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Treating Personal Goals Like a Professional Goal - How to Project Manage Your Personal Goals

For those of you who set goals at the beginning of the year and, in particular those of you who are using Phoenix Journal Planners, then you will know the importance of spending time reviewing your progress at the end of each quarter, if not more regularly!

How are you progressing towards your goals?

What has worked?

What hasn’t worked so well?

What will your priorities be for the next 3 months?


We tend to set and achieve, more professional goals than we do personal goals.

Would taking a more professional approach to your personal goals make a difference?

This blog explores how:

Set your Annual Objectives

Setting annual objectives does not have to happen in January, however, it is important to ensure that you are looking at your personal goals on a regular basis. Setting goals that you want to achieve in 12 months is a good mid-length range to work towards.

You may have a longer-term direction however it is best to add the detail and plan for the short to a mid-length range of time.

Annual objectives are set in the workplace to encourage employees to work on their professional development. Why wouldn't we also want to invest in our continued personal development in the same way?

The way in which we set professional goals is proven to be successful.

We can use the same approach for setting personal goals.

Write them down, be specific, and make sure they are achievable and that you have set a timescale for when you intend to achieve them.

Accountability partners are great for helping you to stay on track. In a professional environment, this is often a role automatically taken on by your line manager, however, with personal goals you can choose someone to help you stay on track. Consider who you know who would be a good accountability partner. It needs to be someone who you can communicate open and honestly with, and someone who is going to take your goals and progress seriously and drive you forward.

Quarterly Reviews

Once you have set your annual goal you need to start breaking it down, also known as ‘chunking’

Start off by breaking it down into four quarters. This will help you to zoom in and focus on the first set of activities to work on.

The remaining quarters can stay on the back burner. This will help prevent overwhelm and also create flexibility to review the activities should things change over time, which is often the case.

March, June, September and December mark the end of each quarter. If you are reading this blog in one of these months then it is time to be reviewing what you have achieved so far this year and start planning the details for the next quarter.

Are you doing this already?

Most employers ask employees to review their progress quarterly, how many of us do this for our own personal development and growth?

Reviewing our progress on a regular basis helps us to keep track of where we are, and how we are progressing to what, or where, we want to be.

Have you achieved what you wanted to achieve so far?

Would regular reviews of your progress have helped you achieve more?

Do you know what you want to do differently so that you can be even more successful?

Monthly tasks and activities

Once the goal has been ‘chunked’ into quarters you can focus on breaking them down even further into individual tasks and activities.

The smaller the chunk the higher the chance of success. Smaller chunks are much easier to reschedule to help you keep to the planned schedule.

Set tasks and activities to achieve each week. Prioritise certain tasks and where possible diarise the time to complete them rather than just having a ‘to do’ list. Commit the day and time to complete the task so that you know you are on track.

Be specific about what you will need to do, and when. Keep it recorded and in a place where you won’t forget about it!

Use the accountability partner, friend or family member to help you stay on track. Ask them to challenge you in the way that you need them to so that you stay accountable to yourself and your goals.

Resources and training

When setting goals, it is important to consider what resources and training you need to be able to achieve success.

In a business environment, you might look to bring in a subject matter expert or use a mentor, to help you achieve the task ahead. You would look at what resources are needed to meet the deadline and ensure that tasks are completed on time to keep everything else on track.

The same approach can be taken for personal goals. What resources do you need to support you? Using coaches and mentors, as well as support groups, are often key factors to success.

Do you know the smartest way to achieve your goal, or do you need to bring in an expert to help you achieve success?

What internal resources do you need? i.e. resilience, determination, perseverance? What do you already know about yourself and your character, skills and experience that is going to help you to achieve this goal?

Do you need some training to achieve your goal? If the answer is yes then you need to consider training courses or programmes.

All of this requires an investment of time, energy and finances. Does this impact whether or not the goal is achievable, or do you need to review the time frame set, or maybe even the goal itself?

Project manage your goals

Approach personal goals like a project. Goals are very much seen as being in the future and something you work towards, whereas projects are in the present, and being worked upon.

This will help you stay action-focused rather than focusing on a result in the future.

As with project management you can also consider the following points.


What will be the benefits for you when you achieve the goal?

Who else will benefit?

What else will this have a positive impact on?


What risks are likely to arise?

How can you remove, manage and mitigate potential risks?


What will be your milestones and key dates to keep you on track?

Where can you set some mini milestones or check-in points?

Which dates are negotiable, and which are not?

Stakeholder management

Who do you need to support you with this goal?

What do you need to do to get them on board?

What do you need from them to help you to make this happen?

What do they need from you to be able to effectively support you?


Are your goals dependent on anything else that you need to consider?

What or who else may have an impact on your project plans?

What do you not yet know that may have an impact?

Mission, Vision and Values

Most businesses require the objectives to be set in line with the organisation's mission, vision and values. Do you know what yours are?

Do you check if your goals and activities are in line with them? Are your goals helping you to move towards your life vision and is what you are doing in alignment with your values?

Check-in on the goal itself

At each quarter check in to see if anything has changed.

  • Is the goal one that you still want to achieve, or are they goals that you have set because you feel you ‘should’ are they perhaps someone else's goals?

  • Are they goals you are still willing to work for? Are you willing to make sacrifices and changes to achieve success?

If you are experiencing regular procrastination, or you are setting the same goals year after year without making any real progress towards them, then it may be worth checking the goal against your personal mission, vision and values.

If you are struggling to achieve success outside of the workplace, then try transferring the business principles over. Mirror what you do well in your professional life and transfer what works into your personal life.


If you need support then why not book a clarity call to see how Phoenix Coaching can support you to achieve your goals?

If you need support to identify your values, needs and purpose then why not join take a look at the phoenix planner

First published March 2018

Updated and revised Sept 2022

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