A Goal Setting Worksheet: 9 Critical Questions

Checklists are wonderful tools for systematically completing tasks. Filling out a familiar worksheet or answering a series of repeated questions helps train our mind to anticipate the process, making intimidating tasks more accessible.

With that in mind, here are 9 critical questions to help you with achieving goals.

  1. What’s the goal? What is this goal about? What is the subject, topic area or project name? This is the title of your goal setting document. (Examples: Increasing Attendance at Corporate Events; Completing the ABC Project for Client Y; Increasing Employee Engagement in Team C.)
  1. What’s the problem/need? What problem am I solving, or what need am I filling? In 20 words or less, write down a problem statement or need statement.
  1. Who cares? Why is solving the problem or filling the need important? Who is it important to? Write down the benefits of achieving the goal, and who these benefits will help.
  1. What does success look like? What is happening when my goal is met that is different from what is happening now? Write down your success criteria – what 3 measures show success.
  1. What am I creating? What is being generated or developed? What will I point to as the deliverables or products? Write down a concrete list of outputs that will be created as you work towards the goal.
  1. What is my plan? Now, reflect on the process or project plan that will lead to the deliverables you have listed. Be sure to include realistic dates, and partial deliverables if needed. (For example, you may want to create an outline before you create a full presentation.)
  1. Who else will be involved? Who will you count on to help you reach your goals? Whose permission do you need? Who can help you along the way? Which project beneficiaries can and should be involved in the process, and how will you engage them? List the key people, their interests, their roles and how you will connect with them.
  1. Will my plan address the problem or need? Look back at your list of deliverables and your plan. Are you still on track to solve the problem or fill the need? Too often project plans become divorced from the original goal and intent. Make sure that your planned actions still align with the problem or need at hand.
  1. What should I do right now? Every marathon begins with just one step, and a rolling stone gathers no moss. Finish your worksheet by listing three immediate action items that you can do in the next 24 hours to start you on the path forward.

These 9 questions will help you define your goal, describe the underlying problem or need and articulate the path forward. Go for gold in your goal setting!