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Social Sci LibreTexts

4.5: Case Study- SMART Goals

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  • Page ID 110104

  • Heather Burns, Connie Ogle, & Allyson Valentine
  • Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC)

Case Study: SMART Goals

In the following scenario, meet a fictional student, Melissa, who wants to make improvements in a college class so she writes an effective goal using all of the SMART criteria to do so.

Melissa is taking an anatomy and physiology class which is an important prerequisitie for her nursing degree. The class is challenging, and she's worried about her grade. Melissa knows she needs to earn at least a B in the class to be in good standing for clinical acceptance, but she currently has a low "C" at midterm. She does well in lab quizzes but earned a lower grade on exam #1. Melissa first analyzes her situation in terms of how she has prepared for exam #1, how much time she been reading and studying and how she actually has in terms of her work schedule, family commitments and other classes. Melissa writes the following goal statement:

"By the beginning of week seven of this semester, I will be spending at least one hour per day reviewing the notes I took on the textbook chapters, and I will have scheduled two study sessions with a partner in the tutoring center so that I can earn an 80% or higher on exam #2."

S = earn a certain grade on exam #2

M = one hour per day reviewing notes; two study sessions; 80% of higher

A = Melissa understands the practical lab information but realizes she hasn't been paying enough attention to the textbook.

R = She can spend the time needed based on an analysis of her other commitments.

T = the beginning of week 7

Reflection Questions:

  • How will Melissa know that she achieved her goal?
  • If you were Melissa's friend or classmate, how would you know whether or not she achieved her goal?
  • For parents and families

Coach Education

  • The MoF Player Reflection Tool
  • Child Protection

case study for goal setting

Goal-setting: a case study

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  • How to combat the relative age effect
  • How to set up a small-sided game
  • On safeguarding children
  • Accept no substitutes
  • Anti-coaching, part 3
  • Fun: A national epidemic
  • 10 things you don’t need to play football
  • Play Centre Manager: a new course
  • Play Centres: a better way
  • Ten thoughts on the FA Youth Award
  • It takes a lot of balls to do what we do
  • Governance and revolution
  • Watch your language
  • Do you do teams?
  • Anti-coaching, part 2
  • Anti-coaching, part 1
  • What can we say about a 7 year old footballer?
  • What can we learn from Montessori?
  • We’ve got stuck in “Get stuck in!”
  • Let them play
  • Goal-setting: A case study

Why is a coach called a coach? The internet has a few answers to this question. But one that keeps coming up is that a coach is named after the ‘coachman’ - the person who drove the horse and carriage back in the old days, the person whose responsibility it was to get from A to B.

I like this answer, because it reminds me of one of our most important duties as a coach: To take people from A to B. Whether you are a skills coach, or a team coach, at any level in any sport, it is your duty to progress or develop the people you serve. You are responsible for taking them on a journey. So the big question is therefore: Do you know where you’re taking them?

This case-study follows a team of Under-14 Girls preparing for a National Tournament. It is a team I coached a few years ago. They were an exceptional team because of the level of “team-ness” they performed with. Of all the teams I have ever coached they remain the gold-standard for me in terms of how to support each other on the pitch, how to bring the best out in each other, and how to work together in pursuit of a common goal (i.e. How to get from A to B).

Brief Description of the environment and situation

The team was comprised of a squad of 18 girls, at under-14 age-group level. The girls had been selected to represent their region in the national tournament. Some of the girls played in the same club teams, and about half had played in the national tournament the previous year.

The coaching team comprised of two coaches, myself and an assistant coach. We had worked together before in similar roles. We also had the voluntary services of a psychologist. The psychologist worked in the prison system with young offenders, but had an interest in sports psychology so was keen to be part of the set-up. His football knowledge was scarce but he was expert at getting young people to think about the future and bring direction to their lives.

The National Tournament was a one-week residential tournament for 7 regional teams. The squad for the tournament was finalised 9 weeks prior to the tournament so the process that follows all takes place in that 9 week period.

We had three sessions with the team each week – two trainings and a weekend game. For one of the weekly sessions, we usually spent 30-40 minutes of time in the classroom. The case-study I describe here mainly concentrates on that classroom time. We obviously also had a practical programme for on-field organisation, tactical work, skill development, role understanding etc – but much of this is not relevant to this case-study.

The Process

Step 1: Setting expectations (week 1)

The first thing we did at training was simple: We let the girls play football. We had a group of girls from all different social backgrounds, and playing football was what they all had in common. During this time, the coaching team took a step-back and just observed the general level of play, and the interactions of different groups and individuals.

Classroom session for players and parents/families:

Some general rules and expectations made clear to parents and players: Lateness & absence. Behaviour expectations. Communication through weekly sessions and email to parents.

Our philosophy explained: Equal game time for all. Emphasis on development of players, not winning games. Not everyone playing in favourite positions. Commitment required. Rewards great, a chance to develop toward international age-group football.

[We included parents right from the beginning. They were in the classroom with the children for some sessions. Some weeks we had separate sessions for the parents while the children played, e.g. “How can you support your child?”.]

The pyschologist introduced himself briefly.

