Goal Setting

Nadolig Llawen bawb!

As we’re coming to the New Year I thought I’d share a bit of soft research I’ve done recently. In our team at work runs a monthly training session and it’s my turn on Tuesday. Given that it’s coming up to New Years, and everyone loves a resolution, I thought I’d run a session on goal setting. I also thought, a lot of people will probably choose to start, or restart, their Welsh language journey, so why not share what I found here?!

Apparently 45% of Americans (143.5million people) make New Years resolutions but only 8% of those succeed (11.4 million) - 92% fail (132 million) (http://thepsychologyofbusiness.com/why-92-of-new-years-resolutions-fail/).

Why is this?

Well what I’ve found is that a lot of people make “outcome goals”:

"I want to learn Welsh" - learning Welsh being the outcome.

It’s an excellent goal. Problem with this is that it’s easy to become disconnected from the goal. It’s not specific and it’s long-term.

So what can we do to improve this goal?

Firstly we can become connected to our goal. Start by asking yourself why? and repeating this 3 times with a new answer each time.

(hypothetical person below)

I want to learn Welsh
My ancestors came from Wales and I want to feel connected to them
Family history is extremely important to me and I want to feel a part of the continuum
Because as a descendant of immigrants, I feel that understanding where I have come from helps me better understand myself and my ancestors.

(this can go on and on)

This helps us carry-on when the process gets tough, it helps us focus on the meaning of our goals (Ferguson, Y., & Sheldon, K.M. (2010). Should goalstrivers think about ‘why’ or ‘how’ to strive? It depends on their skill level. Motivation and Emotion, 34, 253265.)


We can break our goal into short term goals and processes. Short term goals can be monthly, weekly, daily and even hourly.

So, I want to learn Welsh

Short term goal -
I want to complete level 1 in 4 weeks
I am going to complete 6 lessons this week
I will complete a lesson while I walk the dog this morning (next hour)

When setting short-term goals avoid phrases like “I will learn” - learn is a bit of an ambiguous word. Do you mean memorise? be able to use? understand? etc. Phrases like “I will complete” are better. We know what completing a lesson means. It doesn’t mean being perfect it just means reaching the end of the 30 minutes.

Processes and habits:
I will download the lessons for the coming week every Sunday while I cook the dinner
I will do the day’s lesson while I walk the dog on a Saturday.
I will do the day’s lesson on the commute to work Monday to Friday.

At the end of the first period you might assess your success. You’ve completed the first level. So what’s next towards your goal? Speaking?

New short term goal -

I will join a slack conversation on Wednesday of the first week.

As well as, I will complete level 2…etc. etc.

Following this process will make the journey the enjoyable part. That will become your goal and before you know it you’ll be a Welsh speaker (according to the above plan by the first Wednesday in February!!!).

I hope this helps. If you want anymore info, let me know. I’ll be happy to share where I got my info from.

Dolig Llawen eto bawb :slight_smile:


Great advice here - processes are much more powerful than outcomes… :slight_smile: :star: :star2:


For the last few years I’ve had a lot of success with setting the goal of working on Welsh in some way for a certain number of hours during the year. (Speaking, listening, reading and writing all counted towards the total.)

Although I’m retired, I can’t commit to a set length of time per day or even week, but I worked on averaging 45 minutes per day. It probably won’t work for everyone, but if you’re the geeky sort of person who likes keeping spreadsheets, it’s a good way of setting goals when you’re beyond the basic learning stage but want to keep on improving.

I also added in other clear goals such as: Attend the Welsh class every week, go to the Wednesday morning chats.


Averaging 45 minutes sounds like a really good example process goal. It’s a behaviour that’s going to stick with you.


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Thanks, Anthony. This is really interesting and although I never set New Year’s resolutions (they’re too seasonal and I forget all about them come February), I’m going to try it on one or two goals that are constantly skirting out of my reach. It’s committing consistently to processes and habits after setting them that is my problem. Perhaps spending some time on the first part of the exercise will help. Seeing it written down like that, it seems obvious that I should ask myself why I’m setting a goal, and strange that I haven’t done it before.

As far as Welsh goes, something happened to me after I took some advice a little too seriously, and I’ve not only abandoned lessons, but I’ve stopped setting myself goals altogether in relation to learning and speaking. So far, it’s a bit hit and miss, and I might have just stopped moving forward altogether, but I do think that the conversations I have in Welsh are less stressful than they were six months ago, and all the things I do in Welsh are things that I really enjoy. Of course, I won’t know whether I’ve made the right decision until a few years’ time!

Perhaps I’ll go through the above exercises in relation to Welsh speaking too, and see if I’m still happy afterwards with not having a goal, and whether there’s anything specifically I want to achieve.



I have experienced the same with Welsh. I’ve stopped putting goals on it and just roll with it. I’m sure if I’d carried on actively learning my vocabulary would have grown but I’d have been quite stressed about it.

The “whys” works really well for picking between what’s important and what isn’t. Some goals that we don’t achieve are because it’s not a goal we really want to achieve. We have no why.

Enjoy your goal setting!!


