Goal setting is ubiquitous these days. It seems everyone is trying to get fitter, richer or smarter. Society is always pushing us to think about the next milestone. But what is goal setting and how should you go about it?

What Is Goal Setting?

In a nutshell, goal setting is defined as the act of selecting a target or objective you wish to achieve. Sounds easy enough, but let’s dig a little deeper. 

Is it worth setting goals? One hundred percent, yes. Goals give you focus and direction. Goals provide a benchmark for determining whether you’re succeeding. Most importantly, goal setting helps you to determine what you want in life.  

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Setting Achievable Goals

The most common way to set goals is by using SMART. Widely used in business, SMART is an acronym that will help you get clear on what you want to achieve. Created by planning director George T. Doran in 1981. SMART stands for:

Specific – Target a specific area for improvement.
Measurable –
How you will measure progress.
Attainable –
Set a goal that is achievable
Relevant –
Is the goal relevant to your overall direction.
Time-bound –
When will the goal be achieved by.

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A goal should be clear and specific. When drafting your goal ask yourself the five “W” questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is the goal important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it located?
  • Which resources are involved or limited?

This should help you get clear on what you want to achieve.


A great way to stay motivated is to see evidence of progress. Making a goal measurable, helps you meet deadlines. It also gives you a feeling of excitement that you’re getting closer to achieving your goal. Plus it ensures you’re turning up. Here are a couple of ways to measure goals:

Give them a try and see which one works for you.


Instead of asking yourself “What do I want to achieve?” best-selling author, Mark Manson says we should frame it this way “What pain do I want to sustain?” In other words are you happy to live the life of the goal you set yourself?

For example. You might set your sights on becoming a professional athlete. Are you willing to get up every morning at 6 am to train in all weathers? Miss parties and fun stuff with friends to perfect your craft?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting for one second that you should lower your sights. Just be aware of the trade-offs.


Each goal should be consistent with the direction you want your life to take. Ensure your goal matters to you, and that it aligns with other relevant goals. If you have widely scattered and inconsistent goals, you won’t hit your overall target.

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Give your goal a deadline. It will increase the sense of urgency.  I always work better to a deadline

Learn More About Goal Setting

If you want to read more about goal setting, I’d highly recommend either of these books.

Finally, remember…

…you can do anything you want to be.

This article was written by Lisa McShane from Babblebird.

Want to discuss this with other young women in STEM? Why not join the Stemette Society to continue the conversation.

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