Step 2: Creation of a positive learning environment (weeks 1 & 2)

Getting communication started, Forming friendships, Building trust. We tried to do lots of smaller group work during the football sessions. For example, in the warm-ups we divided the girls into groups of 3 or 4 and nominated specific players to lead a dynamic warm-up.  We didn’t worry too much if they didn’t include everything we wanted – we wanted to give them space to lead and be lead by each other.

Small 6v6 games. Scenarios. E.g. One team is 2-0 up but a player down with 15 mins left. Plan your strategy. What do you want to achieve and how will you do it. Play game, and review.

11v11 games against other teams: This started in week 2 and happened every weekend from then on. The important thing here was that the coaching was not loud or instructional. There was no “Shoot!” or “Pass!”. The coaching was all positive with lots of encouragement. There was never a mention of “must-win”.

During this time the psychologist was watching/observing/learning. He was watching the players, and also the coaches.  

Team formation was one of the key things that the coaching team decided on, without consultation with the girls. It was based on the players we had available, and what we thought we could teach best given the time limit. We decided on a 4-3-3 formation. Each position was given a number (e.g number 4 for an anchor midfield) and a set of brief roles/responsibilities for each number were discussed and distributed to all players and parents. (A brief job description for each position with two or three in-possession and two or three out-of-possession duties).

Homework: What do we want to achieve at tournament?

Homework for each player to do at home, with input from parents. The hwk was given to both players and parents together. Coaching team talked through some examples of SMART goal-setting (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time-bound). We gave examples – the most popular among the girls being “This time next year Rodders, we’ll be millionaires!” (from Only Fools and Horses).

Step 3: What do we want to achieve? (week 2)

Classroom session: Outcome goals are set. Session lead by coaches. Players in small groups with A1 paper and some pens.  Then feedback and agreement on a set of Outcome Goals.


  • Win at least 4 games at the tournament
  • Score 10 goals at the tournament
  • Aim to get in the top 3 in the tournament
  • Have at least 2-3 shots on goal each half
  • Developing new friendships in the team
  • Learning new skills from each other and the coaches

Coaches role: Make sure they are SMART.

Parents: Brought into classroom at end of session and presented with Outcome Goals of team.

Coaching  team decide and announce team captain. Captain decision was based on ability to lead others with conviction. Some leaders can lead with humour in a relaxed way, but we wanted someone who would be able to focus on what we wanted to achieve and help make sure we got there.

Homework: What do we need to do well in order to achieve our Outcome Goals?

Homework set in front of parents. Parents asked to contribute to this also.

Step 4: Process Goals: The things we must do well in order to perform well (week 3)

Classroom session: First psychologist-lead session. In small groups and Q&A. The girls came up with an agreed a set of Process Goals (these can be seen in the picture below).

Psychologist really probed into each one of these goals. He asked: What does encouragement look like? What does it sound like? How will we from the sidelines know you are not afraid to try new things? In front of parents: How can your parents help you to achieve these process goals? There was an in-depth discussion and the girls were very open. I think this was a key discussion in the process, and it was one which was partly successful because we had a professional psychologist running it. He knew when to probe further, and what to ask to bring out the details.

The Outcome and Process Goals: emailed to all parents/players. At each classroom session from then on these goals were visible. These goals provided the backbone of everything else we did, and were referred to often.

11v11 game: We got hammered 6-0 by a boys team in the weekly friendly game. I note this because it was the first time the psychologist inputted into the post-game talk. He congratulated the girls on how well they had supported and encouraged each other (one of the process goals). He referred to a situation when the goalkeeper made a mistake and a goal was conceded and one of our defenders picked her up from the floor and patted her on the back. He said that that was what he thought encouragement and support looked like. Key thing: There were lots of negative things in getting hammered 6-0, and the performance was terrible, but the psychologist picked one of the few positive things that happened and highlighted that and nothing else. Importantly, it was something that was directly related to the process goals the girls had set themselves.

case study for goal setting

Step 5: Team-building event (week 4)

As part of process goal setting, girls came up with idea of organising a team-building event. This event was their own idea and completely organised by the captain. They decided to visit the High-Ropes adventure course. The High Ropes team are experts at running team-building events.

I got in touch with the High-Ropes manager and explained who we were and sent them our process goals. They set up an event based on those goals. The girls did a variety of activities based around an adventure course, some in pairs and some in small groups. Each activity was set-up to explore some of the elements of their process goals. This reinforced some of the questions the psychologist had asked them: What does encouragement look like? etc

11v11 game: Coaching team assigned each player two or three possible positions that they may play at tournament (e.g. Libby to play 3 or 5). These were agreed with the player, and communicated to the parent also. This gave everyone a focus on where they were to play, kept parents realistic about what position their daughter would be playing, and gave each player (except goalkeepers) some variety in playing position.

Step 6: Visualising success (week 5)

Classroom session and 11v11 game: Lead by psychologist in the classroom session. He explained what visualisation is, how it works etc. He then lead a visualisation session before the next 11v11 game. This was non-compulsory, and if players wanted to opt out that was fine as long as they didn’t disturb those that wanted to take part. I think all the girls took part.

