Online store now open! visit store

8 Goal Setting Questions

Achieving Goals That Really Matter

Here are 8 goal setting questions to help you:

  • Discover more about yourself
  • Decide what you want from life
  • Plan to achieve your goals

Useful questions but where do you start with such a big agenda? Perhaps by asking the most important question first: why does goal setting matter in the first place?

We’ve organised our questions to help you think more about who you are, what you’re doing, and what you’d really love to do.

We start with a question which is short but powerful: why am I here? It may be difficult to answer but it’s important, so take as much time as you need.

Answering this question is the key to what Handy and Covey suggest is so critical – our need to make a difference.


8 Goal Setting Questions – a Framework for Planning

1 Why am I here?

If you find this difficult to answer, try answering these to give you some ideas: What is my sense of purpose? What is meaningful for me? What moves me? What is my passion? What do I care about? What need can I serve?

2 Where have I been?

What past experience have I got?

3 Where am I now?

What kind of person / manager am I? What abilities do I possess? What am I good at? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What do I love doing?

4 Where do I want to get to?

What kind of person / manager do I want to become? What abilities do I want to develop? What learning goals shall I set? What are the organisational goals in which I can make a difference? Which knowledge and skills areas do I need to focus on to deliver both my personal objectives and benefits for my organisation? What is my conscience directing me towards?

5 How shall I get there?

What learning and development actions do I need to undertake? What resources will I need to do perform them? How shall I overcome obstacles to my learning?

6 How will I know if I have arrived?

How do I measure achievement of goals? Is it money? Is it promotion? Is it another measure of success?

7 What’s holding me back?

What’s stopping me from doing what I want to do?

8 Who can help me?

Who can teach me? From whom can I learn?


Asking and answering 8 goal setting questions

[products ids=”1593″ pagination=”no”]

You may want to write down your thinking and answers to these goal setting questions. Writing things down is a useful way to make vague ideas or aspirations into firm plans. It’s also essential to ensure you capture these, even if it takes you a while longer to make sense of them.

There is an excellent tool in our e-guide: SMART Goals, SHARP Goals to help you do just this. The guide contains 30 pages and 5 tools to help you to set SMART goals, then take SHARP action to achieve them. It includes:

  • How do you define goal setting?
  • What features of goal setting are important, if we want to ensure they are more likely to be successfully achieved?
  • What kinds of goals are more likely to make us motivated to achieve them?
  • How do you set SMART goals?
  • Why do goals matter?
  • What kind of goals should you pursue to be happier in what you do?
  • How do you set team goals?
  • What strategies can you apply to overcome barriers to setting goals?
  • How do you develop SHARP plans of action that help you to achieve your goals?
  • What techniques can you use to get things done?
  • How do you set personal goals?


  • Tool 1: Conventional goal setting
  • Tool 2: Setting SMART goals that motivate
  • Tool 3: The kind of goals that will make you happier
  • Tool 4: Taking SHARP action
  • Tool 5: Team goals flowchart
  • Tool 6: Eight personal goal setting questions

Making a Difference and Discovering your “Voice”

One answer to these goal setting questions is proposed by both Charles Handy and Stephen Covey. They suggest that what we all want is to make a difference, to contribute.

For Handy there are three steps to finding meaning in what we do.

Firstly, there is the need for survival. The basics of life must be in place before you can begin to address your purpose in life. Secondly, you must establish your identity. Handy thinks we must prove ourselves in the world, getting noticed, “earn a label in life”. Once these are addressed, you can continue to his third step, “to make a difference to the world in some way and to make a difference to other people.”

Covey’s beliefs echo Handy’s ideas. He thinks there is a great yearning, in both individuals and in organizations. This is the need to discover a true “voice,” to matter, to make a difference, to find greatness. When we do that, we feel more fulfilled and engaged with the world around us and consequently, with our role in that world.

This is the main argument in Covey’s book “The 8th Habit”. Did Covey forget or miss a habit from his best selling book “7 Habits”? Well not exactly. The 8th habit is more a tool for using the 7 habits to create something of significance. As the title suggests, to move from effectiveness to greatness.

Perhaps the key to this is finding your “voice” or your calling. This is best done by matching your passions with your strengths. Achieving goals that satisfy your mind, heart, body and spirit is perhaps another way to move from effectiveness to greatness.

“People are internally motivated by their own four needs: to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy.”

Finding where you want to make a difference, finding your voice, is not easy. You’ll probably need to allow plenty of time to fully think through our 8 goal setting questions. Then be sure to re-visit and update them regularly.

Handy’s views on developing yourself form the basis of our Goal Setting Activity article: 5 Steps to Self-Development at work.

Goal Setting Resources

You can find more of our goal setting resources by reading our featured pages (below).

Goal setting questions

You’ll find our new e-guide: SMART Goals, SHARP Goals is a fantastic, goal setting resource. It’s packed with advice and tools – use it to help you set SMART goals then take SHARP actions to achieve them!

One of our affiliate partners also has an excellent, on-line, goal setting resource. GoalsOnTrack is a “personal success system that will help you really accomplish goals by getting the right things done”.


Where to go from here:


Related Products:

Read more like this:

Goal Setting Quotes

Here’s a selection of goal setting quotes which express the value and wisdom of setting goals. These are invaluable, whether in terms of work and career, or for... read more

Asking Good Questions

Asking Good Questions: In a Minute? We think asking good questions is the one of the keys to good management. The trouble is, how easy is it to... read more