So you’re revving up your social marketing—with the help of our Sample Social Media Tactical Plan, you’ve figured out your social objectives, defined your goals, and determined the metrics you’ll use to measure success. The only thing missing? A way to map, track, and share your social marketing plan company-wide.

This sample editorial calendar will help you manage your daily, monthly, and yearly marketing on social. Check out how Marketo plans our social content, and then create your own editorial calendar using our handy templates.

In our experience, companies tend to have one of two problems with social—either they can’t think of anything to post, or they’ve got so much material that they overwhelm their audience. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, the question of what (and how often) to post on social is a very important one.

To help you answer the cadence question, we’ve shared our own posting schedule for each social network. But to figure out the right mix for your own business, you should start with your priorities: what do you hope to accomplish with your social presence?

You probably have several objectives, which might include:

  Sharing relevant content

     Showing off your brand’s sparkling personality Promoting events

  Announcing new products

    Gathering new names for your marketing database Acquiring new customers

     Building/nurturing relationships with your current audience Increasing traffic to your blog/website/landing pages

At Marketo, we prioritize promotions that our marketing team has specifically requested (see our “Social Request Form” template later in this guide), events that need to be promoted, our daily marketing blog, and our newest educational content.

We also look at each day/week’s post as a whole—using our social editorial calendar, we can clearly see if we’re over-posting about a certain topic, or failing to support one of our core competencies.

Your editorial calendar should reflect your own priorities— fill them in below:

Priority1: Priority 2:  

Priority 3:  

Priority 4:

At Marketo, we always aim for the 411 rule on social—

we try to post four educational, entertaining posts for every one “soft promotion” (such as an event promotion) and one “hard promotion” (such as “watch a demo”).

We’ve found that this approach works in email marketing, on our blog, and in social marketing. It lets us engage in conversations with our audience, build awareness, and keep in touch with our followers— without coming across as pushy or sales-y.

  So even if one of your top priorities is “announcing new products,” we don’t recommend tweeting about your new releases all day. Likewise, if you want to acquire new customers on social, it’s still not the best venue for advertising deals. You can certainly mention promotions on occasio but do so with caution. Your audience’s trust—ultimately, your most powerful selling tool—hangs in the bala

Sample Social Editorial Calendar 4

Social is the perfect place to show your brand’s human side

—you can be conversational, engaging, and even funny (if that aligns with your brand). But while you might adopt a more playful voice on Twitter, and a more professional voice on LinkedIn, consistency is key.

Stephanie Schwab of Social Media Explorer breaks down a brand’s voice into four categories: Character/Persona, Tone, Language, and Purpose. Here’s her list of attributes for each category—which of these descriptors belong to your brand?


            Friendly Warm Inspiring Playful Authoritative Professional



Personal Humble Clinical Honest Direct Scientific


                            Engage Educate Inform Enable Entertain Delight Sell Amplify

Sample Social Editorial Calendar 5


Once you’ve defined your voice, you’ll want to aim for consistency across your entire company. Here are some strategies we use at Marketo to achieve a consistent voice:

  • Align your writers. Make sure anyone writing for your brand (whether it’s advertising, press releases, ebooks, or blog posts) is closely aligned. Often, this content is all written by the same person. If these functions are handled by multiple people, meet regularly to review and improve.
  • Extend the review process. At the end of each day, our social team sends their scheduled tweets, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn posts to a cross-functional team of reviewers. This way, members of our PR, demand generation, content, SEO, and PPC teams

all have a chance to weigh in. (This is also a great way to catch typos and bad links!)

  • Keep an editorial calendar. A calendar isn’t just for planning out your future social posts—it’s also for recording your posts from the past. It isn’t easy keeping track of which ebook you’ve

already tweeted about, or which event you’ve already advertised on LinkedIn, especially if you have multiple people on your team.

At Marketo, we’ve created a company-wide Social Promotion Request form, which we created in Google

What would you like us to promote?:

(Please include any applicable links)

Forms. Anyone in the company can request that Marketo  

post about a particular event, asset, or announcement. Once they fill out the form, the information automatically populates a “Responses” document, which our social team then reviews.

For example, our content team might fill out the form to promote a new ebook, while our events team might request promotion for a speaking appearance. Once a request appears on our Responses document, we add it to our editorial calendar. This gives our social team a “big picture” view of our upcoming posts, and ensures that our important promotions are properly scheduled.