1.  What could our Mission statement as a team be?

2.  Brain storm all the things that would help make you focused, supported and “centred” in the game and what statement could you find to summarise these things?

case study for goal setting

Step 7: Mission Statement and Keyword (week 6)

Classroom session: Lead by psychologist: Mission Statement and Keyword. This was again small group discussions and Q&A. Again, it was interesting just how open the girls were to new ideas and to talking about how they wanted to play football. They came up with:

Mission statement: To play each game as if it is our last, with passion, flair and intensity

Keyword to use on field for inspiration: Dig Deep

The psychologist laminated a plastic A6 sheet for each player with Process Goals, Mission Statement on (pictured above).

It was about this time that the psychologist started doing some special work with the captain. She had special homework and discussions about how to inspire the players during games, about noticing key points in games when her team-mates needed inspiration, and how different team-mates needed different types of stimulation.

Step 8: Tournament preparation (weeks 7-9)

Classroom session: Nutrition and diet while away from home. One of the key messages here was that different people need amounts of food and sleep than others. If we are going to support each other then we need to look after each other off the pitch as well. Let other people sleep. Help each other eat properly.

Discussion:  We had 18 players in squad, for 11v11 games. We can only make 3 subs. How should we make this fair? Players agreed: Equal game-time. 2 players not in squad for each game, rotate these players each game. Coaches to keep a sheet of game-time for each player, and all players to have roughly equal time. Two players not part of game to record key stats from each half and report at half-time.

Coaching team: Set their own personal goals for what they want to achieve at tournament. Mine was to be consistent and positive at all times, irrespective of the score-line.

Homework: 1 or 2 individual goals for tournament based on the position you are playing

We gave some examples: When playing number 7, get two crosses into the box each half

The psychologist didn’t come to the tournament with us. We had one classroom session per day at tournament, usually in the evening.

First classroom session: Using the individual goals you set for homework, can you turn your individual goal from something that you want to do, into someone you want to be? In my experience it is more powerful to have a goal of ‘being’ than ‘doing’.

For example, we had a very skilful girl playing in centre-midfield. Often the opposition goalkeeper would boot the ball downfield. Our girl was getting in good positions to compete for a header, but she had a habit of pulling out of the header at the last minute and letting the ball bounce just behind her – difficult then for the centre backs to deal with. She had an individual goal “To head the ball from opposition goal-kicks”. I challenged her to change this into a ‘being’ goal instead and she came up with “To be courageous”.  She then shared this goal with the girls who played around her.

The sharing of these individual goals was another key moment in developing the glue that stuck the team together. In the example above, when her team-mates knew that her goal was to be courageous, they all gave her heaps of encouragement when the next opposition goal-kick went up and she got her head underneath it. On the occasion that she failed to head the ball, her team-mates were able to support her also saying “Don’t worry about that one” or “You’ll get the next one”.

This had massive impact on communication on the field. It was positive communication, and it was very supportive. It was also support for a specific thing that each girl was trying to achieve.

Game routine

Pre-game: Dynamic warm-up by captain. Ball warm-up in pairs. Opposed warm-up by coaching team. No complex last-minute instructions or team-talks from the coaches at all.

  • Feedback from 2 players not involved in playing squad. Rotated these players, so everyone had one turn (except GKs). They fed back some key stats: Shots on goal. Positive examples of encouragement, lack of fear (all linked to process goals).
  • Coaches make subs – making a note of game-time for each player and making sure it was going to end equally (this took advance planning rather than spur of the moment decisions in some games).
  • Coaches brief positive feedback on process goals if needed, and highlighting one or two tactical things – very simple feedback maybe to one or two players, or to a unit of players. Complicated things were left until that evening. If there was nothing to say, the coaching team said nothing.
  • Captain and other players could discuss things they felt they needed to.

End of game: Cool-down together (coach lead). Time for players to spend with parents.

Importantly, we treated every game with the same process, regardless of opponent, regardless of half-time score, full-time result. Remember: Coach should not focus on the win/lose. Coach should focus on the agreed process goals.

Classroom session: We looked at specific tactical topics on a couple of occasions, for example we had a problem with over-defending (midfield and defender both marking the same opposition attacker), and we talked about how to deal with this. We went into specifics of what actual communication was needed to remedy the situation: Who would notice it was happening, what would they say/do, to who, and when – and what action would then happen?

Classroom session: Video analysis. Trust had been built up – so coaches could show positive and negative clips of players without players being offended. We always tried to include just as many positives as negatives, and certainly if we showed a player doing something negative then we made sure we also found a clip of the same player doing something positive. The clips and analysis was always related to individual or process goals or to some recent tactical discussion.

Visualisation: We tried this twice at tournament as a group before games. This worked even better once individual goals had been established. It is much easier to picture yourself being creative, being courageous, being focused, being supportive. We also tried visualisation where the players visualise their team-mates doing something positive – eg our central midfielder winning the header.

We had a set of 1-on-1s (coach and player meetings) mid-tournament with the coaches. We used this to give praise and feedback for each player. For most players, a realistic individual longer-term football goal would be selection to national age-group teams, and we gave each player feedback on what we felt they needed to do/be to get to that stage. We had more 1-on-1s at end of tournament (with parents).

Coaches also reviewed their individual goals mid-tournament. I shared mine with my assistant coaches, and also with the team.

De-brief at end of tournament: Go through Outcome Goals – did we achieve what we set out to achieve? With parents.

