Developing goal systems

Setting and attaining goals can drive personal and professional growth, empowering us to become more confident, resilient and self-determined.

Some people, however, are more effective at setting and attaining goals.

A number of factors impact our ability to set and attain goals: time, competing priorities, the availability of resources, and motivation, among other things. But perhaps the greatest challenge is our ability to set goals that align, so that we can build goal systems.

Each goal we set should be structured in a way that promotes its attainment, but we often aspire to achieve more than one goal at any one time. When this happens, we need to ensure each goal contributes to the attainment of already existing, or concurrent goals. By developing synergies between and across goals, we enhance the prospect of goal attainment, both individually and collectively.

Let’s take an example: a goal to improve fitness and a second, concurrent, goal to increase family time. It is easy to imagine that pursuing each of these goals independently could result in failure to achieve one, or both of the goals. Spending time improving fitness could impact on the time available to spend with family. These two goals do not, however, need to be mutually exclusive.

Planning to achieve each goal by connecting them through strategic planning will promote their collective attainment. We could organise regular, active, family leisure time. Or involve family in a physical challenge, like competing as a team in a fun run. Another strategy may be to plan for an active family holiday that requires preparation and training.

Although this example may seem simplistic, it illustrates the value of strategically aligning goals to create complementary goal systems.

Nonetheless, on occasions, it may be challenging to establish authentic synergies between and across concurrent goals. Where this is the case, we may need to consider prioritising goals. As a rule of thumb:

  • The number of goals set should require no more than the resources available to achieve them

  • More inspiring goals should be prioritised over less inspiring goals

  • Higher value goals should be prioritised over goals of lesser value

  • More achievable goals should be prioritised over less achievable goals.

How can you implement a goal system in your life?