Before I went through Seth Godin’s altMBA I thought I had goal setting pretty nailed.  How hard can it be, right?  If somebody asked me what I was aiming for either personally or professionally I could easily rhyme off a number of things that I was striving for.  But mostly they were headlines or things that I intuitively thought I should be aiming for.  I had never really taken the time to sit down and apply some slow thinking to goal setting.  To help us on our way Seth (virtually) introduced us to the work of Zig Zigler, his late mentor and a guy who he describes in this post as one of the forefathers of modern day motivational speaking.  Yes, he was from a different time and a bit quirky but the principles of his teaching and the method he evangelized are just as pertinent today as they were back then, maybe more important given the global economy we live in.  It turns out that it was one of the most challenging things I’ve had to do in recent times. Taking time to truly reflect and plan can be a little uncomfortable… particularly if you are being truly honest with yourself.

Zig developed a structure, a range of questions around goal setting which, if applied with honesty and focus, will take your goals to a new level of thinking.  Of course, they won’t guarantee success but they will help you crystallize exactly what you’re aiming for.  Zig’s seven steps of goal setting are priceless.  I recommend allowing yourself to regularly come back to your goal-sheet to continually improve and iterate… in my experience very few people nail this first time and a very many come back to it time and again.

A quick summary of Zig’s seven steps – :

  1. Identify the goal… be specific, write it down clearly
  2. List the benefits – what’s in it for me?
  3. List the obstacles to overcome making a complete list
  4. List the skills and knowledge required
  5. Identify the people and groups to work with
  6. Develop a plan of action… the most critical step
  7. Set a deadline for achievement

If you like this, check out my goal setting canvas inspired by Zig.

Posted by Steven Thomas

Fan of great ideas and (especially) the people that make them work. Steven is the creator of CurveFinder exploring subjects like collaboration, leadership, creative endeavour and personal development. He's spent over two decades working in the UK media industry holding various senior business and creative leadership roles, most recently with a focus on Digital Transformation and Start-ups. Accomplished coach and mentor. Seth Godin's altMBA Alumni. Lives in Edinburgh with his wife and young family. Always in the kitchen at parties.


  1. I’ve never saw this before but you can really see the logic in this approach.


  2. Steven Thomas May 23, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Yes, it’s logical… it takes time to get right though, but worth it.


  3. […] just a beneficial thing to do, it’s utterly essential. I’ve written previously about taking a structured approach to goal setting.  It can be tricky, and you’ll need to re-visit your work regularly.  But it’s worth […]


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *