A goal is for life, not just for January

23 Jan 2024

From “I want to exercise more” to “I know what I want my life to be like in 10 years’ time”, most of us have at some point set ourselves goals, both personally and in our work lives. Goals are good so long as they are SMART: specific, measured, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. So, other than setting a clear vision and framework for action, how is defining your goals beneficial?  

Goal setting benefits  

Improved wellbeing: Goal setting can make a difference in the way you think about your mental and physical health by setting clear and, importantly, achievable targets. Reaching these smaller, progressive goals rather than over-reaching for something unattainable gives your body a dopamine boost that makes you feel better. 

Stronger motivation: Goals inspire you to take action that will lead to something better. Providing they are measurable, they offer a framework to see progress and motivate you to keep going. That feel good factor can then also benefit other areas of your life. 

Clearer focus: In life it is easy to get side-tracked, but having goals allows you to make more focused decisions. They give you a clear path to follow, cutting distraction, dithering and the feeling of being overwhelmed. 

Greater self-awareness: Goals give you control of your future rather than allowing others to dictate it. You will discover your inner strengths, what you're good at, and what new skills you need to learn. 

Accountability: Being clear about what you want to achieve, with a commitment to making it happen keeps you accountable to yourself and, in turn, to others who may be affected by your plan, if you are a team manager for instance. 

Personal growth: Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It drives you to develop new skills, gain knowledge, and grow as a person. 

Consider the bigger picture 

While many New Year goals focus on fitness and wellbeing, it’s worth considering the range of areas that could benefit from an enthusiastic boost. Don’t attempt to run at everything at once; consider the areas where you really want to see change. Some could be personal, others professional; some may need concerted effort, others could be fun.  

Ask yourself, what’s important to you. 

We’ve shared some suggestions below...  



Personal growth 


Save a set amount over a year, with monthly targets, tracking spending to identify unnecessary expenses. 

Research your later-life finances and consider a pension plan. 

 Think SMART 

Goals that are too vague or distant are destined to be forgotten or fail. Thinking SMART makes goals more achievable. Let’s take a popular New Year fitness-related example:  

I will walk more 

Specific: I will increase the amount of walking I do by at least half every week. 

Measurable: I will download a step counting app to record my steps. 

Attainable: I will get off the bus two stops earlier. I will take my dog for a walk for 10 minutes longer and take the stairs instead of the lift. 

Relevant: This will help me improve my fitness, be more alert at work, be able to play with the kids for longer, and will be good for my mental health. 

Time-bound: I will be walking for at least 30 minutes five times a week by the end of next month. 

Reach your goals 

Even the best-laid plans can go awry as other priorities battle for our attention or our motivation wanes. Don’t give up – give yourself the best possible chance by: 

Writing it down: goals won’t become real if they stay in your head.  

Making it visible: post your goals on your walls, desk or fridge.  

Setting milestones: add reminders in a calendar to track progress; celebrate mini-goals.  

Learning from setbacks: work out what went wrong, move on, and don’t dwell on it. 

Being flexible: don’t be afraid to revise your action plan if things aren’t working out.  

So, what’s stopping you? Make 2024 the year you achieve your goals.  

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