Here’s what our form looks like—feel free to tweak for your own company’s needs:

When do you want this promoted?:

(Ex. “3 times in March,” “1 week before the event,” “1 day before the webinar,”)

If you’d like your post to go on Twitter, please write the exact message below:

(Make sure that the messaging in under 140 characters, link included. Don’t forget to include Twitter handles or hashtags if applicable.)

If you’d like your post to go on LinkedIn, please write the exact message below:

If you’d like your post to go on Google Plus, please write the exact message below:

(Don’t forget to include Google Plus Accounts or hashtags if applicable.)

Anything else we need to know about?

(Please write any comments, details, or notes that we should be aware of.)

Sample Social Editorial Calendar 7


Whether there are five or 500 employees at your company, you should make them a part of your social strategy.

Research has shown that people trust their friends and families more than brands on social, and most employees at your company will have a social network to leverage.

Encourage your teammates to share your messaging in the same way you’d encourage your audience:

  1. Make it as easy as possible, removing any potential roadblocks
  1. Offer an incentive for doing so

We recommend using a tool like GaggleAmp, which allows you to pre- load messaging for members to share—once an employee has synced her social profiles, she can either allow GaggleAmp to post messaging automatically, or she can pick and choose which messages to share.

Either way, it makes the process as easy as clicking “yes” or “no.”

One of the golden rules of blogging is “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” If you update your blog inconsistently, your audience won’t know when to expect new content, and they’ll inevitably feel frustrated when you haven’t added anything new.

Of course, some weeks you’ll have a dozen things to write about; other weeks you’ll have none. Creating an editorial calendar for your blog will help you maintain a consistent cadence. If you have more material than usual, you can just pop it on next week’s calendar. If you notice the calendar for the coming week is light, you can gather some new material with time to spare.

A calendar also helps you map time-sensitive content ahead of time. We keep our content, social, and PR teams closely aligned, so that blog posts containing new announcements, releases, or awesome new content assets are firmly on the calendar weeks in advance. At the end of each week, we send around the blog topics for the following week— this way, any “last minute” changes aren’t actually at the last minute.

Here’s how a typical week of blog posts looks at Marketo:

  • MONDAY: New asset promotion
  • TUESDAY: Post about best marketing practices
  • WEDNESDAY: Partner post
  • THURSDAY: Post about best practices
  • FRIDAY: Fun, lighter post


Fill in the following information on the next page to build your own blogging calendar:

    1. Who will contribute content to your blog? (Check all that apply)

  Our content marketing team Our PR team

Our marketing team

  Other teams within our organization Our partners

Our customers

Industry experts/thought leaders

    1. Who will be responsible for editing each blog post, to ensure consistency /accuracy/quality?
  1. List any upcoming releases, company/industry events, announcements, or content assets you will want to promote on your blog (If applicable, sync with your PR, content, social, and product teams to determine this):


  1. List any holidays, national/international events (i.e. The Academy Awards, The Super Bowl, etc.) that you’d like to create blog posts about:
    1. Who will need to give final approval on each blog post before   it’s published?
    1. How many times, per week, will you blog?

(We recommend you post at least 3 times per week)

  times per day

  times per week

Sample Social Editorial Calendar 10

Facebook is one of our favorite social marketing networks. With over 1.32 billion active users, it’s practically guaranteed that your audience (or a segment of it) is

on Facebook as well. We recommend posting to your Facebook page no more than twice per day—most people get annoyed when a close friend floods their Facebook feed, never mind a company.

But even though we aim to post only twice daily, our social team tends to have Marketo’s Facebook page open all day long. That’s because if your audience is engaging with you, via comments, likes, shares, and messages, it’s important that you join the conversation. If someone has a question or complaint, you want to be on hand to

address it immediately. (Also, an unfortunate truth is that visitors may use Facebook as an opportunity to post inappropriate or offensive content to your feed—if you aren’t monitoring closely, you might not “hide” the post from your feed in time.)

As with your blog, it’s important that your Facebook posts contain a healthy mixture of educational, fun, and entertaining content. Again, aim for the 411 rule—only a third of your content, at most, should be promotional.

To help us schedule content ahead of time, and to give our audience an idea of what to expect each week, we repeat themed posts on certain days of the week. Of course, these mini-themes align with our overall theme—marketing!