Are you listening to plenty of Radio Cymru? If not, you might well find Beca’s advanced content a valuable regular nudge in the right direction… :slight_smile:

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Oh dear. I am listening to Radio Cymru, yes, and I have tried Beca’s advanced content, which I can see the value of. However, with both (and this is absolutely not a criticism of the content, it’s just to do with the way my head works and the fact that I find myself less and less able to single-task), I find that I tend to drift off and think about other things, and after fifteen minutes or so I realise haven’t been listening at all. I will, however, have worked out something that’s been bothering me, or made up a poem, or had a conversation on my own in Welsh, so the time isn’t wasted (though other people might think so). It’s just not want I set out for it to be.

I don’t know why this is. It’s not a general inability to concentrate because I can stay absorbed in something for hours. I think I’ve developed a habit of trying to do too many things at once, and now it doesn’t feel right to ‘just’ sit and listen to something. I can listen while doing something else if the listening is in English, because I can take it in naturally without too much concentration, but of course that doesn’t work with Welsh language listening. I think I’ll try again with the advanced content, but set myself a challenge of listening for just fifteen minutes to start with, and see if I can’t build up from there.

Duw, I sound like a spoilt child who wants to play with all the toys at once! :slightly_frowning_face:


That sounds like an excellent approach… :slight_smile:

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And I’ve just done my first challenge. Luckily, it was only just over 16 minutes long! Apart from a brief few seconds where I caught myself reading the side of a sugar packet and wondering why there was salt in it, I managed to stay with it. And it was really interesting! Onwards and upwards…


I can’t really understand this. At what skill level is more important the why, and when the how?

Whatever I learn, I always find the beginning easier, because for me getting a glimpse or a taste of something new, something that I don’t know has a high value by itself.
And also, because from zero to something the results are always very clearly perceivable!

In Welsh, I couldn’t understand anything at all when I heard it spoken or saw a text, and I was not able to put together two words.
Now I do.

For now, I still have challenges to complete - that’s quite an easy goal to set!

And also my end-of-six-months planned trip to Wales at the end of January, with the purpose to try speak as much as possible, that helps keep a bit of pressure and motivation high (while my first trip actually had a different goal, just vaguely related to Welsh language - and everything I learned was a pleasant but mostly accidental side effect!)

But then, what next? It all gets more nebulous and confused, I’m afraid I might get lost among endless possibilities!

In answer to your quote - that’s the name of a research article. It goes into great depth about using how and why. Essentially, at first you’ll need to answer why to maintain the long term focus whilst answering how to progress in the short term.

This is linked to the above. Of course there are endless possibilities but if you honestly ask yourself why you’ll be able to focus on what is more important to you.

Getting lost is about losing sight of what you’re working on. So it actually sounds like you do need to sit down and goal set. Find your short term goals and your processes to avoid getting lost. That doesn’t mean you can’t explore other avenues along the way but allows you to get back on track after the detours.


Oh, for some reason I thought the second sentence was a different quote, not the source (I actually seem to have found the article now, I’m going to read it).

As for the second part, thanks a lot - in fact I’m really bad at setting goals. I have plenty of curiosity, enthusiasm and determination, so people often get the impression I’m very good at achieving things, while especially in the long run…I’m really not!
Let me just sit and ponder a bit. :thinking:

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It sounds like you’re not a completer-finisher. I feel your pain! I bet life’s always interesting, though, isn’t it?!


Yes and yes! It is frustrating, at times, but sure never boring! :wink:

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Thank you for your useful advice. I am looking forward to using Welsh in the community and working through the challenges in Level 2.
Diolch yn fawr iawn


Look at this! We’re 3 of us then. I rather don’t want to mention how many “projects” of all kinds I’ve left opened, including writing of my book (2nd of the series now though) and making the movie out of it. And there are many more languages to be learnt and re-learnt … I want to create music, I want to make videos, I want to 3D model … arrhhhggg! I have endless stream of software to make things possible and to play with but there are not many projects nowdays which are actually finished. Might set priorities first and determine what’s the most “important” (although not even one project except learning Welsh is that important though) and then only start with “whys” of all kinds … Might find too many “becauses” while asking my “whys” though and will get lost in them again. :slight_smile:

Yes … to many interesting things to take part in and … I love toys too @Isata and am eager to play with all at once! :slight_smile:

Oh, and thank you @AnthonyCusack. Even if things you’ve written are actually logical, it’s obvious someone had to write them down so they can really stick into our heads. Diolch!

The problem also is that I want to be not less than at least good with all my projects I want to finish but we can’t be really good with everything though, can we?


If you don’t succeed with your goal or feel you “weren’t good” with something, if you ask “why” you might then be good next time!

Goal setting is not always about succeeding it’s about reflecting on what you’ve achieved. This might not be 100% of your goal but it will be something. So if you don’t succeed always reflect and ask “what have I achieved? How did I achieve that? Why did I not achieve the other bits?”. The. Reset your goal and go again.


Let’s do that and see what happens. Might really go better next time. :slight_smile: One never knows if one doesn’t try so I’ll make a list of opened projects, set priorities and then try to set and reach one (or maximum two) goals at the time.

Anthony you’re golden … this thread already becomes the “helping hand” to not just me but many other people on here I presume.

What about writing our set goals here and report from time to time where we are on the path of acheaving it? I’ll surely return back here when I do this first said thing - setting the list. :slight_smile:

Diolch yn fawr iawn!


Count me in! For Welsh it’s not really about 'finishing" for me now, as much as finding new goals to keep my interest and motivation now that everything is getting more…nebulous (and the “new toy” boost is gone) :wink: