5 Steps to Goal Setting for the Non-Goal Setter

December 31 2018

By Tommy Thompson, Chief Content Officer for Greenhouse Culture 

For some people, goal setting comes naturally. They can’t wait to set new goals and pursue new heights.

Others cringe at the idea of setting goals. Goals imply rigidity and inhibit spontaneity. Goals are for the driven person, they reason, not for the flexible, live-in-the-moment person.

Funny thing is, usually they are right.

While I am a huge fan of goals and probably fall in the camp of goal-lover, I recognize the clear drawbacks. Many people are good at setting goals. Few are as good at accomplishing goals. And some who are goal setters trounce over anyone who gets in the way of their precious goals. Not very appealing!

This post is for the non-goal setter and for the goal setter who needs a better way of thinking about goals. First, we should admit the most common problems with goals:

  • Too many goals– If a person has too many goals (I came in at 31 goals one year…), then the very process becomes a license for failure. The person who sets too many goals simply goes through a process of deciding which goals to actually pursue. Usually, those are the goals that are easiest. The most important goals are left undone.
  • The goals get forgotten– Many goals suffer the same fate as New Year’s resolutions. After the first month or so, the goals are forgotten or abandoned in the frenzy of everyday living. Without a regular reminder system, goals are rarely realized.
  • The goals only deal with one area of life– Often goals will deal with health or finance but ignore relationships or faith. Or the goals may focus on career and ignore marriage. Too many times, the areas for goals that are overlooked are the areas of greatest need.

And so, here is a simple process for setting goals that will likely improve the effectiveness for both the goal-setter and the non-goal-setter. 


  1. Grab a piece of paper and write the following headings down the left-hand margin:
    1. Health 
    2. Finances 
    3. Faith
    4. Family 
    5. Experiences 
    6. Career/Purpose/Mission 
    7. Relationships
    8. Personal Growth/Habits/Lifestyle
  2. Write down one goal for each area. Your goal should be the one thing that you can think of in that area that, if you accomplished it, would meaningfully move you forward. For instance, in the area of Finances, you might write, “track and budget my credit card”. Only do one goal for each area unless you cannot decide between two goals in a given area.
  3. Once you have one goal for each area, choose the two or three that are the most important.
  4. Write those three down in the order of importance. Those are your goals for the year. You can either keep the other goals as second-level goals or put them aside. They will likely take care of themselves. If you accomplish your key two or three goals, I can guarantee that you will be happily surprised by how much progress you have made.
  5. Final step – Very Important! – Post those three goals in a place that you will see them all the time. Or set up a system to have them show up regularly. You might write them down in your calendar on the first day of every month or tape them to your bathroom mirror.

The bottom line is that a few very important goals accomplished every year will always beat checking off many unimportant goals.


About Greenhouse Culture: 

We grow people. Help them find their career Sweetspot and get intentional about making their greatest contribution. 
Assessments & the like give you self-awareness, but then what do you do with that? And productivity tools make you more efficient, but efficient in the wrong things.
So Greenhouse is bridging the gap. Helping lots of people clarify their career Sweetspot AND bringing it to life.

More Greenhouse ideas and inspiration: