Updated: August 27, 2022

10 Best Goal Setting Activities & Ideas for Work in 2023

You found our list of engaging goal setting activities for work.

Goal-setting for work deals with setting clear, quantifiable, and role-specific goals for your staff as an essential part of their job at the organization. In most cases, a manager and their subordinates work together to set employee goals, which consider personal development goals, future job needs, and the availability of resources. Goal setting activities help employees track performance during their stay at your company, review development progress, and recommend any further training or education that may aid these goals.

These exercises are examples of professional development ideas and employee learning best practices. Instructions for these activities often appear in books on training and development.

This article contains:

  • goal setting icebreakers
  • goal setting games
  • goal setting activities for adults
  • goal setting workshop ideas

Let’s get started!

The importance of goal setting

Setting short-term or long-term objectives is critical to your company’s success. Goals are necessary to be a leader in innovation, customer service excellence, and product quality. You can make workplace goal-setting more fun with games and activities.

Goal setting helps create the structure for reaching new heights in your company or profession. Motivating individuals and clarifying where to focus their energy are the two most important aspects of effective objectives. By collaborating to set goals, individuals might feel more invested in the process and take ownership of the project’s outcomes.

Successful businesses lie on a foundation of highly motivated, engaged, and passionate workers. Therefore, employees who feel good about their work and receive proper recognition commit to excellent performance and productivity, which has a favorable impact on the organization’s overall health.

Management in any field should place a high value on fostering a sense of community among its workers. For the most part, encouraging your employees to create growth-oriented development objectives will go a long way toward increasing engagement and motivation at work. To be successful, defining goals for employees must be more than simply a task for managers to do.

Read more about the importance of employee recognition.

List of goal setting activities

Engaging activities help teach participants vital skills such as listening and experimentation. With these goal-setting ideas and activities, you may learn how to create attainable objectives, make amendments, prioritize, and analyze the risks of those goals. The following are goal-setting activities to consider at your workplace:

1. Backward goal setting

Backward goal-setting is a workshop activity where participants begin with a large objective and gradually scale it down. First, employees will determine the vision and expected outcomes. Then, participants identify the milestones they will need to accomplish to reach the finish line.

Make sure your team is not only talking logically while creating goals for the larger picture. Humans are emotional beings, and all of our ideas and motivations stem from this emotional realm. Therefore, the goal-setting session should address both the rational and emotional reasons for desiring to accomplish the objectives. The session should also cover what succeeding would mean.

2. Success definition

One of the best goal-setting workshop ideas is to reflect on the simple question, “what does success look like?” This basic question has many possible responses.

This idea is a great way to get every team member on the same page, but it also serves as a good lesson in how success may mean various things to different individuals. Participating in this goal-setting workshop exercise helps dispel assumptions about others and shows how different individuals define success.

3. The ideal day

The ideal day is one of the most effective goal setting activities for adults. With this exercise, you can get participants thinking about the regular tasks and objectives they need to complete. In addition, it is possible to discover the difficulties that are stopping participants from attaining their larger objectives and results by asking them to envision an ideal day.

By discovering these issues, the participants can take steps to delegate or devise solutions by creating a method that addresses the underlying causes of those issues. The participants can identify if the problems are people-based or flaws in the system that require fixing.

The ideal day exercise may focus more on the fundamental goal-setting, but it may help uncover the negative things that appear minor but have a significant influence.

4. The winning lottery ticket

For this activity, you will ask employees what they would do if they win $20 million. For instance, you may want to know if the participants would spend or save the money and their priorities. Five minutes later, tell the employees the winning prize has dropped to $10 million. You can have the employees list the revisions they would want to make and the new priorities they would make. After that, let the participants know that the money has dropped further to $5 million and ask what changes they would make to their goals and priorities.

This activity aims to help participants identify and prioritize their core values and priorities. Having a clear understanding of the company’s core principles can help employees achieve their objectives in the workplace.

