The Easy Guide to the Goal Setting Process

How excited do you get when you are setting goals for the new year ahead? If only that excitement lasted long enough to propel you towards actually accomplishing that goal – for once! 

Maybe the goals you set are often too general or unrealistic. Maybe you realized that’s not the goal you should have prioritized in the first place. 

Well, the good news is, there’s a way to overcome all these issues and set a goal that you will actually follow through to the end. 

In this post, we will walk you through a proper goal-setting process step-by-step. Goal setting worksheets and templates are at the bottom of the post, and you can use these right away to start planning your goals.

What Is Goal Setting and Why Is It Important? 

Be it in your personal life or work life, “goals” is a word we often hear. But what is it exactly? Let’s pause for a moment and take a look. 

A goal is a desired result. And goal setting is the process of defining this desired result and planning how to achieve it within a specified time limit. Or in the most basic of terms, goal setting is planning for the future. 

There are 3 types of goals out there and the goals you set could belong to one or two of these categories. 

  1. Time Goals – short-term goals that take less time to obtain and long-term goals that considerably take longer, fall into this category.
  2. Focus Goals – this type of goal is usually long-term and involves life-changing achievements and the need to change different areas in life. For example, starting your own business. This may require you to find the relevant money, learning about managing a business and so on. 
  3. Topic-Based Goals – this type of goal applies to a specific area of your life. It could be related to an aspect of your career, finances, or personal life. For example, saving enough money to buy a new house.     

Goals are useful for setting direction to something you do. It helps you identify what you need to do to achieve your target.

Moreover, it helps you properly organize your time and resources as well. In the context of a team, it plays a significant role in terms of keeping everyone on the same page. 

And someone who actually follows the goal-setting process will be more motivated and committed to achieving his or her goals than someone who doesn’t.

Goal Setting Process

Many a time we abandon our goals before we reach the finish mark. If we actually go the extra mile to follow a proper goal setting process, we can actually improve our chances of hitting our target. 

We have listed below the steps you need to take and you’ll realize that it actually doesn’t take much. 

Step 1: Write down your goals 

Does it seem like an unnecessary step? After all, why should you write it down when you can just remember it.

Contrary to what you may think, writing your goals down gives you something tangible, something to sit back and look at and determine if it is really worth your time. 

When writing down your goals, think of what you really want to achieve and why you want to achieve it. And set due dates for completion and evaluation as well. 

This step will help you prioritize your goals. As you write them down, you will have the chance to evaluate which goal is more important and which can wait, and plan accordingly. 

Step 2: Apply SMART 

Now that you have selected the goal you want to pursue, it’s time to make sure that it adheres to the SMART criteria. Make sure that your goal is,

Specific – Your goal should be clear with its boundaries well-defined. It shouldn’t be vague or general. For example, the goal “I want to save $100 by the end of this month” is more specific than “I want to save money”. 

Measurable – How do you measure your success once you have accomplished your goal? Add measurable elements like dates, amounts, percentages, etc. when you are defining your goal. 

Attainable – Do you have the expertise, money, time, or resources to achieve this goal?  It’s important to ensure that the goal you set is actually achievable and is not too far out of your reach. But this doesn’t mean you should set goals that are too easy to gain. Setting challenging (yet realistic) goals will actually keep you motivated and committed.  

Relevant – Does this goal align with the rest of the things? With your career? Your personal life? You need to stop and think whether, at the end of it all, you will be able to take something useful out of it. 

Time-Specific – Your goals should have deadlines and they should be realistic. This will create urgency and energize you to get the work done without procrastinating. 

SMART Goal Template for Goal Setting Process
SMART Goal Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

Step 3: Identify the obstacles 

There could be obstacles that could hold you back along the way. Maybe you lack experience and knowledge in a certain area, or you may not have the money. It’s important to figure out how to overcome these challenges when allocating time and planning the tasks you need to do.

Step 4: Create an action plan

Feel like there are way too many steps? Don’t worry, you’re almost ready to start working on your goal -soon after you create the action plan

This is where you identify the steps you need to take to achieve your goal. Wouldn’t it make things easier if you knew exactly what to do?

If you have set a more challenging goal, you can break it down into smaller steps and set milestones to make it more manageable. 

Using an action plan, you can see what you need to do each day, week, or month before the due date is done. And make sure to insert the steps you need to take in order to overcome the obstacles as well, especially if they take time. 

Action Plan Template for Goal Setting Process
Action Plan Template for Goal Setting (Click on the template to edit it online)

Step 5: Continue to monitor your progress

Remember to assess how you progress towards your goal throughout time. Are you falling behind or right on schedule? If you are falling behind, make sure to revise your action plan and add the necessary steps to catch up.

Goal Setting Worksheet and Templates

Ready to set your goals? Here are some useful templates to kick-start your process. Simply click on the template to open it in the Creately editor. Make necessary changes and download them as PNGs, SVGs or JPEGs. Or you can simply share it with others via a secure file sharing link.

Goal Setting Worksheet

Goal Setting Worksheet for Goal Setting Process
Goal Setting Worksheet Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

Goal Setting Template

Goal Setting Template
Goal Setting Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

What is Your Goal Setting Process? 

You may already have a goal-setting process that you cherish. Do you think you can improve it with these steps? Share what you think with us in the comments section below.

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Amanda Athuraliya

Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.


  1. Niki

    Hi, I love these charts. I would love to use them for my clients in my 90 day self development program I’m building. Would it be okay if I used them? I’m happy to mention the author.

    Thank you!

    • Amanda Athuraliya

      Hi Niki,

      Glad you are keen on using them. Please go ahead and use them. They are editable and free.


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