For example, on Monday, we post a “Motivational Monday” quote to inspire our audience for the week; on Wednesday, we post a “Hump Day HAHA”—a clever marketing campaign to lighten up the mid-week doldrums. On Friday, we post “Flashback Friday” images of classic marketing campaigns from the past.

There are plenty of ways to plan out themes—you might decide to post about new releases on the first Monday of the quarter, or answer audience questions every Wednesday.

Do a quick brainstorm with your team, and list some ideas for repeating themes below:






Added bonus for marketing automation users: The best solutions

Lastly, don’t forget to take advantage of your other Facebook real estate—your cover photo and profile picture. We have a great cheat sheet about leveraging these highly visible (and free!) areas of

your profile.

Sample Social Editorial Calendar 12

Here’s how a typical week of Facebook posts looks at Marketo:

COVER PHOTO: Marketing Nation Roadshow promotion MONDAY:

2 FB posts

      • 1 blog promotion
      • 1 “Motivational Monday” post


2 FB posts

  • 1 blog promotion
  • 1 new asset promotion— Pin for the Win

Sample Social Editorial Calendar 13


1 FB post

    • 1 “Hump Day Joke” post


1 FB post

    • 1 blog promotion


2 FB posts

      • 1 blog promotion
      • 1 “Flashback Friday” post

Sample Social Editorial Calendar 14

Fill in the following information to build your own Facebook calendar:

  1. Who will be responsible for posting and monitoring your Facebook page?:
  1. List any upcoming releases, company/industry events, announcements, or content assets you will want to promote on Facebook (If applicable, sync with your PR, content, social, and product teams to determine this):
    1. How many times per day will you post?

(We recommend you post 1–2 times per day)

    times per day Monday through Friday Seven days a week



4. List any holidays, national/international events (i.e. The Academy Awards, The Super Bowl, etc.) that you’d like to post on Facebook about:


Sample Social Editorial Calendar 15

Unlike Facebook, you can post to Twitter many times a day—in fact, we recommend posting roughly once per hour. If that sounds time-consuming…it is. That’s why we highly suggest using a tool that allows you to pre-schedule your tweets. Hootsuite, Buffer, and Oktopost are all inexpensive choices which allow you to both monitor and schedule your posts.

But just because you can tweet frequently doesn’t mean you can afford to be self-promotional—keep the 411 rule firmly in mind. Take advantage of the variety of ways you can engage your audience on Twitter. You’ll want to be continually “favorite”-ing, retweeting, and responding to tweets from your audience. We always schedule at least one tweet per day linking to an awesome article or study (one not written by us), and typically retweet external links throughout the day.

Just like on Facebook, your profile picture and cover image are great places to advertise special events, promotions, new content, and more. We typically adjust our cover image depending on our biggest upcoming event, as shown below. (Note: to give all of our social channels consistency, our Twitter cover image is the same as

our Facebook cover image.)

orial Calendar 16

Here’s a typical list of scheduled daily posts on Twitter—at the end of the day, we would send this around to the whole team for feedback. You’ll notice that our Twitter posts are aligned with our posts on Facebook— for instance, on Monday we tweet about Motivational Monday, and we use both profiles to direct traffic to our blog.

While this schedule was made in Hootsuite, which we use to schedule/ manage posts, you can plan your tweets ahead of time without additional tools. Just make sure your message is below 140 characters (including the link), uses relevant hashtags, and includes an image

if possible.

Sample Social Editorial Calendar 17

Fill in the following information to build your own Twitter calendar:

1. Who will be responsible for posting to and monitoring your Twitter page?

  1. List any upcoming releases, company/industry events, announcements, or content assets you will want to promote on Twitter (If applicable, sync with your PR, content, social, and product teams to determine this):


    1. Who will be sent the next day’s scheduled tweets for review?


    1. How many tweets, per day, will you schedule?

(We recommend you post 10 times per day)

    times per day Monday through Friday Seven days a week


5. List any holidays, national/international events (i.e. The Academy Awards, The Super Bowl, etc.) that you’d like to tweet about:


Sample Social Editorial Calendar 18

Because LinkedIn is a professional networking site, we typically use it to post links to articles and blog posts, new educational content, and upcoming events. Unlike Twitter, which is highly interactive (and therefore time-consuming to maintain), or Facebook, which is best for fun/entertaining content, LinkedIn is the most “serious,” straight to the point social network. It’s also a powerful recruiting tool—you can post job openings on LinkedIn, and it’s probably one of the first thing potential employees check out.