5. Review your yesterday

This activity starts with the participants listing ten tasks they accomplished the previous day at work. Afterward, the employees will list the professional milestones they want to reach in the next year. The next step is to have the participants review the two responses. The supervisor will then ask if what the employees accomplished the day before helped them achieve their long-term objectives.

This goal-setting activity shows the impact of using minor objectives to reach a larger goal. If employees want to achieve long-term objectives, their everyday activities align with those objectives. It is critical to evaluate the present situation to establish what has to be changed. Also, you should emphasize the long-term benefits of doing minor but vital activities daily.

6. Ball in the air

Ball in the air is one of the goal setting games you should consider. For this activity, you will need a beach ball or a balloon. The participants will break into two or three smaller groups. A group aims to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible without any participant touching the ball up to twice in a row.

Next, share how many hits the group can get and give them two minutes to devise a strategy to prevent the ball from falling. Then, each group will take turns to hit and note the number of hits they get. There are three attempts for each group, which gives them time to change their approach before each one. The winning team has the most hits in a single attempt.

With this activity, participants learn about the relationship between goal setting and collaboration. The details of a goal are important. Identifying what they can achieve, formulating a plan, and coming up with new ones if they fall short of their objectives are essential components of attaining team goals.

7. One, some, many

You will need paper, markers, a whiteboard, and sticky notes for this activity. The organizer will hand out sticky notes and ask each participant to write down three personal objectives. Participants will form a group of two or three and discuss their personal goals. You can ask the participants to combine similar or identical objectives and create new goals.

All groups should get together to write down their common objectives on the board. Afterward, let the team members work together to sort common or relevant group objectives.

This activity is one of the best goal setting icebreakers, as students learn how to find shared objectives and work together to attain them, even if their goals are not similar.

8. Standing ovation

This activity requires each participant to think about one of their most important objectives. The host can then ask the participants to close their eyes and pretend that they have accomplished their aim. The participants can imagine themselves in front of a crowd praising them. The members can also include as many details as possible to make this scene come alive.

Participants can then open their eyes and write down their goals and the steps that they will take to achieve them. Participants should have ten minutes to jot down the processes that led up to the standing ovation and then move back to the current time.

Team members learn how to create goals backward in this goal setting activity. By beginning with the ultimate goal and then thinking about the lesser objectives leading up to the goal, participants can determine the major milestones to aim for initially. Setting goals backward makes it easier to follow the process and eliminates any ambiguity from using the conventional goal-setting approach.

9. After one year

The “after one year” is another common and successful goal-setting workshop activity. Folks often put off tasks related to long-term goals until later, assuming that they will have more time to finish them later. The result is often stagnancy after a year. Participants can rapidly identify and break down what has to happen each month to realize their desired outcome with this activity.

10. Setting legacy

Legacy is a great goal-setting workshop exercise. Humans are emotional beings, and it is easier to get them to set goals when there is an emotional explanation. Asking participants what legacy they want to set allows them to jot down important tasks that are what to accomplish to feel like they have lived a life worth living. This remarkable exercise will have participants sticking to their objectives even when they lack the motivation to do so.

Goal-setting may help your company’s employees become more invested in their work. You can increase employee engagement, participation, and motivation on the job.

The advantages of goal-setting at work

There are many advantages to implementing goal setting ideas to foster employees’ professional growth. These include:

1. Better retention rate

According to an InStride survey, 94 percent of workers who leave their jobs think they would have stayed if their employer had invested more in employee education. Therefore, a goal-setting approach that promotes skill-building and lifelong learning has the potential to lower employee turnover.

Here are more employee retention techniques.

2. Better employee engagement

Goal setting at work can increase daily work engagement and prompt an improvement in motivation and performance. Talent development can also equip employees to achieve their objectives. Employees who believe they have a purpose in a company are often more committed to their jobs.

Here is a list of employee engagement best practices.

3. An edge over the competition

More than 96 percent of business executives that participated in a poll by InStride feel that investing in employee training provides a competitive advantage. An organization will grow if its goals align with employee goals and skill-building.

You will get greater outcomes and more efficiency out of your efforts if you engage in goal-setting activities. You will be able to spend less time on things that do not work and more time on those that do.

