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goal setting for work from home professionals

Types of Goal Setting – From North Star Goals to SMART to Bullet Journals

My favourite topic ever – GOAL SETTING!!!  I’m a huge goal-setter, because that is what works for me in ensuring I’m productive and happy (my top strength is Achiever, so setting goals is akin to me brushing my teeth and putting on pants in the morning).

I do know a few people who don’t set goals, or rather they prefer not to set goals because it impedes in their happiness.  Although I find that concept incredibly strange and foreign, they do seem very happy and I can’t fault them in that. (D, you amaze me in your ability to do this and I’m in awe of your energy and smile despite not setting goals 😊)

So this blog post is for the other 90% of you who are:

  • Currently goal setting, but struggling to meet the goals you set
  • Currently not setting goals, but feeling an emptiness or longing for something more for your work or life
  • Currently goal setting, CRUSHING IT, but still needing a challenge

There are different TYPES of goals, and perhaps you’re feeling a dissatisfaction because of the way you’ve set the goal, but not the goal itself.  Below is a list of different types of goals, see if you are currently using any of these techniques and how you can incorporate some new ones:


  1. North Star Goal – a North Star goal (AKA Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is setting a goal so big, so lofty, that everyday you need to spend some time working towards achieving that goal. I like to call this goal “its not about the destination, but about the journey” goal.  There are so many intricate steps and so many hours of work involved in achieving this goal, that you learn and earn so much more in the journey towards the goal, than actually achieving the goal itself.  Most serious goal-setters use this type of goal-setting in conjunction with SMART goals that serve as sub-tasks to the larger North Star Goal.
    • Example – Writing a book and having it published.


  1. Vision Boards – popularity of Vision Boards has risen in recent years – this is goal-setting for the visual person, who needs to “see” what they want to work towards it. You do not need to be a creative person to have an effective vision board, but you will be exercising your creative muscles in putting together a vision board.  Vision board parties are also gaining in popularity if you need support in putting your board together.  Your vision board may include pictures of books, or writing, etc, to keep you motivated to reach your North Star goal, but this will only be one piece of your vision board.


  1. SMART goals – Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Time-based Goals are the most common goals set by people. They are also known as “short term” goals or “enabling” goals.


Many use SMART goals in their North Star Goal plan, but you can also set SMART goals without a North Star.  A great tool for brainstorming what all needs to happen in order for a goal to be achieved is to use a mind-map to map out the sub-tasks and steps, and assign deadlines for completion

  • Example – “write book outline by March 31, 2017”; “write chapter 1 by June 2017” – these are both SMART goals that support your North Star goal
  • Example – “lose 10 pounds by April.”
  • Using a spreadsheet is a good way of managing goals with start dates, end dates, subtasks etc


  1. Stepping Stone goals – these goals are not necessarily tied to your North Star goal, nor are they something you can post on a vision board, nor are they “work related” goals that you can use in your SMART goal plan, but they are still essential to your overall success. Some examples of a stepping stone goal could be.  I prefer to assign timelines to these goals, but many people do not:
    • Take a course in book writing (by December)
    • Learn how to use editing software
    • Read books to find writing styles that I like (read 2 books by November)


  1. Bullet journaling – This is the latest craze in goal setting and to-do list organization. Its essentially a journal, with multiple sections to catalog your brain dumps.  It’s a to-do list, planner and diary all in one, this website may help explain it better.  although I’ve dabbled in bullet journaling, I’m really going to dive into this in the New Year.  I plan on using my Arc notebook as my bullet journal, but you can also buy them anywhere.  Sections can include, but not limited to:
    • Goal setting sections – your North star “writing a book” goal
    • Project management – book writing project management
    • Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly planning – some of your book writing tasks will make their way to your daily, weekly and monthly to-do lists
    • Bucket lists – for everything from places to travel, teas to try, books you’d like to read, resources for “how to write a book”.
    • Mind maps I plan on adding some mindmap templates to my bullet journal for those times that inspiration hits 😊

You may find you experiment with a few different goal-setting formats before you find the type that resonates best with you and your working style.  For my work goals, I use a combination word document/excel spreadsheet.  The word document outlines my goals as well as the current state of the union, and the excel serves to keep track of all sub-tasks and goals with start dates and end dates.

Before you dig into a detailed business plan or goal plan, feel free to use my goal-setting preparation worksheet, (just subscribe to my newsletter via this blog post to get free access to the worksheet 😊)  I also have a ton of resources via my goal-setting board on my pinterest page!