We also recommend building LinkedIn “Groups” around your company’s specializations and core competencies. Encourage customers to use this as a forum for discussions and assign someone to monitor your group. The monitor should post responses and keep the conversation going.

If you don’t have the bandwidth to build your own, become an active participant in established Groups that speak to your core audience. Make a list of keywords that relate to your prospects or the industries you target, and run a search for any LinkedIn Groups related to these keywords. Once you find the right groups, participate in discussions, ask questions and make connections.

LinkedIn followers aren’t likely to check your page as often as Facebook or Twitter, but we generally post to our LinkedIn page 1–2 times

per day.

Fill in the following information to build your own LinkedIn calendar:

1. Who will be responsible for posting to and monitoring your LinkedIn page?

  1. List any upcoming releases, company/industry events, announcements, or content assets you will want to promote on LinkedIn. (If applicable, sync with your PR, content, social, and product teams to determine this):


    1. What Group(s) will you create on LinkedIn, and who will monitor them?


    1. Which established Group(s) will you join, and who will participate in them?

6. List any holidays, national/international events (i.e. The Academy Awards, The Super Bowl, etc.) that you’d like to post to LinkedIn about:

4. How many times per day will you post to LinkedIn?

(We recommend you post 10 times per day)

    times per day Monday through Friday Seven days a week


Sample Social Editorial Calendar 20

Marketers often talk about two kinds of social traffic— “paid” and “organic.” Organic traffic is the kind you naturally earn when you post relevant, high-quality content and work hard to engage your audience. Paid traffic is earned when you take that same high-quality content, and pay to improve its chances of being seen.

At Marketo, we put a portion of our marketing budget behind paid promotions on all of our social channels—as sponsored posts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These networks charge based on audience interactions with your posts—the more successful your ads are, the more they charge. That means it’s important to be strategic with your ad placement, and to check in on their progress regularly.

We always have a variety of paid campaigns running, but generally speaking, we refresh our Facebook ads every two-to-three months, our LinkedIn ads every two weeks, and our Twitter ads every two weeks.

Of course, this depends on how well our audience is engaging—if you’re reaching the end of your budget, you’ll need to either allocate more money or pull the ad.

To determine how effective a campaign is, we recommend taking the long view—are your impressions/click-through rates/conversions dropping? If an ad isn’t getting enough traction, you might want to switch it out ahead of schedule.

Sample Social Editorial Calendar 21

Social marketing has a lot of moving parts. Print out or copy this checklist to make sure you’re completing the necessary daily tasks:

Check any incoming tweets/FB comments/LinkedIn mentions from yesterday.

    Refer any support questions to the appropriate team Reply to any comments

  “Like,” “favorite,” or “re-tweet” where appropriate

Check for friend requests and new followers, accept and follow back where appropriate.

Double-check the tweets/posts you scheduled last night.

    Check for relevance (situations can change overnight!) Check all links

   Check for typos

Check for new social promotion requests from your team, whether this is done via a dynamic form or an email alias.

  Check your paid promotions.

    Are you still within your budget? Is your audience engaging?

Check your editorial calendar and colleagues to confirm any events, industry news, or announcements you’ll need to monitor.

Send tomorrow’s tweets, Facebook posts/LinkedIn posts around for review.

    Check all links Check for typos

  Check your tracking parameters

(if using marketing automation or tracking platform to collect data)


Marketo (NASDAQ: MKTO) provides the leading marketing software for companies of all sizes to build and sustain engaging customer relationships. Spanning today’s digital, social, mobile and offline channels, Marketo’s® customer engagement platform powers a set of breakthrough applications to help marketers tackle all aspects

of digital marketing from the planning and orchestration of marketing activities to the delivery of personalized interactions that can be optimized in real-time. Marketo’s applications are known for their ease-of-use, and are complemented by the Marketing Nation™, a thriving network of more than 250 third-party solutions through our LaunchPoint™ ecosystem and over 40,000 marketers who share and learn from each other to grow their collective marketing expertise. The result for modern marketers is unprecedented agility and superior results. Headquartered in San Mateo, CA with offices in Europe, Australia and a joint-venture in Japan, Marketo serves as a strategic marketing partner to more than 3,000 large enterprises and fast-growing small companies across a wide variety

of industries. For more information, visit SOLDBYJACLYN.COM


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Goal Setting

HOW TO : Goal Setting

5 ELEMENTS for you or your team


  1. Clairty
    1. specifit
  2. Challenge
    1. Too easy makes it not important
  3. Commitment
    1. Everyone has to be in
    2. If personal- has to be something you want to do
    3. If team- You can have them have a say what they are and how they are going to do it
  4. Feedback
    1. Important for Team
    2. Personal- See measurable timeline
  5. Complex
    1. If too complex break it down


How to Set a Goal

First consider what you want to achieve, and then commit to it.








