Goal Setting

Goal Setting

Goal setting is the process of taking something intangible like a direction you want to move into, and creating clear actionable steps as a way of getting there. It’s the process of writing down what you want to achieve.

Goals mean different things to different people; they can be small, big, personal, professional – the list goes on. They can be set for any timeframe, some people have a goal they want to achieve in their lifetime while others set weekly goals for themselves.

When it comes to setting goals, the generally accepted best practices is to have them be ‘SMART goals,’ that is they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

“That’s why, as much as possible, you must strive to be decisive, clear, and specific. Wishy-washy goals get wishy-washy results.” - Marie Forleo, Everything is Figureoutable

When a goal isn’t achieved, it’s often because it’s missing one of these key elements. If a goal isn’t specific enough, how will you ever know if you’ve achieved it? If there isn’t a date attached to it, when can you say: “I did it!”


We recommend to follow the two step approach to goal setting:

  1. Set the goals, i.e. know what you want to achieve
  2. Build the systems in your life that help you reach those goals

For example, if you want to get promoted at work, a good goal to start with is something that is attainable and within your control. Maybe the first one is to work through one item from your performance review each month. This phase, planning how to achieve your goals, is even more important than goal setting because this is what will truly get you to that place you want to get to when you first decided you needed goals.

“Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.” - James Clear, Atomic Habits

On the show, Hailley is normally the one who reaches for goals as an effective tool in planning her personal and professional life.

“Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.” - James Clear, Atomic Habits

In Hailley’s annual planning she breaks a larger identity based goal (e.g. become a planner) and lists out each of the action she will take on a regular basis to reach those goals (e.g. be on top of birthdays and celebrations 20 times this year).

If you want to take a closer look at her system for goal setting, here is exactly how she sets up her goals. You can also listen to her talk about goal setting in MWW6, MWW7, MWW 25, MWW38, MWW43, and MWW44.