Summary of key elements

  • Coaching team: Closeness, honesty, defined roles. But one leader.
  • Set expectations, rules, make it clear to all what is expected of them at the beginning
  • Include the parents from start to finish as an integral part of the team – their collective power is awesome
  • Be positive – even when there isn’t much positive around!
  • Set Outcome Goals (SMART). The coach’s role in team sport is to take the team from A to B. Define B at the start of the journey.
  • Set Process Goals – what do we need to well in order to achieve our Outcome Goals? Everything else that follows should be in pursuit of the process goals.
  • Get expert help from outside of the immediate football world if needed. E.g our psychologist and use of High Ropes centre. Be prepared to give away some control for this. Communicate clearly with them about what you want, and be prepared to reinforce what they say to the team (work together)
  • Coaching team make key football decisions: formation and captain. Captain should be chosen as the best person to lead the team in pursuit of their process goals
  • Work with the captain. This is often over-looked in football. We could learn from games like rugby. A powerful captain can inspire a team to punch well above its weight
  • Team Building event:  This needs to link directly to the process goals. Just playing on some high ropes is not in itself a Team-Building event. But if it is directed by what the team set-out to achieve then it can be very worthwhile.
  • Individual Goals – should be focused on who you need to be in order to do something, rather than the doing something itself. They need to be shared. This will give your team a responsibility to each other and a reason to communicate.
  • Visualisation: This works very well, but needs practice. Again it should be linked to particular goals

Outcomes of process

The team achieved all their Outcome Goals. Just. They needed to come back from 2-0 down at half-time in the last game in order to do so. Just as important, they also played true to their Mission Statement – they played each game as if it were their last, with flair, passion and intensity. They were at least twice as intense, noisy, commanding and supportive of each other than any of the other teams they played. By the end of the tournament the coaching team were doing very little at games, and the girls were running the pre-match and half-time processes pretty much by themselves.

It was interesting what happened with their Keyword, Dig Deep. This didn’t really take off for the girls and they didn’t really use it at first. The psychologist said that I shouldn’t start using it as then they would associate it as something from the coaches. He wanted it to be their phrase that they used on the pitch, something that meant something to them. During the tournament they did start using it though, and it was interesting that it changed from “Dig Deep!” to “We Deserve This!” during the last couple of games – when it was voiced loudly by the majority of the team.

Of the 18 girls: One got a scholarship to play in the US, three are age-group internationals at U-20 level, six more are in training squads for age-group international teams. One starred in the full Women’s World Cup squad this year. Two more are internationals in other sports.

During the 9 weeks, all the girls went through a process of setting goals and working as a team to achieve them. This is very useful experience for other things in life – work, relationships, study. The important distinction between what you need to do and who you need to be is important, and I hope this is something that they took away. It gives us the power to re-invent ourselves each day, and not to allow previous poor performances to affect how brave, creative, brilliant we choose to be in our next game (job, meeting, relationship etc).

Back to top

  By Mark Carter, July 2011

Copyright Ministry of Football 2020 - All Rights Reserved

Mark Carter

[email protected]

07772 716 876

Child Protection and Policies

Goal Setting

A case study.

Anne is the team leader of twenty people in the hospitality industry. Her team is a veritable mix of age, demographic and experience and therefore there is no ‘one-size’ fits all when it comes to goal setting amongst her team. A focus item for Anne and her team is to keep improving the customer experience and therefore Anne is looking to set goals that align with this improvement for each of her team members.

Tony is a middle-aged accounts manager and Carrie is a part-time waitress who is also a university student. Both Tony and Carrie are members of Anne’s team aiming to create improvement in customer experience. 

Through collaboration, Tony and Anne agree that an appropriate goal for Tony to strive for would be to improve the language that he uses in his email responses to customers querying their accounts. Using a similar process Carrie and Anne agree that she will aim to improve her memory for regular customers to learn their names and standard orders.

Anne also has another 18 team members that have similar goals that they are focussing on to improve customer satisfaction across the board. deBa is incredibly useful for Anne to record each person’s goals and then to also reference them quickly when needed. During a lunchtime seating, Anne was observing her waitstaff and noticed that Carrie was on shift. After a couple of taps on the deBa app, she is reminded that Carrie is looking to improve her ability to recall regular customers names. Anne sees that Carrie is trying hard and remembers a few regulars’ names and then struggles with a few others. After the lunch rush is over, Anne asks Carrie an open-ended question about how her efforts are going with learning customers names. The question results in a valuable two-way conversation where Anne provides Carrie with some of her tips on how she remembers people’s names whilst also providing Carrie encouragement on her improvement journey.

Within a few seconds, Anne records the conversation in deBa and a valuable moment in the evolution towards a continuous improvement workplace is achieved.

Discover more about deBa

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case study for goal setting

SMART goals case studies

Making goals stick…well before worrying about how to make them stick, step one is to pick a goal, or a set of goals, and make them “SMART” – I mentioned this in my last blog, so let’s get in to an example of this!

Smart goals on stick-it notes

SMART Goal setting Case Study 1:

Joanna, a 38 year old, currently inactive graphic designer, initially came to us with the goal of “getting more fit and staying healthy” which upon further investigation, meant “be able to run 10k.”

