Get the golden rules of goal setting

by Mar 12, 2021

Goals. Do you have any at the moment? Do you feel like SHOULD have some?

I don’t know about you, but I personally find goal setting to be an arduous task. I particularly remember how daunting it was to set career-related goals whilst studying at university. Even more overwhelming when everyone else seems to be smashing their goals.

You may have found yourself stuck in reflection and re-examining your goals when the 2020 global pandemic kicked off – I definitely did in-between all the Netflix binges, awkward Zoom parties and boredom cleaning. Luckily, I followed up on a friend’s book recommendation to read Atomic Habits by James Clear. I’m really glad I did because it helped reframe my approach to goal setting with the following points of consideration:

1. Achieving a goal may only be a momentary victory

For example, if you have a goal to keep your wardrobe tidy, you may choose to spend one Sunday creating a system to meticulously colour-code, organise and store your clothes. Boom! Goal reached! You then start the next week with your wardrobe in check, however it starts to unravel as you’re slammed with university and work commitments. By next Sunday, it’s in complete disarray again which means even though you reached your goal at one point in time, it’s not a permanent change.

2. Goals can restrict your happiness

How good does it feel when you work hard to achieve a goal? Then in an instant, the moment is over and you’re already focusing on the next goal on your list. By doing this we are attaching our happiness to accomplishing external goals and therefore our happiness becomes evasive, waiting for us in the future but non-existent in the present.  


So what’s the work-around – how do we progress in life without goals to motivate, drive, and keep us accountable?

Well, perhaps it’s more productive to focus on consistent systems instead of goals. In this context, following a system will allow you to follow recurring rituals to create positive habits. Since there is no end date, you’ll find yourself regularly adopting patterns of behaviour that set you up for whatever success looks like to you.  For example:

– You want to be career-focused so you commit to establishing a mentee relationship with an industry representative, perhaps on the Professional Mentoring Platform. In doing so, you set aside weekly time to:

  • Identify your areas of career development
  • Reflect on how your interests, personality, skills and values impact your career trajectory
  • Draw on your reflection to establish considered mentoring questions to make the most out your time with your mentor.

– You want to maintain meaningful relationships with friends and family based overseas so you implement a system where you schedule a video call every 1 -2 weeks. 

– You want to be physically healthy, so you have a system where you engage in physical activity for an hour three times a week, and you prepare nutritious meals 80% of the time. 


So next time you’re feeling bogged down by your goals, consider shifting your mindset to create systems that enable you to lead the life you want to live. And, as with most things in life, consistency is key!


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Prajyana Kumar

Prajyana Kumar

Employability Coordinator

With over 6 years experience in HR, recruitment and training based roles, Prajyana is currently working as an Employability Coordinator with UTS Careers. She has developed skills in relationship building, career coaching and a special interest in graduate recruitment and enhancing employability for international students. She enjoys learning from others and working in environments that are dynamic and vibrant.