It’s that time of year. Lots of people I speak to are thinking about 2018 and what they want to achieve and some will set New Year’s resolutions, although did you know only 8% of people keep their resolutions?

Just writing down your goals makes them 50% more likely to be achieved. How crazy is that? I guess I could liken this to making lists of things you need to do in the day. I know I live by my to-do list and love the sense of achievement when I’ve completed it.

I started thinking about goals this week and how I set my own goals. I’ve used the same method for years, as taught to me by my dad and it’s based on the GROW model, a goal setting practice used by coaches all over the world, and I want to share it with you.

Celebrate Your Successes First

Before you jump headfirst into setting goals for next year, have a reflect on this year and what you’ve accomplished. Really think. This is something we so often forget to do, but actually if you think of the things you’ve achieved then for a start you’ll be feeling good about yourself, but you’ll also be able to reflect on how you could do better next year coming from a positive mindset rather than a negative mindset. It’s so easy to get caught up on the things we didn’t do but I’m sure if you take the time to reflect you’ll have come further than you realise.

Considerations Before Setting Any Goals

Many people say what their goal is and while it may be something they really want to achieve, they don’t put a lot of consideration into it before they set the goal. Whenever I’m thinking about my goals I always go through these four key considerations first.

  1. Can the goal be broken down into smaller, more attainable goals?
  2. Is the goal for me or for others?
  3. Am I fully in control of achieving this goal?
  4. Am I in the right mindset to set this goal?

I made a little video to go into more detail about these considerations so feel free to take a few minutes to watch it…

My Goal Setting Exercise

Now we are getting into the actual exercise I do when I set goals, and I like to do this by myself, with a cup of tea and an old fashioned pen and paper. There’s just a few steps to this and I can guarantee it will make that goal seem more attainable and give you the steps to achieve it.

Got your goal in mind? Let’s get started.

  1. Take a piece of paper and draw a rectangle in the middle. The rectangle should be tall as opposed to wide.
  2. Then write Goal at the top of the page, Reality at the bottom, Options on the left and Will on the right.

If you’d prefer I have a template of this that you can download and print and use as much as you want! Get the Goal Setting Template Here.

The Goal

Now we need to get into the specifics of the goal itself. Write those at the top of the page. You could write what the actual goal is and then anything relating to it underneath. Think What, Where, and When. The more detail the better. If it’s running a marathon there’s probably a specific date and location you can include. If it’s something like a job promotion, then you may not have a specific date but you may want to give yourself a date to aim for. If that’s longer than a year you may want to break the goal down (see considerations above!)

The Deep Why

Pop your pen down for a moment. I want to ask you a few questions about this goal. It’s so easy to skip this step when you’ve got that piece of paper in front of you and you just want to get stuck in but without considering the deeper why, you may never get any further.

Quite often when I ask people why they want to achieve a goal their initial response is normally around what I call an “extrinsic” or external reward; they will get a pay rise, a bigger house, a job promotion etc. But really, there must be something deeper, something burning inside which will drive this goal, and normally that’s something “intrinsic” or internal.

Here are my questions to you about your goal:

  • Why do you want to achieve it?
  • What would it mean to you?
  • What would it say about you when you achieve it?
  • How will that make you feel?
  • What will it mean to those close to you when you achieve it?
  • How will that make you feel?
  • How much do you want this?

I hope your responses changed from external reward to feelings of deep pride and happiness? If so, great you must be feeling really fired up and ready to continue. Hang on to those deep feelings, we will revisit them later.

The Reality

At the bottom of the page we need to assess the reality. Where are you now? It may be that you’ve already started working towards this goal, if we use the marathon scenario, you may already be running. Some people like to write this as a percentage “I’m 30% of the way there.” Definitely use this space to face that reality of how far away you are from the goal. Again, you may realise this goal needs to be broken down further.


I love this step; Brain Dump! It’s time to write on the left hand side of the page all of the options you could take to help you achieve the goal. I mean all of them. Get everything on the page. You can big and small, and try to think outside the box. Here’s some examples to get your thoughts going:

  • Could you do some research? Does that involve going to the library? Google? Youtube?
  • Could you take a course online or in person?
  • Is there someone you could go to for advice?
  • What about equipment, clothing, tools etc to help you achieve the goal?
  • Are there exams you need to take?

You get the idea. Really exhaust every avenue in this part of the exercise.

Where There’s a Will There’s A Way

The Will section falls into two parts. The first is What Will You Do? It’s time to get a nice coloured pen and drag a line across the page of every option you will actually do. I just start at the option and draw a long arrow across to the Will side. Then, for each one I write a date. This could be the date I will have completed that option by or the date I will start it by, but this is a crucial step for accountability. I normally grab my diary at this stage and start to transfer some dates in my diary. For example if I need an evening to research then I’ll find an evening I know my boyfriend is at work and block it out in my diary and set that in stone!

Once you’ve covered what you will do and when it’s time to really focus on the Why.

The Crucial Step Most People Forget When They Set Goals

This is probably the most important step of the entire exercise. Most people will put their pen down right there and finish. They will have set the goal but they won’t have gone deep into the why, the thing that will keep this goal alive and burning inside.

So I ask you now… How Much Do You Want This?

I really hope your answer is 100%. If it is you’ve probably thought back to the why at the beginning of the exercise and reflected on those deep feelings of happiness and pride. If you truly tapped into those feelings then you know how much you want this and there’s only one thing left to do, go for it!

But if that answer, that gut reaction to the question was anything less than 100% then you’ve given yourself wiggle room to not achieve it. If your answer was 80% then you’ve left 20% room for sabotage. How achievable does that goal look now? Probably not as much.

So if that’s the case then let’s go back and revisit the reasons why you set this goal in the first place. Why do you want it? How will it make you feel? How will it make those around you feel? And how will that make you feel?

Starting to creep up to that 100%?

Feeling Ready To Conquer Those Goals In 2018?

Did you find this exercise useful and enjoyable? I hope so! Please tag me in any social media posts (@sophcoulthard on instagram) if you’re sharing your GROW model online. I’d love to see what you come up with!

Originally published at