Using the acronym SMART for goal setting, this is how we set it up for Joanna:

Specific – learn to run 10k

Measurable – distance: 10k

Action items – Register for a 10k running clinic. Contact friends that are (a) runners (b) other newbies that want to learn (c) set up running schedule in the week for 13 weeks

Realistic – is this goal realistic?  Yes!

Timeline – 13 weeks

Looks simple, right? Right! My favourite principle, KISS!  (Keep it simple, silly!)

Each of the above elements need to consider (a) what is important to you, (b) what’s going on in your world and (c) your personality.  For example, if Joanna had told me that she wanted to run 10k (as a complete beginner) in one month, I may have said that her TIMELINE was not REALISTIC and therefore needs adjustment.

If Joanna had said that she just wanted to learn to run, ANY distance (“oh, I don’t know, 5k…20k…what do you think?”) and didn’t care when she achieved it, it would be important for us to review the pros and cons of different distances, which would determine an appropriate timeline.  Finally, I’d suggested finding an event that puts a deadline on achieving the goal and gives her something to celebrate and be proud of on the day of!

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Are there Case Studies on Goal Setting and Achievement?

Goal setting and achievement are integral components of personal and professional development. They play a crucial role in allowing individuals to define their objectives, create a roadmap for success, and ultimately realize their desired outcomes. To understand the effectiveness and practicality of goal setting, case studies have been conducted to examine real-life examples and experiences. These case studies delve into the strategies, challenges, and outcomes of individuals or organizations that have pursued and achieved their goals, offering valuable insights and lessons for others to learn and apply. In this article, we will explore the existence and relevance of case studies on goal setting and achievement, highlighting their significance in providing practical guidance and inspiration for individuals seeking to achieve their own goals.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Importance of Goal Setting

Goal setting is a fundamental aspect of personal and professional development. It provides a clear direction, enhances motivation, and allows individuals to measure their progress. Whether it’s achieving financial success, improving fitness levels, or excelling in one’s career, setting goals can be a powerful tool for personal growth. However, it is essential to approach goal setting in a strategic and well-informed manner to maximize its effectiveness.

The Science Behind Goal Setting

Psychological research has shed light on the importance of goal setting and its impact on human behavior. The renowned psychologist Edwin A. Locke pioneered the theory of goal-setting. According to Locke, setting specific and challenging goals leads to higher performance compared to vague or easy goals. This theory is widely known as the “goal-setting theory.”

Furthermore, the process of setting goals activates the brain’s reward center. When individuals set and work towards achieving their goals, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and motivation. This neurochemical response reinforces the desire to pursue and accomplish goals, creating a positive cycle of achievement.

Key takeaway: Case studies on goal setting and achievement demonstrate the power and effectiveness of setting clear, challenging, and well-defined goals. These studies highlight the positive impact of goal setting across various domains, including career progression, athletic performance, personal wellness, academic achievement, entrepreneurial success, personal development, and team performance. By adopting effective goal-setting strategies and setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals, individuals can enhance motivation, focus efforts, and increase their chances of success in both personal and professional endeavors.

Case Studies on Goal Setting and Achievement

To gain a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of goal setting, researchers have conducted numerous case studies across various domains. These studies provide valuable insights into the impact of goal setting on individual and organizational performance. Let’s explore some noteworthy case studies:

Key Takeaway: Case studies on goal setting and achievement provide valuable insights into the power of setting clear, challenging, and well-defined goals. These studies highlight the positive impact of goal setting across various domains, including career progression, athletic performance, personal wellness, academic achievement, entrepreneurial success, personal development, and team performance. By setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals, individuals and organizations can enhance their motivation, focus their efforts, and increase their chances of achieving success.

1. The Harvard MBA Study

In a well-known case study conducted by Harvard Business School, researchers followed a group of MBA graduates over a ten-year period to analyze the impact of goal setting on their careers. The study revealed that the 3% of graduates who had clear, written goals and a plan for achieving them outperformed the other 97% in terms of income and overall career satisfaction. This study highlights the power of setting specific goals and formulating strategies to achieve them.

2. The Olympic Athletes Study

Another compelling case study focused on elite athletes competing in the Olympic Games. Researchers discovered that athletes who set clear and challenging goals, along with developing detailed plans and strategies, consistently outperformed their competitors. These findings emphasize the significance of setting ambitious goals and devising a roadmap to success.

3. The Weight Loss Study

Goal setting is not limited to professional or athletic domains; it also plays a crucial role in personal wellness. A study conducted on individuals aiming to lose weight revealed that those who set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals were more successful in their weight loss efforts compared to those who lacked clear objectives. This study showcases the effectiveness of setting well-defined goals in achieving desired outcomes, even in non-professional contexts.

4. The Business Productivity Study

Goal setting also has significant implications for organizational success. In a study examining the impact of goal setting on business productivity, researchers found that companies that established clear objectives and provided employees with a sense of purpose and direction experienced higher levels of productivity and employee satisfaction. This study underscores the importance of aligning individual and organizational goals to drive success.

Key Takeaways

Case studies on goal setting and achievement provide valuable insights into the power of setting clear, challenging, and well-defined goals. These studies highlight the positive impact of goal setting across various domains, including career progression, athletic performance, personal wellness, and organizational productivity.

