June 5, 2023

Goal Setting to Enhance Resilience

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Creating clearly defined goals is a crucial process for elite athletes. If they are to perform faster, run longer, or jump higher, they need a well-laid-out path. Goal setting helps them to achieve this. 

What is the running pace they need to achieve so they make the race finals? What jump height do they want to surpass in the next high jump competition? Without setting goals, elite athletes would solely rely on the hope that they can achieve their best performance on the day of competition.

However, most of us (unfortunately) are not elite athletes. So what is the importance of goal setting for the rest of us? Surprisingly, goal setting is one of the key variables that can help us to overcome challenging situations and build our resilience. 

Importance of Goal Setting

Kuntz, Malinen, and Näswall1, (2020) identified that employee goal setting is essential to building employee and workplace resilience. Also, the process of regularly monitoring and evaluating one’s progress and making appropriate modifications not only facilitates the development of new behavioural repertoires but also enhances cognitive and emotive aspects, such as self-efficacy and well-being (Sheldon & Elliot2, 1999; Sheldon & Lyubomirsky3, 2006). 

There are evidence that goal attainment results in enhanced well-being because it promotes need-satisfying experiences related to feeling autonomous (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999).

The Becky G story

For one woman, Becky G (The names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of certain individuals), goal setting has played a significant role in her resilience journey. Furthermore, Becky is not an elite athlete. She is the small business owner of a successful marketing agency and lives in Melbourne.

Her history

Becky lost her dad when she was a young adult. What resulted in her was a downward spiral into anxiety and depression. After extensive doctor shopping, and being convinced that she had a physical illness, Becky took some time to come to terms with a mental health diagnosis. 

It is important to come to terms with your struggles
It is important to come to terms with your struggles

Once she acknowledged this was part of her life’s journey, she took action and immediately started goal setting. 

Related Reading  Your Guide to Building Resilience.

Goal setting in life

In explaining how she approached this, Becky states;

“I set myself a goal of running a half marathon and once I’d achieved that I set myself the goal of running it even quicker”


Becky reports that goal setting not only gave her a sense of purpose but also helped her to put one step in front of the other, empowering her to feel she was making progress toward recovery.

Becky’s challenges, however, did not stop there. She recently took a role in what she thought would be her dream job as Marketing Manager of a large company. But soon after starting, she found herself jobless. 

She had always been a high achiever in the workplace and had glowing reports about her performance from previous managers. But in this job, she was bullied and undermined. 

Struggling at work
Struggles at work do not define you

She and her manager mutually agreed to go separate ways at the beginning of the lockdown. Becky found herself without a job. To add to her troubles, Becky’s husband announced that he questioned his commitment to their marriage. 

Speaking to Becky you’d have no idea she had been through so much. She is bubbly, friendly, and open. She still lives with the uncertainty of her relationship status with her husband. However, she knows through goal setting and “knowing what you have control over”, she feels she can tackle anything.

How to set goals to enhance your resilience

Setting goals is a powerful tool that can enhance resilience and propel individuals toward success. Goal setting provides direction, motivation, and a sense of purpose, enabling individuals to navigate challenges with determination and bounce back from setbacks.

Here are some ways to set effective goals that foster personal growth and resilience.

1. Have clear and meaningful goals

It is essential to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Reflect on your values, passions, and aspirations. Identify your long-term objectives. Then, break them down into smaller, manageable goals. A clear vision acts as a compass, guiding your actions and decisions during challenging times, and reinforcing your resilience.

Related Reading  Breaking the Chains: How to Get Rid of Bad Habits

2. Use S.M.A.R.T Goals

S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. When setting goals, ensure they are well-defined, measurable, and realistic. Aligned with your values, and have a specific deadline. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals provides a clear roadmap, and helps track progress. It also boosts motivation and of course, enhances resilience.

3. Divide and Conquer

Break your goals into smaller milestones or stepping stones. Make them more achievable and less overwhelming. Use milestones as checkpoints in your journey. This allows you to celebrate progress and stay motivated. Achieving these smaller milestones boosts confidence, reinforcing your resilience as you move closer to your ultimate goal.

4. Be Flexible

Resilience involves the ability to adapt to change and overcome obstacles. Recognize that circumstances will shift. Unexpected challenges may arise. Be willing to adjust your goals and strategies when necessary, but don’t lose sight of your overall vision. Adaptability allows you to remain resilient and find alternative paths to success.

5. Cheer Up and Be Positive

A positive mindset is vital to resilience. Having a positive outlook helps keep you motivated to overcome self-doubt and setbacks.

Keep a positive outlook in life
Keep a positive outlook in life & celebrate small victories

Focus on lessons learned and growth opportunities. Don’t dwell on failures or obstacles. Celebrate small victories along the way. This reinforces your belief in your ability to overcome challenges and achieve your goals.

6. Create an Action Plan

An action plan is a roadmap that outlines the specific steps to achieve your goals. Break down your goals into actionable tasks and prioritize them. Assign deadlines to each task. Then, monitor your progress regularly. A well-structured action plan provides a sense of direction and progress. It keeps you on track and motivated.

7. Build a support system

Share your goals with trusted friends, family members, or mentors who can provide encouragement, feedback, and accountability. They can offer guidance and help you stay focused and motivated. Having a support system will remind you that you are not alone in your journey.

Related Reading  The Power of Your Personal Resilience

Parting wisdom

Goal setting is a powerful tool that enhances resilience by providing direction, motivation and focus. Remember, resilience is not just about reaching the destination; it’s about the growth, learning, and adaptability that occur along the way.

It’s not a weakness to seek help
It’s not a weakness to seek help, it’s the strongest thing you can do

Bec’s parting advice for anyone going through difficult times is:

Speak to someone, someone neutral so you can get your thought processes out. It’s not a weakness [to seek help], it’s one of the strongest things you can do”.


Lifeology would like to thank Becky for generously sharing her story of resilience. If you would like to know more about goal setting, reach out to us here.

1 Kuntz, J., Malinen, S. and Näswall, K., 2020. Employee Resilience: Directions Forfar Resilience Development.

2 Sheldon, K. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1999). Goal striving, need satisfaction, and longitudinal well-being: The self-concordance model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 482–497.

3 Sheldon, K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). Achieving sustainable gains in happiness: Change your actions, not your circumstances. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 55–86.

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