Mapping out your journey is big for personal and professional development. Simply taking the time to reflect on your aspirations and set goals is shown to make you 10x more successful.

So, why not use a free moment to take a shortcut to success? Follow these 5 simple steps to set goals that will stick and, with motivation from Apprentice Nation artists, get inspired to achieve big things in 2021.

Krept & Konan speaking on development goals with Apprentice Nation

1. Check your rearview mirror before moving forward

You may feel like it’s too early to look back and learn from your journey so far, but this is the most important step to take before you can make moves.

When you know what you’re about then it’s easy to make moves…”

Ms Banks (Apprentice Nation)

Take a moment to acknowledge your recent wins and what you did to get there. Whether you smashed your personal best, kept up your grades, or simply got up today and made your bed – get comfortable with thanking yourself and feel empowered with the knowledge that you can achieve something everyday, however small or big. 

You can keep revisiting this mindset of positive reflection along the way.

2. Create a positive environment to set your first goal

Your goals will be as successful as the environment they are set in. Clear your mind by getting outside for a few minutes (your creativity boosts 60% when walking!) then set time aside with no distractions. Physically writing down your goals makes you 42% more likely to achieve them, so grab a notebook and pen (Matthews, 2015).

Now, write down your end goal/s. It could be as simple as, “I want to start my career” or “I want to have better interpersonal skills’’. No pressure, just get it onto paper. 

“Have a clear sight and purpose to why you are doing something – it will allow you to overcome hurdles”

Reggie Nelson (Apprentice Nation)

3. Map out actions to get there

Let’s say your big goal is “I want to start my career”, what does success for this goal look like to you? Push yourself, but be realistic with what you can achieve in a set timeframe. Pinpoint anywhere from one to five specific achievable goals to get you there. For our example, we may want to list: create a standout CV, learn industry specific skills, get support from a mentor, and land work experience or a job. 

“Just stay in your own lane and keep pushing…”

Ms Banks (Girls in Power)

Now, you have a clear path to the success of your main goal.

4. Stay results-focused

“It’s about focus and hard work”

RAYE (Apprentice Nation)

With your specific goals, make sure you can measure success for each one by making them actionable and time-bound. This will also give you opportunities to celebrate your efforts!

Let’s take one of our goals: “Get support from a mentor”. How can we action this? Do some research and narrow down to a specific task that helps achieve your main goal. With our example goal we could use Apprentice Nation’s 1-1 Mentor Sessions to find a mentor specific to your career interests. Next, set a time-limit that is realistic for your circumstances. 

With both steps in place, our goal now looks like this: 

Book in one mentor session with a software engineer by March 1st to learn more about the industry and gain tips on applying for jobs. 

Do the same for the remainder of your goals and you’re set!

5. Check-in regularly

Remember what we said about celebrating your wins? This can only be done if your goals are kept in a prominent place for regular reflection. As you work towards each target, use that first big goal that you had your eyes on in step 2 as a compass for your journey. 

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t achieve everything on your roadmap immediately.  Sometimes circumstances change, so don’t be afraid to alter your goal and keep on grinding. 

“Failure is a part of the journey of growth… If you set wildly ambitious goals and you fall just a little bit short, that sounds like a great failure.”

Mark Corbett (Apprentice Nation)

In business, this mapping out of your plan is sometimes called SMART goals. If you want to find out more, head over to the Apprentice Nation Training Hub.


Mark tells us everything you need to know about setting SMART(er) goals.

Is one of your goals this year to kickstart your career? Take your first step by exploring all the exciting apprenticeships on offer with our partners WhiteHat and BT.