  1. Set goals that motivate you and write them down to make them feel tangible.
  2. Then plan the steps you must take to realize your goal, and cross off each one as you work through them.

Top-level athletes, successful business-people & achievers in all fields all set goals. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation .

1.focuses your acquisition of knowledge

  1. helps you to organize your time and your resources
  2. Lets you can make the very most of your life.
  3.  You will also raise your self-confidence , as you recognize your own ability and competence in achieving the goals that you’ve set.

5, By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals, and you’ll see forward progress in what might previously have seemed a long pointless grind.


Starting to Set Personal Goals

You set your goals on a number of levels:

  • First you create your “big picture” of what you want to do with your life (or over, say, the next 10 years), and identify the large-scale goals that you want to achieve.
  • Then, you break these down into the smaller and smaller targets that you must hit to reach your lifetime goals.
  • Finally, once you have your plan, you start working on it to achieve these goals.


Step 1: Setting Lifetime Goals

The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your lifetime (or at least, by a significant and distant age in the future). Setting lifetime goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision making.

To give a broad, balanced coverage of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some of the following categories (or in other categories of your own, where these are important to you):

  • Career – What level do you want to reach in your career, or what do you want to achieve?
  • Financial – How much do you want to earn, by what stage? How is this related to your career goals?
  • Education – Is there any knowledge you want to acquire in particular? What information and skills will you need to have in order to achieve other goals?
  • Family – Do you want to be a parent? If so, how are you going to be a good parent? How do you want to be seen by a partner or by members of your extended family?
  • Artistic – Do you want to achieve any artistic goals?
  • Attitude – Is any part of your mindset holding you back? Is there any part of the way that you behave that upsets you? (If so, set a goal to improve your behavior or find a solution to the problem.)
  • Physical – Are there any athletic goals that you want to achieve, or do you want good health deep into old age? What steps are you going to take to achieve this?
  • Pleasure – How do you want to enjoy yourself? (You should ensure that some of your life is for you!)
  • Public Service – Do you want to make the world a better place? If so, how?

Spend some time brainstorming  these things, and then select one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do. Then consider trimming again so that you have a small number of really significant goals that you can focus on.

As you do this, make sure that the goals that you have set are ones that you genuinely want to achieve, not ones that your parents, family, or employers might want. (If you have a partner, you probably want to consider what he or she wants – however, make sure that you also remain true to yourself!)


You may also want to read our article on Personal Mission Statements . Crafting a personal mission statement can help bring your most important goals into sharp focus.

Step 2: Setting Smaller Goals

Once you have set your lifetime goals, set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan.

Then create a one-year plan, six-month plan, and a one-month plan of progressively smaller goals that you should reach to achieve your lifetime goals. Each of these should be based on the previous plan.

Then create a daily To-Do List  of things that you should do today to work towards your lifetime goals.

At an early stage, your smaller goals might be to read books and gather information on the achievement of your higher level goals. This will help you to improve the quality and realism of your goal setting.

Finally review your plans, and make sure that they fit the way in which you want to live your life.


If you feel that you’re not paying enough attention to certain areas of your life, you’ll find our articles on The Wheel of Life  and the Life/Career Rainbow  useful.

Staying on Course

Once you’ve decided on your first set of goals, keep the process going by reviewing and updating your To-Do List on a daily basis.

Periodically review the longer term plans, and modify them to reflect your changing priorities and experience. (A good way of doing this is to schedule regular, repeating reviews using a computer-based diary.)


A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART  mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants (some of which we’ve included in parenthesis), SMART usually stands for:

  • S – Specific (or Significant).
  • M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
  • A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
  • R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
  • T – Time-bound (or Trackable).

For example, instead of having “to sail around the world” as a goal, it’s more powerful to use the SMART goal “To have completed my trip around the world by December 31, 2027.” Obviously, this will only be attainable if a lot of preparation has been completed beforehand!