Understanding the science behind goal setting and learning from real-life examples can inspire individuals to adopt effective goal-setting strategies. By setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals, individuals can enhance their motivation, focus their efforts, and increase their chances of achieving success. So, why wait? Start setting your goals today and embark on a journey towards personal and professional fulfillment.### 5. The Academic Achievement Study

Goal setting is not only applicable to career and personal goals but also to academic pursuits. A study conducted on students aiming to improve their academic performance found that those who set clear and specific goals for their studies, such as achieving a certain GPA or mastering a particular subject, were more likely to succeed. These students exhibited higher levels of motivation, developed effective study strategies, and sought out additional resources and support to reach their goals. This study emphasizes the importance of goal setting in the educational context and its impact on student achievement.

6. The Entrepreneurial Success Study

Entrepreneurs face numerous challenges when starting and growing their businesses. Setting goals becomes crucial in guiding their actions and measuring progress. A study conducted on successful entrepreneurs revealed that those who set ambitious yet attainable goals for their ventures were more likely to achieve long-term success. These entrepreneurs used goal setting as a roadmap to guide their decision-making, prioritize tasks, and stay focused on their vision. This study illustrates how goal setting can be a powerful tool for entrepreneurs in navigating the complexities of the business world.

7. The Personal Development Study

Beyond tangible achievements, goal setting also plays a significant role in personal development and self-improvement. A study conducted on individuals striving for personal growth found that those who set goals related to areas such as emotional intelligence, mindfulness, or personal relationships experienced positive changes in their overall well-being and happiness. These individuals actively engaged in self-reflection, sought out learning opportunities, and took deliberate actions to align their behaviors with their desired personal growth. This study highlights the transformative power of goal setting in fostering self-awareness and facilitating personal development.

8. The Team Performance Study

In addition to individual goals, setting collective goals for teams has been shown to enhance performance and collaboration. A study conducted on teams in various settings, such as sports teams or project teams, found that teams that set specific and challenging goals outperformed those without clear objectives. Setting team goals created a shared sense of purpose, increased motivation, and improved coordination among team members. This study emphasizes the importance of aligning individual goals with team goals to drive overall team performance and success.

Are there case studies available on goal setting and achievement?

Yes, there are numerous case studies available on goal setting and achievement . These case studies showcase how individuals or organizations set goals and how they work towards achieving them. They provide real-life examples of successful goal-setting strategies and highlight the factors that contribute to their achievement. These case studies may cover various areas such as personal development, career growth, business expansion, academic success, or sports achievements, among others.

How can case studies on goal setting and achievement be beneficial?

Case studies on goal setting and achievement offer valuable insights and practical knowledge for individuals and professionals looking to improve their goal-setting skills. By examining the experiences of others, it allows us to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges, strategies, and processes involved in setting and achieving goals. These case studies often provide actionable tips, techniques, and lessons learned that can be applied to our own lives to enhance our chances of success.

Where can I find case studies on goal setting and achievement?

Case studies on goal setting and achievement can be found in various resources. One of the main sources is academic research journals, where scholars and researchers publish their studies on goal setting and achievement. Business and self-help books also often include case studies to illustrate their concepts. Additionally, websites and online platforms dedicated to personal development, productivity, or success may offer case studies as part of their content. Professional conferences and seminars may also feature case studies presented by experts in the field. Libraries or online databases specializing in psychology, management, or personal development literature can also be useful sources.

What can I learn from case studies on goal setting and achievement?

Case studies on goal setting and achievement provide rich insights and observations that can enhance your understanding of effective goal-setting strategies. They can teach you about the importance of setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals, as well as the significance of creating action plans and building strategies for overcoming obstacles. Moreover, you may learn about the power of motivation, perseverance, and adaptability in the face of challenges while pursuing your goals. These studies often highlight the role of self-discipline, accountability, and effective time management in achieving meaningful results.

Can case studies on goal setting be applied to different areas of life?

Certainly! While case studies on goal setting and achievement may focus on specific areas like business or sports, the principles and techniques they demonstrate are often applicable to various aspects of life. The strategies and lessons learned from successful goal achievers can be adapted and implemented in personal life, academics, relationships, health, hobbies, or any endeavor where setting and achieving goals are relevant. The fundamental concepts such as goal clarity, planning, tracking progress, and staying motivated can be universally applied to strive for success in different areas.

Are case studies on goal setting and achievement always successful?

Not every case study on goal setting and achievement guarantees success. Case studies often showcase successful outcomes to demonstrate effective strategies, but they may also include examples of failures or setbacks. These failures can provide valuable lessons on what did not work and how to avoid common pitfalls. Remember that success in goal setting varies among individuals and circumstances. It is crucial to approach case studies with a critical mindset, extracting insights that can be applied to your own unique goals and adapting the strategies to suit your specific context.

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Goal Achievement Case Studies For Life Coaches 

By Wendy Buckingham

Page Summary

These goal achievement case studies show some of the more subtle and creative strategies I have used to guide guide clients and overcome the things that got in the way of their successful goal planning.

* Of course names have been changed to protect the client's confidentiality and privacy.

