How to set goals you will actually see through this year

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When setting goals for the new year, the most important thing is to make them realistic, measurable and attainable.

Madeleine Wilson

Every January people set about their year with a sense of clarity after an indulgent and refreshing break and a yet-to-be cluttered inbox. Goals are made with enthusiasm and purpose, but by mid-February, that busy pace has crept up and well-intentioned ambitions are set aside in the midst of meetings, campaigns and the general busyness that comes with most full-time work. 

There are a few tools I have found throughout my career that have helped with intentional and measurable goal setting. Applying these at the beginning of the year can really help you to achieve success incrementally and over the year as a whole.    


As with any major project, creating a plan that includes deliverables such as a timeline, budget, key account people and exact objectives is integral to goals being met. By being specific, you will easily be able to measure and evaluate your goals at the end of the year. 

"Planning the method through which you will stay accountable and in touch with your goals throughout the year knowing there will be challenges and lapses in motivation is critical to its success. That gusto we all have when we sit down to create goals is going to dwindle at some point and if there’s no net to catch you it’s easy to genuinely forget what you were going after.” Pia Silva,

Check-ins and progress reports

It is fairly useless to set-and-forget when it comes to goals as they are usually created on an annual basis. Plus there are a lot of variables that arise throughout the year that may change the desired outcomes and propensity of the goal to be successful. Whilst creating realistic goals in the first place should be a priority, there will be times when situations outside your control will force you to revise your objectives.

Quarterly progress reports for each goal are a timely way to check in and see how you’re tracking. They may also be motivating if you’re veering off course from where you need to be.


Creating goals in a program such as Trakstar means you are not only documenting your goals but also sharing them with other people you trust. They will be able to support and coach you, and can evaluate and monitor how you’re progressing. It is also a really effective way for two-way feedback at the end-of-year performance appraisal so that both you and your manager can openly discuss your development and identify areas for growth in the future.

Review and improve

Professional development reports (PDR)s, such as those generated by Trakstar and similar employment programs, are often completed at the end of the year in a bit of a rush and once ticked-off aren’t given a second thought. Something that I have found really beneficial is to revisit the PDR report in January, look at where there have been areas for improvement and then make this part of the goal setting agenda. This will help you to future proof your continual growth and development and strive for greater things year-on-year.

A simple way to structure your PDR is to articulate a broader vision statement and then break everything out into four columns: 
  1. Where am I today: consider your current position or skill set.
  2. Where do I want to be: understand the end goal and clearly outline what success looks like.
  3. What do I need to do to get there: Outline the actions you’ll need to take to reach each goal such as research, enrolling in a course or finding a mentor.
  4. How much effort will this take: allocate resources (both time and budget) and think about the commitment you might need from others.
It can also help to write the first two columns as ‘from’ and ‘to’ statements, so you have a clear idea of what’s changing and an elevator pitch when you might decide to share your goals more widely. It may sound basic, but when it comes to goal-setting the simpler the better. 

Aim to achieve at least one ‘mini-goal’ a day

Psychologists have proven that when you break your goals down into smaller and achievable steps you will be more likely to stay committed and achieve the ultimate outcome. The general idea is that you keep focus and feel rewarded with clear signs of progress. This sense of achievement and momentum also builds your confidence, so you believe you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.   

It may seem quite insignificant in comparison to the more important and comprehensive goals you’ve set, but if you can tick off one task that has been hanging over your head and you’ve been avoiding because it seems too huge to tackle, my advice is to get it knocked off the to-do list.

Also, do the hardest task for the day first to get it out of the way and set the rest of your day up for success. If you can get rid of those tasks that are impeding your focus and creativity, then you will be much better placed to achieve both your short and long-term goals.

Madeleine Wilson, Director,

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