Further Tips for Setting Your Goals

The following broad guidelines will help you to set effective, achievable goals:

  • State each goal as a positive statement – Express your goals positively – “Execute this technique well” is a much better goal than “Don’t make this stupid mistake.”
  • Be precise: Set precise goals, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you’ll know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
  • Set priorities – When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
  • Write goals down – This crystallizes them and gives them more force.
  • Keep operational goals small – Keep the low-level goals that you’re working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward.
  • Set performance goals, not outcome goals – You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. It can be quite dispiriting to fail to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control!
  • In business, these reasons could be bad business environments or unexpected effects of government policy. In sport, they could include poor judging, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck.
  • If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals, and draw satisfaction from them.
  • Set realistic goals – It’s important to set goals that you can achieve. All sorts of people (for example, employers, parents, media, or society) can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions.
  • It’s also possible to set goals that are too difficult because you might not appreciate either the obstacles in the way, or understand quite how much skill you need to develop to achieve a particular level of performance.

Achieving Goals

When you’ve achieved a goal, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so. Absorb the implications of the goal achievement, and observe the progress that you’ve made towards other goals.

If the goal was a significant one, reward yourself appropriately. All of this helps you build the self-confidence you deserve.

With the experience of having achieved this goal, review the rest of your goal plans:

  • If you achieved the goal too easily, make your next goal harder.
  • If the goal took a dispiriting length of time to achieve, make the next goal a little easier.
  • If you learned something that would lead you to change other goals, do so.
  • If you noticed a deficit in your skills despite achieving the goal, decide whether to set goals to fix this.

Tip 1:

Our article, Golden Rules of Goal Setting , will show you how to set yourself up for success when it comes to your goals. If you’re still having trouble, you might also want to try Backward Goal Setting .

Tip 2:

It’s important to remember that failing to meet goals does not matter much, just as long as you learn from the experience.

Feed lessons you have learned back into the process of setting your next goals. Remember too that your goals will change as time goes on. Adjust them regularly to reflect growth in your knowledge and experience, and if goals do not hold any attraction any longer, consider letting them go.

Example Personal Goals

For her New Year’s Resolution, Susan has decided to think about what she really wants to do with her life.

Her lifetime goals are as follows:

  • Career – “To be managing editor of the magazine that I work for.”
  • Artistic – “To keep working on my illustration skills. Ultimately I want to have my own show in our downtown gallery.”
  • Physical – “To run a marathon.”

Now that Susan has listed her lifetime goals, she then breaks down each one into smaller, more manageable goals.

Let’s take a closer look at how she might break down her lifetime career goal – becoming managing editor of her magazine:

  • Five-year goal: “Become deputy editor.”
  • One-year goal: “Volunteer for projects that the current Managing Editor is heading up.”
  • Six-month goal: “Go back to school and finish my journalism degree.”
  • One-month goal: “Talk to the current managing editor to determine what skills are needed to do the job.”
  • One-week goal: “Book the meeting with the Managing Editor.”

As you can see from this example, breaking big goals down into smaller, more manageable goals makes it far easier to see how the goal will get accomplished.


A good way of getting going with this is to use the Mind Tools Life Plan Workbook. Supported by worksheets and advice, this guides you through a simple 5-step process for setting SMART goals, and for organizing yourself for success.

Key Points

Goal setting is an important method of:

  • Deciding what you want to achieve in your life.
  • Separating what’s important from what’s irrelevant, or a distraction.
  • Motivating yourself.
  • Building your self-confidence, based on successful achievement of goals.

Set your lifetime goals first. Then, set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan. Keep the process going by regularly reviewing and updating your goals. And remember to take time to enjoy the satisfaction of achieving your goals when you do so.

If you don’t already set goals, do so, starting now. As you make this technique part of your life, you’ll find your career accelerating, and you’ll wonder how you did without it!






Golden Rules of Goal Setting

Five Rules to Set Yourself Up for Success

Have you thought about what you want to be doing in five years’ time? Are you clear about what your main objective at work is at the moment? Do you know what you want to have achieved by the end of today?

If you want to succeed, you need to set goals. Without goals you lack focus and direction. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life’s direction; it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding. Think about it: Having a million dollars in the bank is only proof of success if one of your goals is to amass riches. If your goal is to practice acts of charity, then keeping the money for yourself is suddenly contrary to how you would define success.

