Identifying and Setting Goals

Every day we are faced with many choices and decisions. Often it is hard to know what to do next. When making decisions that are best for you, it is important to consider your interests, strengths and abilities.

Chris Hadfield on how you can achieve your goals

Goals are the things that you want to accomplish and the plans are the map to achieving these goals. Goals and plans work together to help you stay on track and reach your dreams.


It’s easier when you’re planning to include family, friends, teachers and/or guidance counsellors. They may point out things to include in your plans or challenges that you can expect along the way.

Using a SMART goal process is a helpful way to work towards a goal that is important to you. Consider the process below the next time you are developing a goal:


First, decide what you would like to accomplish. Write it down trying to use specific language. If the language is too general, it is more difficult to determine if you were successful.


The best goals are those that enable you to measure their success. What are the indicators that will tell you if you are on your way to achieving the goal or need to revise it?


Believing that you can successfully achieve the goal and having an action plan is a key step in meeting your goals. Avoid a goal that is almost impossible to achieve. Smaller steps or shorter term goals will get you to the long-term goal with more opportunities for success than trying to accomplish it in one big leap.


Choose a goal that is realistic and relevant. This is important if you are working on shorter term goals as a stepping stone to a longer term goal. If you find that the goals do not connect, you may need to revise or create separate goals.


Goals need to have a set timeline with an end date. At what point will you review your progress? When will you aim to complete the goal? Post your timeline in a prominent location so that you can monitor your progress.


My plan didn’t work. Now what?

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to set a SMART goal and stick with it, you may find that your goal is too hard or just not the right fit for you. If that happens, ask yourself some important questions:

  • Do I need to put in more effort?

  • Do I need more information?

  • Was my goal realistic?

  • Did something beyond my control cause problems?

  • Who can I ask for help?

Take time to evaluate your progress, adjust your goals and celebrate your achievements!