How To Set Goals The Storytelling Way

Goal Setting and Storytelling

In 2019, Strava – the largest sports participation platform analysed trends in global athlete data. They deduced that the second Friday of January was the day when most people gave up on their new year fitness goals. They named this day as Quitter’s Day.

The beginning of a new year is usually when people get into goal setting mode – both on personal and professional fronts. While Strava’s analysis points to trends in the area of fitness and personal well-being, this applies to goals that leaders and managers set for themselves and their business.

According to studies, only 19% of organisations deliver projects successfully, most of the time. It means a high 81% of projects end up in delays and cost overruns. And one of the main causes of project failures is poor leadership.

Leadership has an organisation-wide impact. That means, it is imperative that leaders at all levels work on upping their leadership capabilities and devote time to setting self-development goals.

The beginning of a new year is an apt time for many leaders to evaluate the progress of the previous year and make a fresh start with renewed goals. Many use the familiar SMART goal setting formula and that brings a good level of clarity to the goals. But is that enough to get consistent action going?

What's a Smarter Way of Goal Setting?

Goal Setting – The Storytelling Way

The fundamental question is how you can up your chances of hitting your goals. The answer is in employing both the logical and creative parts of your brain in the goal setting process. And storytelling techniques can be applied to setting goals.

Step 1: Work out the details

After defining the goal to be achieved, get the plot in place. The plot here is the details of the journey of achieving your goal. Bring in inputs from your SMART goal setting here. 

Ask yourself:

  • What is the sequence of activities that will form the highlights at each stage of the goal achieving process
  • What are the milestones that you will hit on the way?

Step 2: Think ‘larger frame’

Set goals not for the sake of just hitting those goals. Expand the frame of context. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What does achieving this goal do for me? 
  • What larger purpose does it serve? 
  • How does this goal fit into my larger (work) story?

 (If it’s a goal for your business / project, replace ‘me’ with ‘project / team’)

Step 3: Travel to the future

When you have achieved this goal, you look back at the journey you undertook to get to that point. Prepare a summary story that you will tell. It can be using simple storytelling techniques. 

These questions can help put together your story. 

  • What big challenge did you overcome?
  • What was it when you started?
  • What is it like to cross the finish line?
  • What does this do for you / your team / project / organisation?
  • What is this enabling you in the future?

The human mind loves storytelling as well as challenges. That’s why personal goal setting can be an exciting exercise. Bring the excitement of goal setting and storytelling together, and you have a winning combo for crossing milestones in your personal and professional journey as individuals and leaders.

More power to you as you set out to define the story of your journey for the rest of the year.

About The Author
Vinod Krishna

Vinod Krishna is a brand storytelling trainer and consultant at DustyPaths.
He brings 3 decades of experience in leading people, projects, and businesses
to forge new paths in brand storytelling.
He is an avid barefoot runner, trekker, theater artist, and photographer.
Connect with him on LinkedIn