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How can I get better at setting and sticking to my goals?

By: Rosalyn Palmer, Transformational Coach and Therapist on Jan 6th, 2021

As we approach another new year, are you feeling, dreaming and anticipating failure when you think about setting new goals or resolutions?

You know that goals work and that you should set them. The Internet is awash with advice for setting SMART or other clever-sounding goals. So, you set some. And then by the 1st of February, you are back in the guilt of not following through. Is this you?

It is so frustrating as you know that goal setting works.

You question daily; “What stops me from having the life, business success, health, happiness and rewards I desire?

Goal-setting is the most important skill you can ever develop

It is not the goals themselves that are at fault. No matter what you want in life, the first step is simply to decide, commit, to set a goal. If you read any autobiography of a great achiever, you know this to be true. Goals are instructions to yourself. When you set a goal, you’re commanding yourself and gaining momentum in the direction of your vision or dream.

Goal-setting is arguably the most important skill you can ever develop, and it is 100 per cent learnable. So, let me share one of the mind hacks that has really changed the way I set goals.

How to set meaningful goals

Human beings have a need for meaningful challenges and variety. We want to try things that stimulate us; things that let us look back and feel proud. You can notice how the experience of having goals and a dream of knowing where you want your life to be meets your primal need for challenge.

If you focus on your dream, imagining it is real in the same way as athletes visualize their wins; your brain can’t tell the difference between what is and what you imagine. It therefore begins to experience a rise in levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives you and motivates you.

What is crucial is to set really meaningful goals that move you and make you want to do things you haven’t done before at the outset. For example, you want to get fitter, so you set a goal to get up half an hour earlier every day and go for a run or do a live workout on Instagram or YouTube. Or you may wish to set a professional goal – such as placing greater focus on your work-life balance, and getting better at switching off from work. So, you set a goal to stick to your working hours where possible, and decide you will no longer work during the weekends.

Avoid self-sabotage when trying to stick to your goals

Ask yourself: 
‘Why do I want to do this?’
‘What has not doing it cost me last year?’
‘How would doing it make me feel about myself?’

Now you have a meaningful goal. You will have answered something along the lines of: “Not establishing a work-life balance last year has lead me to feeling exhausted and burned out. It’s also cost me a closer relationship with my family – something I want to improve. Avoiding working outside of my office hours at the weekends will allow me to feel healthier and happier, and will allow me to spend more time with my family”.

These reasons ‘why’ are your motivation. Cement them into your daily planner in a compelling way that captures these ‘whys’.  So instead of putting ‘6pm – finish work’ put ‘6pm – family time!’

What may still sabotage you will be taking place at a deeper level. The level of your subconscious. If you have followed the steps above and yet still find that you fail to follow through, self-sabotage or just drift away from your goals then it will be that something very deep seated is stopping you.

Old beliefs are laid down and the brain, like a one-trick pony, can keep you coming back to the behaviours that result from that deep seated, yet unseen, belief.  It is simple psychology. And it is often THE factor holding you back and stopping goal-setting success.

So, the Holy Grail of goal setting is to work out your goals, set them in an achievable way, find your reason ‘why’ and then remove any deep-seated blocks. Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!

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