Tips for goal setting activities

You can achieve success with goal setting activities and workshops by considering the following tips:

1. Aim for SMART Goals

Starting with a SMART project goal and target outline for each group member is a good place to begin. You should finish the project outline as a team to ensure that each member is entirely in sync with the rest of the team members and that they understand the overall action plan. The project outline should include the project’s name, creation date, objective, and milestones needed for success.

SMART goals consist of the following elements:

  • Specific: This part means knowing exactly your goals and your responsibilities. You also need to know your role’s importance to the team and how it helps meet the goals.
  • Measurable: You should determine how your team will measure success. For example, include the amount of work done, number of completed projects, and quality of final products. Each member of the team should be aware of the metrics and be able to explain them to the rest of the group.
  • Achievable: You should identify the knowledge and resources required to achieve this goal and whether you have them already. You should think about this while putting together your team, and you should make sure that each member’s skills are in line with the level of experience needed to accomplish success.
  • Relevance: You should know how the goals fit into the big picture.
  • Time-bound: You should also set the deadline for completing the objectives.

SMART framework components work together to create limits and define future stages, identify required resources and determine success indicators.

2. Define the company’s objectives

The firm must have clearly stated objectives for its workers to achieve success and match themselves and future initiatives with the firm’s values. This idea is beyond an evolved mission statement. These objectives will be the foundation of each employee’s professional ambitions, and they will act as the driving force behind all corporate efforts. Teams can only succeed if they have explicit knowledge of the company’s objectives.

3. Prepare for the project’s obstacles

For this assignment, you will be looking at the objective from a larger viewpoint that focuses on preparing your approach to possible hurdles and planning success around them.

The first step is to get every employee on the same page and agree on a goal. The next step is to develop an action plan that identifies each team member’s tasks and assigns them according to their strengths. Next, list all the tools and resources you will need and the ones you already have at your fingertips.

After that, list all the advantages of reaching your objectives. You should consider why the objective is essential and how it relates to the company’s core values before deciding how to attain it. As the last step, think about any potential roadblocks that may occur throughout the project. To overcome each obstacle, you should devise a detailed plan of action.

4. Set challenging but attainable goals

According to a study by Edward Locke, particular objectives that were not unduly difficult but managed to push people resulted in greater performance over 90 percent of the time. You can help your team develop and reach its goal by establishing goals that are both challenging and achievable if they follow the action plan.

As the complexity of a goal increases, the team will naturally get stronger, and they will get rewards for their accomplishment each time they complete it.

5. Create emotional attachments to the team’s objectives

Emotional ties in the workplace can lead to increased productivity and success. Since the firm’s success begins to seem like their own, employees tend to treat the firm with more respect and work harder to make an impact. By building a team that connects with the end goal, you can create an environment where team members commit to the project on a level that extends beyond financial compensation.

6. Consider mutual goals when building a team

This idea is similar to creating an emotional connection to the team’s goals. It is vital to make sure that all team members are on the same page for their professional growth. This step will benefit both individual projects and team projects in the long run. Having a team that understands each other and is working toward the same objectives may help everyone learn from each other and assist each other achieve greater levels of success.


Finally, you can expect significant success rates by clearly stating business and project objectives. Team members also need a chance to establish a clear strategy. By giving your team the necessary resources and working with them to design a personalized action plan, each member will feel included and heard. Employees will also establish a greater connection to the project, encouraging them to face difficulties and surpass expectations.

There are several advantages to emphasizing employee goal setting in your company, from increased employee engagement to greater retention. It is also a great way to show your employees that management cares about their development and commits to helping them enhance their careers.

For more guidance, check out this guide on giving employee feedback and these examples of effective employee coaching.

FAQ: Goal setting activities

Here are some frequently asked questions about goal setting activities.

What are some good goal setting activities for adults?

Some goal setting activities include the ideal day, success definition, and backward goal-setting.

How do you do a goal setting event in the office?

You can plan a goal setting event in the office by setting SMART goals, defining the company’s goals, and planning for potential obstacles.

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People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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