Clean up your goal setting approach

Clean up your goal setting approach

Becoming an explorer in space requires endless goal setting and a positive attitude

Becoming an explorer in space requires endless goal setting and a positive attitude

Everyday people across the world are creating new goals and giving up on old ones. A year has seasons and those seasons can be felt to a lesser or greater degree depending where in the world you are.

The same can be said in how the same person embraces goal setting and focus.

In the early years, people may concentrate on learning and exploring, later high ambition and drive is found to pursue a career and academic achievement.

Eventually the season of nest building occurs and the focus moves to retaining a secure career whilst focusing on family. As the years pass then people can feel that time is running out and so make a new career change or simply pursue a safe choice and remain where they are.

Did you recognize anyone in my description above? Who do you know would fit these behaviors? You see, many of these phases are predictable changes in goal management driven by a personal prioritization and circumstance.

Here I will share some rapid ideas on how to apply certain parts of your life to act as a trigger point for positive change.

Celebration Points:



Any social media stream will be full of #international_(fill in the event or cause) on a day to day basis as each movement seeks to celebrate and bring its cause to everyones attention.

You can use any date in your diary as a clear starting point. I find it helps people provide more medium term motivation if they select a date based on a personal memory or celebration.

From birthday, anniversary, religious holiday or the most common one being of course the start of a new year.

Conditional Lists: 

You may have heard about bucket lists, and conditional lists are similar but with extra power. Conditional lists can be used as rewards or triggers based on actions and events.

An example would be, “I will take a ski holiday in Whistler, within two years after my children have moved out of the house”. The end goal is linked to a clear define condition. This is what makes them so powerful.

I use conditional lists very frequently even on a daily basis. For instance “I will check my Facebook feed after I have written this article”.

Extra personal goal setting tips:

Have you noticed people that start out to get fit, concentrate on a specific sport, get injured and then use that as an excuse to stop working on their health? To avoid this from happening to you, you need to remind yourself of the end goal and be flexible with the methods.

Even someone who has broken their leg can still exercise and retain some muscle tone and condition.

Great goals are about building a legacy that is beyond the actual task.
— James Doyle - JAMSO
Design legacy

Design legacy

It is even better if you can turn that legacy into some form of help to others.

This does not mean you have to be the best at something to help others, just simply be better than them and share your skills and knowledge.

This helps improve your motivation, keeps your knowledge and skills up to date and offers potential to improve your social circle. 

Break the comfort zone

Seek goals that are uncomfortable and difficult. It is perfectly OK to set unrealistic goals if they are many years ahead or if you have a pattern to “over achieve” in life.


Record and List your goals

Having a written record of your goals is a simple but powerful stimulus for action and a reminder of what you are pursuing. The use of vision boards can help cement the visualization of your goal success and affirmations can be great daily behavior reminders.

From the written goals, ensure daily action is taken so progress is monitored and progress made towards completion.

Communicate your priorities

Explain your priorities

Explain your priorities

A common hurdle for many people in pursuit of their personal goals is dealing with distractions.

The distractions can come from work, family, friends and indeed from within themselves through lack of discipline.


If you communicate your priorities to your network, people will start to support and respect your choices more. They learn to adapt and become more considerate to your stated needs. In the cases where conflict is found, you then are faced to make a tough decision if to concede your goal or damage the relationship.

Breaking relationships does not have to be a bad decision but a necessary decision if the goal you pursue means enough to you.


The popularity of wearable fitness devices demonstrates how accountability works well. Many of the associated apps like language learning or fitness, will send you a reminder of your commitment and promise to perform a task or exercise.

You can ask others to hold you accountable (Contact JAMSO directly for more information about our Accountability program).

The Clear Next Step

I learnt from Nigel Risner the phrase of making “The Clear Next Step CNS”. It is surprising how often I have needed to use this phrase when dealing with high levels of management. It triggers the connection between the idea and actual positive action. There is nothing more rewarding that seeing people and companies take clear action on their goals every day.

You may already be doing some of these areas I have clarified today, however you need to ask yourself if you do them consistently and consider each of the areas. I find frequently that even high achievers still have an opportunity to improve and be better. So, adopting a systemic review not only of your goals but how you approach them will bring fantastic value and positive improvements.

  • Written by James Doyle, founder of JAMSO, success consultant and trainer. We have over 100 free articles, tools and resources for your success, including a great newsletter, subscribe now.
James Doyle

James Doyle

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JAMSO helps people and business improve performance. Our clients engage with us in areas from metrics, key performance indicators and analytics to strategy. We help connect the dots from vision and values through smarter goal setting techniques to deliver unique solutions that raise performance for the short and long term benefits. We offer consultancy and training across the world for short term or long term projects, workshops and challenges.