To accomplish your goals, however, you need to know how to set them. You can’t simply say, “I want” and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve, and ends with a lot of hard work to actually do it. In between there are some very well-defined steps that transcend the specifics of each goal. Knowing these steps will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish.

Here are our five golden rules of goal setting, presented in an article, a video and an infographic.


Learn five techniques for setting effective goals.

The Five Golden Rules

1. Set Goals That Motivate You

When you set goals for yourself, it is important that they motivate you: this means making sure that they are important to you, and that there is value in achieving them. If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, then the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are slim. Motivation is key to achieving goals.

Set goals that relate to the high priorities in your life. Without this type of focus, you can end up with far too many goals, leaving you too little time to devote to each one. Goal achievement requires commitment, so to maximize the likelihood of success, you need to feel a sense of urgency and have an “I must do this” attitude. When you don’t have this, you risk putting off what you need to do to make the goal a reality. This in turn leaves you feeling disappointed and frustrated with yourself, both of which are de-motivating. And you can end up in a very destructive “I can’t do anything or be successful at anything” frame of mind.


To make sure your goal is motivating, write down why it’s valuable and important to you. Ask yourself, “If I were to share my goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?” You can use this motivating value statement to help you if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to actually make the goal happen.

2. Set SMART Goals

You have probably heard of SMART goals  already. But do you always apply the rule? The simple fact is that for goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART. There are many variations of what SMART stands for, but the essence is this – goals should be:

  • Specific.
  • Measurable.
  • Attainable.
  • Relevant.
  • Time Bound.

Set Specific Goals

Your goal must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful because they don’t provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need goals to show you the way. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up.

Set Measurable Goals

Include precise amounts, dates, and so on in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. If your goal is simply defined as “To reduce expenses” how will you know when you have been successful? In one month’s time if you have a 1 percent reduction or in two years’ time when you have a 10 percent reduction? Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you have actually achieved something.

Set Attainable Goals

Make sure that it’s possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will only demoralize yourself and erode your confidence.

However, resist the urge to set goals that are too easy. Accomplishing a goal that you didn’t have to work hard for can be anticlimactic at best, and can also make you fear setting future goals that carry a risk of non-achievement. By setting realistic yet challenging goals, you hit the balance you need. These are the types of goals that require you to “raise the bar” and they bring the greatest personal satisfaction.

Set Relevant Goals

Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. By keeping goals aligned with this, you’ll develop the focus you need to get ahead and do what you want. Set widely scattered and inconsistent goals, and you’ll fritter your time – and your life – away.

Set Time-Bound Goals

You goals must have a deadline. Again, this means that you know when you can celebrate success. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and achievement will come that much quicker.

3. Set Goals in Writing

The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. You have no excuse for forgetting about it. As you write, use the word “will” instead of “would like to” or “might.” For example, “I will reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year,” not “I would like to reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year.” The first goal statement has power and you can “see” yourself reducing expenses, the second lacks passion and gives you an excuse if you get sidetracked.

Tip 1:

Frame your goal statement positively. If you want to improve your retention rates say, “I will hold on to all existing employees for the next quarter” rather than “I will reduce employee turnover.” The first one is motivating; the second one still has a get-out clause “allowing” you to succeed even if some employees leave.

Tip 2:

If you use a To-Do List , make yourself a To-Do List template that has your goals at the top of it. If you use an Action Program , then your goals should be at the top of your Project Catalog.

Post your goals in visible places to remind yourself every day of what it is you intend to do. Put them on your walls, desk, computer monitor, bathroom mirror or refrigerator as a constant reminder. You can even post them in the Mind Tools Club forum, and share them with other members for added motivation.

4. Make an Action Plan

This step is often missed in the process of goal setting. You get so focused on the outcome that you forget to plan all of the steps that are needed along the way. By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you’ll realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal. This is especially important if your goal is big and demanding, or long-term. Read our article on Action Plans  for more on how to do this.

5. Stick With It!

Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity not just a means to an end. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track, and make regular time-slots available to review your goals. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.

Key Points

Goal setting is much more than simply saying you want something to happen. Unless you clearly define exactly what you want and understand why you want it the first place, your odds of success are considerably reduced. By following the Five Golden Rules of Goal Setting you can set goals with confidence and enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with knowing you achieved what you set out to do.

So, what will you decide to accomplish today?