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Do goal statements actually work? Find out here

July 20, 2022 - 14 min read


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What is a goal statement?

3 benefits of writing a professional goal statement

How do I write a personal goal statement?

How do I write a business goal statement?

The bottom line

Setting a career goal is like plotting your route on a roadmap. Back in the days of paper maps (remember those?), we would put a sticker at the endpoint and work backward from there. We’d highlight the roads, gas stations, and attractions we want visit along the way.

These days, GPS has automated the route-planning process — but there’s no GPS for your career. You’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way. Creating a goal statement is one way to plan your career. 

People often assume that we're stuck with a goal once we pick it. That’s not true. A career goal statement is dynamic and grows with you. Like any road trip, you’re free to change course or pick a new destination altogether. 

Using goal statements, let’s go over how you can set goals that will supercharge your career and personal development.


What is a goal statement?

There are two main types of goal statements: a personal goal statement and a business goal statement. 

Personal statement

This kind of goal focuses on your personal, long-term career objectives. Think about what you want to accomplish, your dream job title, and the new skills you need to reach it. These are all part of your personal goals. Then you have to create a plan to achieve your end result.

You can include this as a statement of purpose on your resume or cover letter to communicate your ambitions to a hiring manager.

Business statement

As the name suggests, a business goal statement focuses on the long-term development of your business. It provides the framework for your day-to-day operations. This kind of goal statement also includes your core objective, key performance indicators, and the tasks required to arrive where you want to be.

This kind of goal statement may be more for entrepreneurs. However, whether you’re thinking of starting your own business or just want to be involved in the development of your current company, a business statement could be beneficial.

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3 benefits of writing a professional goal statement

Here are a few reasons why you should consider writing a goal statement. 

1. You can use it as a strong motivator 

A strong goal and plan of action can keep you going on the tough days. If you feel frustrated with where you’re at, you can look back at your goal statement and plan for the next step. 

When in doubt, you can also try positive self-talk and review your progress so far. Looking back at goals you’ve achieved already can give you a boost when you’re not feeling particularly motivated

2. Keeps you on task and accountable

Like any good plan, a goal statement will help you measure your progress. Specific tasks with appropriate deadlines will keep you on schedule as you work towards your goal.

You can also share your goals with a friend or colleague. This will add a layer of external accountability to ensure you never stray too far from your ambitions. In fact, studies show that you have a 65% greater chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone else that you will do it.


3. Gives you a clear direction in your life and career

Human beings have the gift of free will. We can take our lives in any direction we choose. But sometimes, the choices are overwhelming. A clear goal will keep you on the right track in your career advancement.

Research even shows that writing down your goal and making an action commitment increases your chances of achieving your goal

How do I write a personal goal statement?

Writing a goal statement should be exciting as you consider everything you can accomplish in the future. However, if you need extra support, consider a platform like BetterUp. We can help you talk your goals out and keep you on track. 

Want to know how to write a personal goal statement? Follow these six steps: 

  1. Focus on your passions
  2. Understand what your goal entails
  3. Visualize the future you want
  4. Use the SMART method of goal setting
  5. Make an action plan
  6. Be flexible 

Let’s dive into each of these steps. 

1. Focus on your passions

This step involves some self-reflection. Think about what gets you out of bed in the morning. Maybe you enjoy being of service to the public, you’re obsessed with building the next big consumer product, or you love spending time with your family. These are all valid passions to include in your goal.

If you don’t know what your passion is, try experimenting. Volunteering or freelancing is an excellent way to expose yourself to other experiences.


2. Understand what your goal entails

Do your research. Try reading blogs, joining community forums online, and attending conferences. Look for folks who have jobs you want and ask how they reached their position. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible as you plot your goal and achieve it.

3. Visualize the future you want

With the information you’ve accumulated so far, think about what your life could look like with this career. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years?
  • What projects did you love working on? Which did you hate?
  • What are some skills you can improve on? What are you really good at?
  • What impression do you want to leave on your colleagues?
  • Why do you love your job and your field?
  • How does your work align with your values?

Hopefully, these questions will teach you something about yourself and help you write a more personal goal statement. 

4. Use the SMART method

The “SMART goals method” is a way of setting and achieving your goals. Here’s what each term means:

  • Specific: Make sure your goal is concrete and concise. You don’t want any confusion about the task at hand.
  • Measurable: You need a way to measure success. Pick a benchmark that will mark your finish line.
  • Relevant: Choose goals that are related to your passions and values. Don’t aim to work at a bank if you’re passionate about NGOs.
  • Time-bound: Set long- and short-term time frames for your goals. The end of the year is often a clean deadline to strive for.

5. Make an action plan

Now that you have a long-term goal, decide how you’ll achieve it. Include things like graduate school, professional development courses, and mentorships you might need to get there. 

6. Be flexible

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Be ready to adjust, adapt, or replace your goals if that’s what you need to be happy. Remember: This is your roadmap, and you can change your destination or add any detours that you please. 


Example personal goal statements

Here are some personal goal statement examples to inspire you: 

  1. “I will become the director of research operations at my company within the next five years. To do this, I will develop my administration and leadership skills and build a positive relationship with the research teams.” 
  2. “Over the next year, I will develop a reputation as a reliable graphic designer and secure 20 new freelance clients. To do this, I will focus on high-profile contracts and promote my work through social media.”
  3. “I will attend school, and change careers from accounting to IT in the next four years. This will mean taking night classes and sacrificing free time to do my assignments.”

How do I write a business goal statement?

Business goals require less soul-searching than personal goals, but there are still some things you should look out for.

1. Match it to your mission statement

Mission statements are the philosophy of the company. Make sure that your personal goals align with that mission. 

For example, your company might sell paper, and your mission might be to “Build a greener future.” A compatible goal would be to set a clear, measurable recycling quota for your departments.

2. Stack your deck with ACES

“ACES” is another goal acronym that stands for:

  • Achieve: What’s your ideal benchmark?
  • Conserve: What’s worth keeping?
  • Eliminate: What should you get rid of?
  • Steer clear: What should your company avoid?

These elements will help you keep the ship pointed in the right direction.


3. Track your results

What are your key performance indicators? Every objective should have a measurable goal attached.

The key term here is “measurable.” If your goal is to boost Twitter engagement, define how many “likes” would constitute a success. If you want to improve sales, pick a number. Be as specific as possible, and make sure your specificity is attainable.

Example business goal statements

We’ll say your paper company sells stationery to consumers. While there’s no template or true goal statement format, your mission is to “help customers build authentic connections through letter-writing.” 

One of your business goals might be “give customers an easy way to create personalized stationery.” This goal is aligned with the organization’s mission and is easily measurable. 

You could build a web tool where consumers customize their stationery before ordering to achieve that goal. You can then measure the tool’s performance based on how many consumers use it. Remember, be specific. Maybe you aim for 100 new users per month in the beginning and gradually increase as the platform becomes popular.

The bottom line

It’s important to prepare before embarking on a road trip. You’ll need an emergency kit, a spare tire, and some snacks. Professional goals are no different. You’ll have to be ready for life’s many twists and turns, so set a clear destination, make a plan, and fill your toolbox with the right skills. Writing goal statements is an easy way to point yourself in the right direction.

Thankfully, BetterUp is here to support you on your journey, too. With the right questions, tools, and team, you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

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Published July 20, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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