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Why Traditional Goal Setting Doesn’t Work (And What To Do Instead)

Written by: Marina Jankovic, 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.


It’s the time of year where many people are setting goals, trying to do better than or achieve more than they did last year. But why do most of those goals become abandoned by the end of January?

3 reasons traditional goal setting doesn’t work

1. We set a goal in isolation without taking a holistic approach

Health, relationships, career, finances, personal growth etc., are interconnected areas of life. But often, we fail to see how one aspect of our life influences others. Instead, we focus on a goal in isolation and give up when we realise its complexity.

2. We don’t look deeper into our WHY

The results we achieve will only be sustainable if we look deeper into our WHY. If we don’t see the purpose of our actions, our motivation will shrink and, again, we will give up on our goals.

3. We fail to see that there is more than one way to achieve what we want

Sometimes things are outside of control, or we feel like planning doesn’t make any sense. The last two years had proved even more complicated when we had to abandon our plans due to covid restrictions. Yes, some dreams are meant to die. But when we have a sense of direction and know what matters most, most likely there is a different way to get from A to B.

The BIRA goal-setting process

To address these most common challenges and set goals that you will finally achieve, I suggest following the BIRA goal-setting process.

The purpose of the BIRA goal-setting process is to help you:

  • Gain clarity on the unhelpful beliefs and replace them with EMPOWERING BELIEFS.

  • Understand WHAT you want in every area of your life.

  • Get connected to WHY you want to achieve your goals.

  • Develop a plan of purposeful action for HOW to achieve those goals.

The BIRA Goal-Setting Process consists of four layers: Belief, Ideal state, Reason, Action. Here is an explanation of each layer of the BIRA goal-setting process, with the questions I suggest you start answering. Take one area of life and go through the BIRA Process:

BELIEF – What do you believe?

  • What deeply held beliefs are shaping your behaviours?

  • Are your thoughts empowering?

  • Do they propel you forward or hold you back?

IDEAL STATE – What do you want?

  • How do you want this area of your life to feel?

  • What do you want it to look like?

  • If your life was exactly how you wanted it to be in that category, what would it consist of? Are you setting the bar high enough?

REASON – Why do you want it?

  • What empowers you to take action?

  • What motivates you to achieve your ideal state?

  • What you’ll gain when you achieve it? What you’ll lose if you don’t?

NB: WHY you want to make the most out of this area of your life will determine whether you actually achieve it. When your reason is strong, you’ll do whatever it takes to achieve your goal.

ACTION – What will you do to achieve it?

  • How will you bring your ideal state into reality?

  • What kind of positive habits, attitudes and action steps will you implement?

  • Where are you now compared to where you want to be?

The key is to write down the steps you can take, no matter how small, to start moving you towards achieving your goals and living the life you want.


Taking a more holistic approach to goal setting, rather than focusing on a single goal, and working in each interconnected area of your life, is the key to achieving your dreams. In addition, conscious and continuous improvement counts for a lot in the long run. More about building new habits in my next article.

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


Marina Jankovic, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Marina Jankovic is a Master Coach and DE&I Leader with 17 years of international experience in Business Management, Learning & Development and Executive Education. She has managed a Global Talent and Diversity & Inclusion for a company operating in 180 markets and directly contributed to building a more diverse talent pipeline and inclusive culture.

Marina brings psychological depth and a multi-system perspective to her clients and has partnered with numerous private and public sector organisations, both in-house and as a consultant, helping them design and implement experiential learning programs and coaching culture.

Drawing from her own business and talent development experience, along with 3000+ executive coaching hours and hundreds of clients' stories, Marina identifies stepping stones towards creating a more significant impact in business and life.

She is the author of a best-selling book Your Time To Shine, a pearl of practical wisdom for women – and men – to create the lives they want, by choosing courage, leading authentically, and contributing to a better world for the generations to come.



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