How Goal Setting Eases Tough Transitions With Strategic Change

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By Roy Faget, MA

The birth of a baby, the start of a new job, the termination of a relationship, becoming an empty nester, selling your home and moving to a new city: these are just a few of the numerous changes life may have in store for us. Change can be scary, but it’s also an inevitable fact of life. Some changes come by choice, while others may take us by surprise.

Either way, life is fluid and change is bound to happen. The best way to embrace life’s changes is to prepare for them through the process of goal setting. Because goals keep us grounded, we can more easily transition to the next stage of life. The following is a list of ways that goal setting can aid us in the change process:

Goals setting gives you a sense of control

Even changes that are made by choice can eventually leave us feeling out of control. Let’s say you’ve chosen to begin a new job in a new state – it sounded fun at the time, but as reality sinks in, the excitement wears off.

Something that you chose, now feels completely out of control.

However, when you set goals in advance, you can create a clear plan. This way, when you begin to question or doubt yourself, you’ll remember why you made the initial decision. For example – is this move to better your career? Remind yourself of all the pros this job has in store. Is this move a result of feeling stagnant at home? Goals can remind you of all the reasons you needed that change. When you set clear goals, and follow through with them, you’ll feel more at ease with your decision.

Goal setting allows you to focus on what’s most important

Setting goals will give you the opportunity to hone in on what in life is most important to you. When you set goals, you’re able to re-focus on the direction you want our life to take. For example, if raising family is your number one priority, many of your goals will be focused toward your spouse and your children. You may set goals about how many kids you want, what age you want to have them, how many years apart you want them to be, etc.

The transition of adding a baby to your life can be scary, especially for new parents. But because of the goals you’ve set, you’ll feel less scared and more prepared for this decision. When the negative aspects of the transition occur, you can rely on your goals to remember that the pros outweigh the cons.

Goal setting ensures that you can move forward productively

Unexpected change is extremely difficult to navigate, but by creating goals, we can better move forward. Grieving the loss of a long-term relationship, for example, is a change that we generally don’t anticipate; however, when we use this as an opportunity to set goals, we can make meaning from this change.

Take time to reflect upon and look back at what went wrong to determine how you can make things better going forward. Your relationship didn’t end out of the blue – determine the defining factors and set goals to ensure you don’t experience the same thing again. These goals can be what you’ll look for in another relationship, or they can be goals centered on what you want to do with your life now that the relationship is over.

Change can elicit a vast array of feelings, all of which are valid. But goal setting can allow you to more better prepare for and manage these feelings. When you set goals, you can feel at ease even when you’re navigating through tough transitions.

Finally, be sure to seek help if you need it, as well. Goals supported and clarified with the objectivity and encouragement of a therapist, will feel that much more solid and achievable.


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Working with individuals and couples during life transitions is a specialty area of counseling practice for RCC Austin counselor, Roy Faget. To schedule an appointment with him, call 512-270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment with him on the Scheduling Page on our website.