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition And Examples

4. Build an action plan to meet these goals

Write your final goals down. This helps make them seem more real and allows you to more clearly visualise the goals you are working towards. Store them somewhere that you can regularly notice them to ensure you remember them. This can be a notification on your phone, sticky notes on your desk or reminders on your computer. Once you have written them down and placed them in a noticeable area, you can put plans into action to determine how you want to meet your goals.

5. Map out a timeline and set deadlines

If you have many goals you want to achieve, it can be easier to build a timeline and map out your goals accordingly. Planning out which goals you want to complete by certain deadlines helps you focus on one at a time, rather than overwhelming yourself with completing several goals all at once. It may be helpful to draw out a timeline and place the tasks and goals you would like to hit on certain dates.

Building a timeline and giving yourself specific dates to hit helps build a sense of urgency. This encourages and motivates you to complete certain tasks on time and keeps you on track to successfully reaching your goals.

Related: How To Include The Ability To Meet Deadlines On A Resume

6. Get started on your goals

Once you have all of your goals and tasks and their start and end dates mapped out, you can get started on working towards them. Follow each step you plan for yourself and try your best to stay on track. On days when you feel bombarded with work or personal events, push and motivate yourself to follow through with hitting your goals. It can be helpful to picture how fulfilled and accomplished you can feel in the long run once you have successfully hit all the goals you set for yourself.

7. Check in on your progress regularly

Since other life events can impede reaching goals, it is important to check in to make sure you are still on track. Try to measure your progress regularly. It may be beneficial to schedule a weekly check in to see how you are progressing. If you realise you may be struggling to meet your goals, you can readjust your timeline to better fit your schedule and needs.

Make sure to readjust them by a reasonable amount to ensure you are not pushing the dates back too far. If many life events are occurring that cause you to push timelines back or if you miss a few deadlines, try to stay positive and do not let this discourage you.

Related: 13 Steps To Be Successful In Life: Tips And Advice

Example Of This Process

Here is an example of this process that you can follow to set up reasonable goals for yourself:

Goal: I would improve my sales numbers by 20% by the end of the year by making more cold calls, connecting with more business professionals, improving my customer service skills and attending more industry events.
Actionable steps:
1. Make 30 cold calls a week.
2. Attend 3 industry events a week.
3. Give business cards to four business professionals a week.
Weekly check-in: Every Thursday at 1 p.m.

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