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Goal Setting 101

Updated: Apr 11, 2021

Learn popular techniques for setting and reaching your goals.

Two girls doing meditation at home

I recently read a post on Instagram that said: “I started 2020 thinking about everything I wanted and ended up being grateful for everything I had”. I kept thinking about all the goals and expectations that come with the new year, and the inevitable curveballs that keep us from reaching them (We’re looking at you 2020!)

This article explores the question of how we make goals. Could it be that we’re not very good at setting realistic goals or planning concrete steps of action? Is there a way to be more effective in achieving our personal and professional goals?

This 2021 made me think about the need to put my ideas in order, to establish my life plan and try to recognize opportunity when I see it. I started with some research on goal setting. . I discovered a set of more strategic techniques to set goals and develop a better action plan to execute them.

Curious? Here’s the three I found most interesting, that I’m most likely to try in my own life over the course of this year. The acronyms of each are composed by the characteristics that these objectives must have and invite us to reflect deeper on our goals.

The SMART Method

The acronym means: Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. This methodology basically seeks to build intelligent objectives that bring results closer together and facilitate efforts to measure performance1

The GROW Method

The other method is called GROW and represents: Goal, Reality, Options, Will/What comes next)2 It invites us to analyse our context, to evaluate where we are starting from in order to verify if our goal is feasible, affirming that desire and commitment are fundamental to achieve our goals.

The PURE Method

A simple way to assimilate the model is to compare it to planning a trip. First, we decide where we are going (the goal) and establish where we are now (our current reality). After exploring various routes (the options), we are ready to commit to starting the journey, ready for the obstacles that may arise.

The last one I found is a technique that focuses on more philosophical aspects for the definition of objectives: the acronym is PURE and is conformed by Positively stated, Understood, Relevant and Ethical.

Now, with these few ideas in your mind, I invite you to:

  • Be honest with what you truly want

  • Write your goals down

  • Set a time to achieve them

  • Create an action plan

  • Commit yourself

  • Be proud of every little success

It's a design principle coined by Kelly Johnson to remind us that simplicity works best and that we should avoid complexity.


1 George Doran first used the S.M.A.R.T. acronym in the November 1981 issue of the Management Review.

2 Has been developed and popularized by John Whitmore, a racing car champion and leading coaching practitioner in the United Kingdom.


Take a look at this article:

The Ultimate Guide To Goal Setting: Step-by-Step

and a few books:

Krogerus, M. & Tschappeler, R. (2017). The Decision Book. (J. Piening, Trans). New York: W.W. Norton. (Original work published 2012).

S.M.A.R.T. Goals Made Simple - 10 Steps to Master Your Personal and Career Goals (Productive Habits) S.J. Scott

There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management's goals and objectives in Management Review by Doran, George T.

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