Goal Setting For Politicians – and Others

Goal Setting For Politicians – and Others

I was sceptical about the values of Goal Setting.

In my first job I had one of those 80s managers who would bang on about ‘There’s no I in Team’ and ‘making an impact’, whatever that meant. One of his innovations was forcing us all to set personal goals for the coming year – it was a good way of getting us to sign up to impossible objectives and tedious tasks without appearing to be imposing them. Of course, he was always on hand to tell us to be ‘more stretching’.

Several years on, I was feeling somewhat disillusioned and I took refuge in self help books about career progression. They reiterated the importance of goal setting, not as something imposed by managers, teachers or parents but as a way of bringing order and meaning to your life. One quote in particular stayed with me:

If you don’t work towards clear objectives in your life – there are plenty of people who will use your time and effort to help them to work towards theirs.

I decided to give it a go. Setting my own objectives and dreams was much more satisfying and exciting than doing it at someone else’s behest.

And with my aims written on paper, it became much easier to see ways of achieving them. Opportunities had been things that I missed, but now they became things I grasped.

Usually I help politicians who work towards demanding targets but goal setting is so powerful that it can help people in every walk of life – so here are some ways to make New Year resolutions that you will actually value and stick to:


It is worth understanding your strengths before you set goals. Success is much easier if you are working with your own unique skills. You’d rather push a boulder uphill than push it downhill wouldn’t you?

Start with two questions:

First: What are you good at?

This should be an objective assessment, so no cheating!

You need evidence of ability. Perhaps you have won awards or other people have praised your efforts in a particular field. Gather it all together and make a list.

It may be a short list, so perhaps you need to get out and experiment more. Or your friends may not recognise your achievements, in which case you need new friends.

Second: What do you enjoy?

This is the Subjective part. It’s much more fun and may call for a glass or two of wine to help your imagination.

What has given you the greatest pleasure in the past? How would you feel if you could do it every day? It might be something that others would disapprove of but you need to set that aside – these are your dreams and you don’t have to share them or seek permission.

Of course, there will be areas that overlap in the answers to both these questions after all, we tend to enjoy things that we do well. Look for those overlaps, because these are the places where you need to focus your efforts.

Many people live their whole lives without enjoying their work – because they didn’t ask themselves these two questions. The answers will tell you a lot about where you should be going.


So, here are some suggestions for setting your 2020 goals, keeping in mind what you are good at and what you enjoy:

  1. Physical health – do you want to be fitter, to lose weight, perhaps to dress better? Here’s your chance.
  2. Money – are you saving or spending? How can you cut costs and improve your earning potential? If you did have more money, what would you spend it on? Your resources are important because without them your personal choices will be more limited.
  3. Career – do you enjoy your job? Does it use your skills and reward you adequately? Career targets tend to be longer term so the sooner you begin, the better.
  4. Relationships – who have you lost contact with? Who do you enjoy spending time with? Are there some people who bring you down or hold you back? Surround yourself with people who want the best for you in 2020.
  5. Learning – What do you need to know? Would some new skills be useful? Are you still curious? We may get older but we should never stop learning.
  6. Experiences – Is there something you always wanted to do? Somewhere you always wanted to visit? Make this the year when you finally do it – and don’t forget to take lots of pictures so you can look back on it and share the joy.


2020 is going to be a special year in many ways. We have a new government and we will be embarking on new relationships with the rest of the world as we leave the EU. There will be highs and lows but you will be better equipped to spot the opportunities and survive the downturns if you have some clear goals to work towards.

And if you need help with goal setting please do contact us here at the Tory Candidates Network.