How to Achieve Success by setting Targets and Goals

Posted by martin.parnell |

On Thursday September 4th, one of our local newspapers, the Cochrane Eagle, published my latest monthly article, entitled “How a little support can help you achieve your goal.”                           

In it, I wrote about the importance of setting goals to achieve a desired result. In this case, it was the formation of a Stoney Nakoda Girl’s U-18, volleyball team, made up of young women from the Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley First Nations and their efforts to raise money to take them to the Alberta Indigenous Games, in Edmonton.

To achieve this, founder and Coach Joey Wesley set up a GoFundMe page and contributions were made by a number of groups and individuals including the Nakoda Youth Council, the Rotary Club of Cochrane, Banff Lodging Company and Communitea Café among others. 

On the same day, as my article appearing, I read a piece by Doug Alexander, in the Financial Post, entitled HSBC Wins Title In Canada. It relates to the fact that “HSBC Holdings PLC’s Canadian bank has achieved something most financial firms can only aspire to: gender parity at its upper echelons.” 

This struck a chord with me, as I saw it as an achievement in goal setting, which happens to be the focus of much of my writing. I also include it as an essential part of my workshop sessions, as I feel it’s an integral part of any undertaking if you wish to be successful. 

I mentioned, to my wife, Sue, the coincidence of the two articles coming out, on the same day and she asked me a question “What is the difference between a goal and a target?” This made me pause for thought and led to an interesting discussion about how to define and differentiate the two. 

I refereed to my old friend the Oxford English Dictionary and came to the conclusion that: a goal is “the object of effort or ambition, an aim or desired result” and a target is “something selected as an object of attention or attack”. 

So, the way I interpret the two articles: 

Joey Wesley’s goal was to form a volleyball team and take them to the Alberta Indigenous Games. His targets was to raise enough funds to get them there. 

The goal of Sandra Stuart, Canadian chief executive at HSBC was gender parity, her target “requiring those in middle management and above to ensure their businesses were comprised of at least 30% women”. 

This was no small task and Stuart began putting policies in place more than five years ago, in order to achieve her goal and, in the end, she achieved it by setting specific targets. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t go in to the specifics of those targets, which I’m sure would have proved enlightening, but it does tell us how important the practice proved. 

In the Financial Post article, Alexander quotes Stuart as saying “The game- changer was targets” and goes on to explain that “if you hit them you got a green; if you didn’t hit them you got a red.” She suggests other CEOS should implement the same strategy “I wouldn’t be shy to put the targets in front of your leadership team and I wouldn’t be shy to have the discussion at the board.”

However, as I see it, whether setting a target or a goal, having something to aim at can only help you succeed in your endeavour.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in the fall of 2019. Find out more about Martin at  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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