Quick Links

1. Amelia's tug or war goals

2. Jack's forgotten goal

3. Phillipa's "shoulding" stress

4. Tools for Goal Achieving Success 

FYI: I may receive commissions at no cost to you. Please see my affiliate disclosure for more.

Amelia's Goals Were Doing A Tug-O-War

Dogs doing a tug-o-war to demonstrate unaligned goals.

Amelia was 34 when she came to me for coaching around her goals.  

She loved to travel and her career goal was to be National Sales Manager for her company that it would involve a lot of interstate and overseas travel and being away from home for days, even weeks, at a time.

The other big goal she shared with me was that she and her partner intended to have started a family by the time she was 35.

You guessed it! The goals were not compatible but each going in a different direction. 

The result was that Amelia never seemed to have the real motivation and drive she needed to achieve her career goal and it was never quite the right time to start a family. 

Coaching Breakthrough: Amelia realised what was causing the stalemate in her life. 

Amelia came to realise that if she kept going this way - being pulled in two directions by conflicting goals - her career goal would stall and having a family could become one of those "some-day" goals that might never happen.

I asked her:  "What in your heart of hearts, do you really want the most? Your career/travel goal or starting a family? If you had to let one of these goals go, which would it be."  Starting a family easily won out as the priority.

She chose to reorganise her career goal to something just as stimulating and rewarding but without the travel component and more flexible to her as a parent. Her love of overseas travel could now be satisfied by family vacations.

When you are coaching a client on goal achievement make make sure their goals align and do not conflict with each other. 

Jack Never Celebrated His Achievements

Fireworks celebrating goal achievement

Jack, a successful lawyer, came to a Goals Clinic I was facilitating.

When I asked the participants to share their achieved goals, Jack gloomily said he couldn’t think of any goals he had achieved to share with the group.

I knew he must have a law degree, so in the break I asked him if he had every really acknowledged achieving this degree and all the hard work it took.

Jack told me that he had studied long and hard at university with the goal to get his law degree first time around.

The he revealed that when he passed with honours, he did not really acknowledge himself or celebrate his success. After all, it was only what was expected of him by his high achieving family.

Rather, Jack immediately put all his energy into finding a position within a law firm and being a success at it. He did well but never felt particularly successful.

Coaching Breakthrough: Jack realised it was time to celebrate

The lights went on for Jack when he saw that he had glossed over this major achievement (as well as several sporting wins we unearthed).

His energy changed and everyone in the workshop could see and feel it. He realised he had had sailed past several other goals without acknowledgement or celebration.

Jack committed to celebrating those lost and forgotten achieved goals by buying a new sound system for his car and a special dinner with his wife.

He was then back in achiever mode in the workshop and ready to set a new goal.

Through coaching, the client may come to recognise goals that have been achieved but just glossed over as they rushed forward to the next expected thing. Getting the client to acknowledge and celebrate those overlooked achievements, invariably results in renewed confidence and motivation.   

Become An Expert Goals Coach

Coach your clients to achieve their goals and learn new life skills with a fresh new approach? In my book Mastering the Art of Goals Coaching  you'll learn how to help your clients ....

Cover of Mastering the Art of Goals Coaching

  • Stop past failed goals and achieved goals they never celebrated from holding them back
  • Choose and set strong and powerful goals
  • Design a personal success strategy to achieve the goal
  • The success secrets of team and partner goals
  • Prioritise, plan and get into effective action
  • Get inspired and stay motivated, even on hard days
  • Unstick stuck goals and get back on track

You can read a summary of the content and purchase  Mastering the Art of Goals Coaching  

Phillipa Goal To Write A book Was Stuck 

Goal planning and why you shouldn't have a "should "goal.

Phillipa came to me for coaching because her goal to write about her amazing life had stalled and she was finding it a chore.  She was quite enthusiastic in the beginning but it never really flowed and her efforts soon diminished to a trickle of words.

Everybody in her circle said she  should  write a book because she had so much information and wisdom to share.  They convinced her that with such a fascinating story to tell, it was what she felt she  should  do at her time of life.

She felt terrible about it all. People kept asking her "How’s the book coming on?" So she forced herself to keep going, convinced it was something she had to finish.

Coaching Breakthrough: A "Should" is not an authentic goal

The truth that came out with my coaching was that Phillipa had never really wanted to write a book! She felt no burning need to put it all out there. Her goal was based on other people’s opinions and expectations.

When she came to see this, she made the choice not to continue writing, let the goal go and not try live up to other people's expectations. She was proud of, and comfortable with that decision .

Make sure your goals are authentic and not "shoulds"

The thing to be learned from Phillipa's experience is to make sure your client's goals are what they really want and not something you or other people think they  should  do.  They need to "own" the goal completely.    

I hope you have found these client case studies useful. As you can see there is far more to goal success that simply setting and planning.  

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Mastering The Art of Goals Coaching

Everything about coaching your clients to achieve their goals is in Mastering The Art of Goals Coaching

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These real career coaching case studies reflect how Wendy Buckingham supported her career-focussed clients to achieve their goals.

Actual Career Coaching Case Studies To Learn From

These real career coaching case studies reflect how Wendy Buckingham supported her career-focussed clients to achieve their goals.

