How Successful Leaders Set Goals


While one chooses a goal, a purpose is largely discovered. A well defined, actualized goal moves us from a dream to the starting line of fulfillment. The article below as a pretty good plan easily applicable.

The following is a brief overview of the importance of goal setting, and the questions that you should answer to put your life in a new focus.

Goal Basics

John Norcross is a researcher that has been studying goals and change for many years, and defines a goal as “a mental representation of a desired outcome that a person is committed to”. In regular language, a goal is a) identifying something that you want and b) are willing to stick with a course of action to achieve. This is different from a “value, ” because a value is something we find important, but does not have a specific course that we are committed to. For example, you can value being healthy and make some choices that are in line with that, but a goal related to health would be to “lose 10 pounds by December 31st.”

Related articles

Psychologists have been excited about goals since the beginning of the profession. Research shows that actually setting a specific goal makes us more likely to achieve the things we want, and is important especially when we want to make a change. The best news is that setting and striving for a goal, even if you don’t make it, will make you happier (read more on Increasing Happiness).

Goal Setting

Research shows that most people usually set goals for self-improvement (changing bad habits, being healthier, etc), improving relationships, and to achieve something in the bigger picture of life. For the rest of this article, I encourage you to move through the following questions to dial in a goal for yourself.

Before we go any further, take a few moments and think deeply about your life. In the big picture, what do you hope to experience and accomplish? In what ways do you want to improve your mental and physical health? What bad habits do you want to change? What relationships patterns do you want to improve? What skills do you want to learn? What other things have you been thinking about changing?

Once you have a few things in mind, pick one that you are either the most motivated for, you are the closest to reaching, or that really needs to happen. Use the questions below to fine tune whatever came to mind. It may help to take out a pen and paper for the rest of this post.


First, write what came to mind for you. Don’t worry about the format at this point, just go with whatever came to you.

Now for this step, take what you wrote above, and make sure it is realistic, achievable, and about you. If it isn’t, rewrite it here in a way that it is.

Now take the statement above and make sure it is worded positively. Meaning, it should be something you want more of or are striving toward, rather than something you want less of or are trying to remove from your life. For example, instead of wanting to be less anxious, you could say that you want to be more relaxed. Instead of watching less TV, you could spend more time outside.

Next, think about how you can make the statement above as specific as possible. Use detailed language and avoid generalities or things that are really difficult to define. For example, general interests like wanting to be “happier” or “a better person” are noble things to strive for, but really challenging to define. If you have something larger like that, try identifying specific behaviors you will do more of. It can help to use specific numbers too. (What you write here is your official goal statement).

Read more via How to Set Goals | Psychology Today.


Jim Woods is president of The Jim Woods Group. A management consulting firm. Go here to see his work He advises and speaks to organizations large and small on how to increase top line growth in times of uncertainty and complexity. Some of his speaking and consulting clients include: U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M. See more at his website

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Posted in Success and Abundance
One comment on “How Successful Leaders Set Goals
  1. […] How Successful Leaders Set Goals ( […]


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