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  • Writer's pictureCassandra Martin-Himmons

How To Use Brainstorming In The Goal Setting Process

When was the last time you achieved a goal?

When you have a goal that you’re trying to achieve, the easiest way to do that is through using a goal setting process. Having a process, helps you to know what you should do to achieve your goal and when, thereby increasing the chance that you’ll actually meet your goal.

How you start your goal setting process can make all of the difference. It helps you to get clear on what you want and sets you up for developing a plan to achieve it. Brainstorming is that beginning that you’re looking for. It’ll help you manage your stress before your stress manages you.

In this post I’ll walk you through how you can brainstorm effectively when you’re trying to figure out what your goals will be. Brainstorming is the first part of my goal setting process which consists of:


Writing Goals Down



When it comes to goal setting, most of you are probably familiar with the traditional forms of brainstorming, which I will cover, but there is another exercise that you can do to help you develop your ideas. Read on for more information on brainstorming and the goal setting process.

Traditional Forms Of Brainstorming

Asking Questions

The purpose of brainstorming is to help you tap into your creative core and uncover the ideas that lay inside. Usually when people are starting the brainstorming process, they begin with a question and that question is usually related to the outcome of what they desire.

Let me give you an example, suppose I’m trying to figure out what I want to do ‘when I grow up.’ I could start my brainstorm by asking questions related to what I desire deep down in my heart of hearts:

If time or money were no object, what would you like to do?

  • Travel the world?

  • Open a restaurant?

  • Become a full-time volunteer?

I could also approach that question by thinking back to my childhood and listing out the activities that I most enjoyed and look for connections in those activities to possible careers.

When you use the traditional method of questioning as part of your brainstorming process, begin with the end in mind and ask the questions that will help illuminate your path. There’s a great book called, 344 Questions by Stefan G. Bucher. That has a ton of questions to help you learn more about yourself which can accelerate your brainstorming process.


Another form of brainstorming – albeit one that takes place over time is journaling. When you journal, you can let your hair down and be free. Free of judgement and second guessing. When you journal, just let it all out and don’t censor yourself. If you are going to brainstorm about a topic related to a goal that you want to achieve, center yourself by contemplating on the topic then write on that very same topic. All thoughts related to the topic are valid. Don’t forget to include your thoughts about the steps that you can take to reach the goal. Over time you can look back on your journaling and see if there are themes that can perhaps provide answers to the questions that you seek or a straight path to your goal.

Mind Mapping

If you’ve never heard of or used a mind map, you’re in for a treat! Mind maps provide a visual way to brainstorm your ideas. Which can make it easier to see your goals and then reach your goals. Mind maps can be as simple or as intricate as you would like. Using the picture above as an example, in the center you write the title of the topic that you plan to brainstorm about which can be your goal. From the center comes ‘branches’ which are the ideas that come out of your primary topic. Group like ideas together and continue until you’ve exhausted all ideas.

Once completed, set your mind map aside. That’s important. It can be one day, a week or more. However long is up to you. When you’re ready, come back to your mind map and look at the ideas to see how they connect and what else comes to mind. It can help you see the linkages between ideas and figure out the steps necessary to reach your goal.

Brain Dump

If you have a lot of things that you wish to accomplish, then that means that you have a lot of goals and more than likely if you have a lot of goals, then you have a lot of thoughts about what path you should take to reach those goals. And having a ton of thoughts rattling around in your brain can sometimes make it difficult to get things done in order to achieve your goals.

So what do you do in that situation?

Try doing a brain dump.

A brain dump allows you to get those thoughts out of your head and onto paper so that you can stop spinning around in circles and achieve your goals. Here’s how to do a brain dump:

  • Find a quiet place with no distractions.

  • Grab a pen and a piece of paper.

  • Write down every thought that comes to your mind particularly as it relates to your goals. Don’t censor yourself.

  • Walk away. This can be for an hour or several days.

  • Come back to what you’ve written and organize your thoughts into goal categories.

  • Take each goal category and write down the steps (both big and small) needed to reach the goal.

The brain dump is a great way of emptying your mind and helping you see all of the things in your head concretely which can help you in the formation of your goals. Which ultimately can help you reach your goals.

Alternative Brainstorm Process

Besides using some of the more traditional means of brainstorming, there’s another way of brainstorming related to reaching your goals. It’s called a values exercise. The thing that’s really cool about this exercise is that it helps you to tie your goals directly to those things that you value most, which is super motivating.

Values Exercise

So, let’s start by defining values. According to Merriam Webster, values are something (such as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable.

That means that values are the things that matter the most to you. They are the very essence of your being. And if your goals are connected to your values, then you have a greater chance of succeeding in reaching your goals.

So how do you figure out what your values are?

First look at the following list of values and write down your top 10:

Don’t think to hard about them, just write.

If there’s something that you value that’s not on the list write it down as well.

Once you’ve listed your top 10 values, take that list and cut it in half, picking your top 5 values from the list of 10. These are the things that matter the most to you and also are the things that your goals should be connected to. So you can develop goals based on your values.

So there you have it. A variety of ways to begin your goal setting process through the use of brainstorming.

Let’s talk, what’s your preferred method of brainstorming? Let me know in the comments section.


Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, wellness coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In


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