Mastering the Art of Goal Setting

Keeping Your Performance on Track

(Bev’s Notes from CD by Rebecca Carpenter)


 Goals are the Roadmap of where you want to go and how to get there.


  • Give us direction.
  • Provide something to work for.
  • Encourage drive.
  • Support structured actions.
  • Transform dreams into reality.



Broad: General intentions Narrow, precise
Where you want to be Steps you need  to get there
What you want to achieve  
Intangible Tangible
Abstract Concrete
Cannot be validated Can be validated

 Smart Goals

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time Constrained

 Goal Concepts

  • Set a strong foundation to make goals effective and pertinent.
    • Think about what is important to you, where you need to go.
    • Complement company, departmental goals.
    • State your goal in a positive phrase.
    • Include enough detail so that others can clearly understand.
    • Set your goal high enough to make it challenging.
    • Complement areas of your life.
    • Write down goals to make them more visible and concrete.
  • Link goals to overall business objectives.
    • Align with job responsibilities.
    • Create personal goals to fulfill your job responsibilities.
      • Focus on being a better employee.
      • Clearly communicate expectations.
      • Ensure job advancement, job security, success.
  • Obstacles to Setting Goals
    • Based on outcome, not performance
    • Not realistic
    • Set too low
    • Not specific enough
    • Not prioritized

 Process to Mapping out Your Goals: Using Steven Covey’s Four Quadrants

Sit down on a regular basis (once a month) and fill out four quadrants.

 Divide a sheet of paper into four squares. 

  • Draw a vertical line in the middle of the paper.
  • Draw a horizontal like across the middle of the paper.

Four Quadrants of Your Time

1.      Important and Urgent


 What goes into this quadrant:

  • Things that come up everyday.
  • Things that you have to handle in the moment, i.e., meetings, conference calls, computer problems.




2.      Most Important, Not Urgent

High Pay-Off Objectives

 What goes into this quadrant:

  • If I had more time professionally, this is what I would spend my time on.
  • Tasks that affect the bottom line and longevity of the company, things that give you the most passion, make you and your company healthier, happier and more successful, i.e., training, strategic planning, handling interruptions better, improving customer service.
3.    Not Important, But Urgent What goes into this quadrant:

  • Not important doesn’t mean that the task is not ultimately important for you.  You could handle it later.
  • In the mind of the person who needs your help, i.e., the supervisor standing in front of you or the student on the phone, you must drop everything and handle it in the moment; stop and help.
4.    Not Important, Not Urgent  What goes into this quadrant?

  • Things that you do on a regular basis, but you think to yourself, “Why am I even in this meeting.  I need to be at my desk.  This doesn’t concern me.”  “This person is an adult.  Why am I handling it?”



  • Entitle: Four Quadrants of Your time.
  • Number and label the quadrants in bold, as above.
  • Each square contains the tasks you perform on a daily basis.
  • Fill out each square according to the description.  Do not include the description.
    • #2 is most important and should be done first.
    • Follow that with  #1, #3, and #4.
  • Sit down on a regular basis and complete these quadrants.
    • Put your tasks in perspective.
    • Sit down with your supervisor
    • Sit down with your team.
    • Get into agreement about what your goals or your team’s goals ought to be.
    • Brainstorm, handle, manage, control, whatever it takes, so that you can be more regularly spending your time and energy on a leaner, smoother process to improve your daily work life and match business objectives.
    • Show your team how to set goals.  Find out where they are getting stuck.  Work with them to prioritize; review obstacles; set boundaries; build in down time; handle work-life more efficiently. (Many people use the same process to improve family goals.)

 Why Most People Never Reach Their Goals

  • Don’t consider goals believable / achievable.
  • Lack desire because they have not considered the benefits.


  • Motivated
  • Inspired
  • Proactive

Come up with goals that are specific and measurable.

  • Example of Goal: Everybody should be cross-trained to make the project go more smoothly. 
  • How do you make it specific and measureable?
    • Specific:  Determine how many people need to be cross-trained.
    • More Specific: List processes that they need to be trained on, i.e., Excel, Advanced Data Entry, Billing, Conflict Resolution
    • More Specific: Determine how many people need to be trained on each process.
    • Measureable: List the benefits: We might be able to leave on timeMore work is being done in x amount of time.

Come up with a goal that is achievable, realistic and time constrained.

  • Set a specific deadline with specific parameters (if you have authority to do so: supervisor).  At 3:20 p.m. on March 15th, this is due in my IN box on my desk, or on Sept. 14th by 11: 05 a.m., (Using an unusual time, makes it more urgent) email me with your results.
  • Attach consequences: If this task is not completed by the deadline, this will affect your performance review.
  • Each task or benchmark should be clearly defined for individual employees.
  • Create accountability checkins to lock the process in place, i.e., Supervisor: Report to me every Thursday by 3 p.m.  Email me to let me know what you need help with, what snags you are encountering, what you have completed, and list your work plan over the next week. Set up coaching meetings if necessary.  In this way, the supervisor can keep everything running consistently, and employees won’t procrastinate. Sticking with a process to set realistic goals will give you more time to do the things that you hold dear.

 Steps to Achieving Goals (Recap)

  • Have a clear understanding of how you define success: complete the four quadrants.  Line them up with company’s mission statement and organizational goals. 
  • Identify your goals: #2 in the quadrant. Is most important.
  • Recognize your support systems: identify friends, colleagues on whom you can call to help you meet your goals.  Brainstorm to stay on track.
  • Establish an action plan. 
  • Outline the steps to reach your goals.
  • Have a contingency plan (change it, if necessary). 
  • Make sure you have some backup: Check with your supervisor to identify available company resources. 
  • Develop a timeline.
    • It’s not important that you always reach them.
    • It’s important that you are in the process.
  • Execute your plan to make it achievable, realistic, and time constrained.
  • Observe, pause, consider, and persist.  Expect bumps.  Renegotiate.  You may have to change your goals. Make the necessary adjustments if your goals are too high or too low.  You’re not always going to be right; that’s okay.
  • Continually evaluate your level of success.  Ask yourself: Are you achieving your results?  How is this going? When you reach a goal, have a celebration.  Have fun.
  • Consider what you have learned to determine new goals. 
  • Use the process to make everyone aware of where you are and where you need to be going.

 Measuring Goal Success

Define Parameters.  Questions to ask yourself are:

  • Did you accomplish your goals, based on performance and not outcome?
  • Effectiveness: Did you achieve your objectives?  What worked, and what didn’t?
  • Impact: Are there demonstratable and positive changes as a result of reaching your goals? 

2 Responses to Mastering the Art of Goal Setting

  1. Great Site!

    Many people are so confused that they don’t know what, where, when, and how to start attaining their dreams in life.

    The question remains: “How do I go about achieving my goals?”

    The most important thing to do before setting a goal is to develop the proper mindset. By conditioning your thoughts to the direction of your goals, you will be able to eliminate all obstacles that come in your way and you will be able to achieve all your goals in spite of the pending challenges ahead.

    You will realize your goals if you are bold enough to come out of your comfort zone and if you maintain that laser-like focus despite people telling you that you can never attain them.

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