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Making A Fresh Start In 2023 ‒ A Guide To Goal Setting

Written by: Martin Cunningham, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


As we enter the new year, many of us are looking for ways to set goals, measure progress, and create lasting change. But with so much advice available on goal setting it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide to goal-setting that will help you review and reflect, develop a strategy over three horizons, assess the internal and external impact of your goals, use SMART objectives for success, and share your goals with your accountability partner.

Strategy Development

Develop a Strategy Over Three Horizons; The most effective way to set goals is by developing a strategy over three horizons:

The long horizon, (10% of your thinking should be on the longer-term or end goal), should include your long-term goals; these are the objectives that you want to achieve in five or more years.

The mid horizon, (20% of your thinking and effort should be on the longer-term or end goal), should include your mid-term goals; these are typically achievable within two or three years for a five-year plan but would stretch to five+ years proportionate to the length of the far horizon, (if the far goal is a long term one, like ten or twenty years).

Finally, the near horizon (70%) should include your short-term goals; these are usually achievable within one year or less. By breaking down your objectives into these three horizons you can ensure that all your goals are realistic and achievable.

We often overestimate what we can accomplish over a short period of time and underestimate what we can achieve over the longer term.

"Most people massively overestimate what they can achieve in a year. But they massively underestimate what they can achieve in five or 10!" ‒ Tony Robbins

Impact Factors

Assess Internal & External Impact; Once you have established your strategy over the three horizons it is important to assess both the internal and external impact of each goal. This can be done using PESTEL analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal) and SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).

Using these frameworks will help you understand how each goal may affect other areas of the business and any external factors that could hinder or support its achievement.


  • Political

  • Economic

  • Social

  • Technological

  • Environmental

  • Legal

PESTEL is a powerful tool for analysing the external factors that can impact your personal and professional development plans. It allows you to identify the potential risks and opportunities associated with the environment around you. By considering these external influences, you can develop strategies for mitigating uncertainty and maximizing growth. (More on that another day)


  • Strengths

  • Weaknesses

  • Opportunities

  • Threats

When it comes to personal and professional development, SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) is a valuable tool for identifying potential opportunities and threats to plan the best course of action. By looking at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats you can gain insight into what areas will benefit from further attention, and plan actions to help you achieve your goals

When beginning your SWOT analysis, it’s important, to be honest with yourself and consider the internal and external factors that could affect progress. Your strengths will help you achieve your goals, while weaknesses are areas of improvement or potential obstacles to success. Opportunities refer to external factors that may help you in pursuing your goals, while threats are any external or internal factors which could hinder progress. [More on that another time]

SMART Objectives

SMART objectives provide a structure for setting measurable targets that can be easily monitored throughout the course of achieving them.

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Attainable

  • Relevant/ Realistic

  • Timely/ Time dependant

When creating any objective, it is important to think about how it fits into each of these criteria to ensure that they are realistic and achievable within a reasonable timeframe

Accountability Partner

While having written objectives is important for them to be achieved, it is also important to share them with someone who can keep you accountable throughout their journey towards completion – this could be a colleague or mentor whom you trust implicitly who will provide support and guidance during times when motivation might be low or challenges seem insurmountable. Sharing your plans with an accountability partner helps ensure that any obstacles encountered along the way become opportunities rather than excuses not to succeed!


With this goal-setting guide, there should be no excuse not to make 2023 count! Whether it’s mapping out how you’re going reach those lofty 10% long-term goals or just ensuring that shorter 70% near-term ones get ticked off before 2024 rolls around – taking the time now to review & reflect before making a fresh start in 2023 will put yourself firmly on track towards whatever success means for you this year!

Good luck!

Follow me on LinkedIn and visit my website for more info!


Martin Cunningham, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

From policing roots to a 20-year Senior Management career, with over 30 years of coaching and mentoring, Martin has seen at first hand the triumph of high achievement and felt the pain and disappointment of getting it wrong and being unsuccessful.

As a senior manager in security and justice sector reform in Afghanistan and the Western Balkans, he coached at General Director and Ministerial level in politically charged situations.

Martin understands what it's like to want more from your challenging career in an uncertain world.

He's learnt the lessons and has the skills to help you make a lasting impact in a fulfilling career while making the world a safer place. Martin knows that until we fully embrace the voices of women we will not achieve the sustainable peace and freedoms we all deserve, it is why he is on a mission to increase the meaningful participation of women and men who share this mission who are working in Security and Justice Sector Reform countries in or emerging from conflict.



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