The Art of WISE Goal Setting

The Art of WISE Goal Setting

The King of goals within rock n roll

The King of goals within rock n roll

Do you know someone that is full of energy, motivation and yet seem to achieve the same as everyone else?

Although it is great to have such positive people within a team, it is important to understand how they move their motivation into action.

Goal setting has positive benefits to deliver controlled and targeted results.


The popular SMART goal system evolved into the SMARTER goal setting system (see here for our explanation of SMARTER). Yet these methods restrict outcomes. They work well in a business context where strict controls and expectations operate within a tight operational frame. They lack the scope to be bigger and adventurous. 

If you commit to a goal then the time, energy and effort required to complete it will be significant. It makes sense to create large goals so your end results justify the input levels. To do these seek to make a significant impact and positive contribution for the long term. 

To create and experience change, there are often unintended outcomes and side effects. A health regime may experience prolonged injury (note from the author: I am struggling with Achilles tendon issues one year after a running injury, this was an unintended consequence of my health goal). 

An effective network is better than a wide crowd of noise

An effective network is better than a wide crowd of noise

The way that you communicate to your network of friends, family and fellow workers matters.

You can create accountability partners, support and awareness of priorities for your goals using open communication. 

When working on goals it can become addictive and destructive. The clear focus on a goal may mean you miss other opportunities and lock into a specific direction. Have the sense of awareness and open mindedness to remain aware of other alternatives. These options may help you achieve your goal faster or change the goal. This requires discipline not to become distracted on every new opportunity.

Be as wise as the owl

Be as wise as the owl

Even with SMARTER goals there is the need to support them with a broader vision. For this you can consider the WISE model. 

The WISE system is a broader goal and supportive to the more specific SMARTER process. The SMART or SMARTER goals address specific action and measured areas as where WISE provides reflection and a broader purpose.


The power of WISE goal setting explained

The power of WISE goal setting explained

W Willpower, Written and Worthy

I Integrated, Initiative and inspiring

S Stamina, Synergistic and stretched

E Enthusiastic, Expansive and energizing


Willpower, Written and  Worthy

To embark on a goal will require strong willpower. This is needed not just from the participants but also the surrounding support system and touch points. This can be shown through respecting priorities and creating empowered teams time to work on their goals when other work is identified. The willpower can be supported through the action of having written goals. It provides the framework and object of the goal. The worthiness of your goal is critical to understand the return on investment from a cost, ethical and time based perspective.

Integrated, Initiative and Inspiring

Taking the strategic initiative

Taking the strategic initiative

Holistic does not start with an “I” so we use integrated! The goals you set can be central to the whole team and the amended specifically for person to person and department to department.

Using initiative along the journey of goal completion is important to continued success. There will be times when special circumstances arise that require fast decision making and creativity; this should be an encouraged and permitted part of the process.

If you want to kill a goal straight away then make it uninspiring. The need to capture the imagination and offer true hope and willingness through inspiration is a vital ingredient.

Synergistic, Stamina and Stretched 

Stamina in the race of life

Stamina in the race of life

The definition of synergy is that the sum is greater than the number of individual parts.

Within the context of goal setting this points to the benefits of team work, ongoing learning and experience plus the compound effect of many incremental improvements.

The focus of your goals should be always linked to a wider and longer term vision and mission. These are the elements to help provide sufficient motivation for goal setting completion. The use of stamina is an important shared part of goal setting. This is to manage the risks of burnout and to acknowledge the need to develop improved cadence of productivity and momentum over time.

Stretched goals are important to ensure growth and high performance can be maximized from the efforts placed into working the goal.

Enthusiastic, Expansive and Energizing

The motivation of oneself and each team member working on a shared goal is important to its successful completion.

Creating an enthusiastic team environment remains a priority for the full length of the goal process. Some goals may take years to complete, so care and recognition to mood swings and external affects is important when managing goals in teams.  

The task of your goal is to identify which areas you are been stretched and how this creates a significant expansive impact to your business or life.

The aim of your goals is not to just tick them off in boxes but rather grow and develop performance to greatness and significant improvement.

Create goals that provide continued stimulus for all the participants. This energizing method lifts the continued motivation and desired speedy completion of tasks.

Every career minded person and effective business has goals. Use the best combination and steps to ensure success.

When to apply WISE support for your goals.

I appreciate that you have probably seen enough acronyms in normal life and business. The introduction of WISE should be seen as a considerate guide.

The benefits you gain from WISE application are significant. You can see the below example case scenarios to see if you should consider the application of WISE to your goal setting systems;

1)          When goal setting performance becomes consistently under engaged by staff.

2)          Where senior management sets goals and changes priorities on a frequent basis.

3)          As a training aid and step to link long term business vision to task specific goals.

4)          For cross function and cross divisional project support.

5)          To help design gamification within performance management

6)          For companies that have a high staff churn rate.

7)          Part of a leadership change management culture development.

8)          Linking external supply companies to your and their goals.

9)          At companies with poor results performance.

10) When using benchmark information for goal setting expectations.

Today’s working environment is shifting rapidly with improved metrics, analytics and dashboards. This raises expectations and often the number of goals set to improve performance at a business.

The WISE systems helps as a partial guide through this process and so expect to see its applications continue to spread widely across the globe.

WISE a strategy for success

WISE a strategy for success

The most frequent application of WISE has been with fewer definitions than I have described within this article.

The most prevalent applications simply use only a single definition per letter in the acronym.

I have included three per letter to demonstrate the full scope and variety of options and considerations that should be made.

The art of WISE goal setting will take time and do not expect to get the balance correct the first time.

Further Reading and Reference

  • Written by James Doyle, founder of JAMSO. We have over 200 free articles, tools and resources for your success, including a great newsletter, subscribe now.

James Doyle - Founder of JAMSO

James Doyle - Founder of JAMSO

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