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Wendy Buckingham is a life coach with 20+ years experience. Her professional journey includes journalism, writing, teaching and business and she loves to simplify and educate.


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OKR Case Studies: 5 businesses who successfully Use OKRs

Here is the OKR case studies of five different business who have enhanced their business performance using OKR's.

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Before switching to OKR’s, every company has some sort of fear regarding the impact of this framework to their business.

The best way to help them overcome this fear is by letting them view the case studies of some companies who utilize this methodology in the past to get all the answers of the questions creating troubles in their mind concerning OKR’s.

OKR’s are becoming the most prevalent way for setting and tracking goals because they have the flexibility to implement easily on any team size, either big or small teams.

This methodology has successfully helped a larger number of businesses to become more focused and productive.

We have mentioned the OKR case studies of five different businesses who have improved the performance of their business using OKR’s to help you understand the significance of OKR’s.

Case Study of Sears Holding Company

As many successful organizations are making use of OKR’s. Sears holding company also implemented OKR’s to get the benefits from this excellent framework.

According to Chris Mason, Sr. Director, Strategic Talent Solutions at Sears Holding Company. The company started to use OKR’s in the fall of 2013 to roll out all the 20,000 salaried associates.

After using OKR’s for more than a year, they didn’t find any considerable impact which let them makes some necessary changes. They divide their outbound call center among teams of outbound call agents at different locations and put their focus on the add-on sales that were measured using a metrics which not only calculate the hourly calls but also hourly sales as well.

OKR Case Studies

The problem with the OKR is that they only launched it for the salaried persons instead of both salaried persons and outbound sales agents.

After resetting their OKR’s, they saw some outstanding results. They acquire an increment of 8.5% to their sales. Previously, they were having average sales of $14.44 per hour, which were increased to $15.67 after using the OKR’s.

Case Study of Swipely

Swipely, which is now Upserve, also implements OKR’s to handle their workforce effectively. In 2013, when they increased their employees from 30 to 80. They have a lot of activities to do like assigning directives, setting the role of new employees, etc. To get things done without compromising productivity, they make a wise decision and use OKR’s.

The CEO of Upserve , Angus Davis, knows that he has to do something special to ensure that he keeps everyone aligned together. That’s why he choose OKR’s because he recognizes that OKR’s are better than goal setting software’s.

OKR Case Studies

They create OKR’s with high-level objectives that contain detailed description regarding the objective. They link these objectives with three to five key results to help them achieve these goals.

The best thing they do is they make these OKR’s public so that every employee can view what his co-worker is doing. Before implementing OKR’s, they give feedback to employees only on performance review. But after implementing OKR’s , they update feedbacks regularly, which boost the dialogue among employees and management.

The OKR framework helped them a lot, and they hit a record sales of $1 billion.

Case Study of Google

Successful company like Google also use OKR’s since 1999 because it helps them convert them from a company of 40 employees to 60,000 employees.

Google is using OKR’s framework for a long time because they get remarkable results from it. They set ambitious objectives and grade their key results on a scale with 0-1.0 by the end of each quarter.

OKR Case Studies

Google also doesn’t consider low grade OKR’s a bad thing because they believe that these OKR’s are used as data for the OKR’s of next quarter.

Case Study of LinkedIn

LinkedIn also makes use of OKR’s. This Outstand framework helps them become a $20 billion company in a limited time.

The CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner, believes that it is the responsibility of a business to provide clear directions to its leader because the best destinations need clear vision and mission.

According to Weiner, a good leader can lift the entire team using coaching, providing strategy, defining clear objectives, and measured results. He believes that OKR’s is something that should be achieved in a limited time and motivates the entire team to set goals that are challenging. He prefers that the quantity of OKR’s should be between 3 to 5 in a quarter.

OKR Case Studies

The idea of these meetings is to keep himself updated regarding how all the employees are working towards the objectives of the business. He involves his employees to share their views regarding the achievements that they have achieved in the previous week to help them stay focused and continue doing all the good work of LinkedIn.

Case Study of Huawei

Huawei, which is one of the largest telecoms companies in the world, gave the old school strategy of KPIs and moved to OKR’s to take their business success to the next level.

Huawei uses the KPI system for tracking the success of their business, but it was not that successful for them. The key reason for that is because in KPIs system they can set goal setting as the starting point and performance evaluation to the endpoint but don’t have the facility to let their employers clearly understand the value of goals.

OKR Case Studies

In 2023, they decided to move on OKR’s because they realize that many organizations used OKR’s to accomplish the objectives of their organization successfully. Using this methodology, they were able to set attainable goals that they achieved in a specific time. It helps them boosts the performance of their business by aligning all the employees so that they can work together on business goals.

Final Thoughts

After going through the OKR case studies of these companies, it’s quite clear that OKR has the capability to drive clarity and accountability. It connects the objectives of the company and team to measurable results. But, relying completely on OKR’s and believing that it will do all the magic is like living in the haven of fools. These companies not only just put all the efforts creating OKR’s but also work hard to get the results associated with their objectives.

So, keep in mind that utilizing OKR software is only the first step towards the path of success. Rest will depend on how well your business implements the OKR’s strategy.

The Benefits of Using a Goal Planner App for Success

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