Last week we looked at the six basic steps of the project management life cycle:Project management life cycle

In this post will talk about the first step, setting goals.

This is harder than it looks. Defining the right goals is foundational for staying on track for the rest of the year. It necessarily involves a lot of reflection and soul searching. Take some time to think in detail about what exactly you both need and want to accomplish, be or do.

Many of you may have heard of the SMART criteria for setting goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely). There is a reason so many people refer to this acronym when discussing goals: it works. I’d also like to go out on a limb and suggest that one criterion is more critical than the rest: relevance. I call this the “what gets you out of bed in the morning” criterion. For some folks, this may be a financial target; for others, it may be achieving a certain amount of creative recognition. Whatever it is, relevance is important because if your goals are relevant and resonate deeply with your personal values, they will keep you motivated and focused when the going gets rough.


When it comes to setting goals, don’t overdo it. Each goal will give rise to several projects. As a rule of thumb, I try to limit my goals to a maximum of five per year. I advise doing this in several sittings, rather than all at once.

Do you already have some goals for 2013? Are they SMART? If you feel like sharing, leave them in the comments below.