How to Set Meaningful Goals: The Everest Goal Approach

Reading time: 2 minutes

When it comes to goal-setting, most of us have heard about SMART goals – specific, measurable, attractive, realistic, and time-bound. While this concept is helpful for achieving short-term goals, they may not be effective for setting long-term goals that are truly meaningful.

That’s where the concept of the Everest goal comes in. This alternative goal-setting approach, rooted in positive psychology, can help you find personal or career goals that have intrinsic value and contribute to your long-term vision.

The journey towards a long-term goal can be likened to climbing Mount Everest. Just as no mountaineer can conquer the entire mountain at once, achieving a long-term goal requires reaching many small milestones and setting intermediate goals.

By adopting the Everest goal, your main objective shifts from simply problem-solving to finding inspiration and motivation. The focus is no longer solely on achieving the goal itself, but rather on the journey towards it and the personal growth that results from it. Consequently, your Everest goal need not adhere to the constraints of being SMART, but it should satisfy the following criteria:

  • It is a positive change!
  • It has intrinsic value!
  • It supports your potential and strengths!
  • It gives you energy and motivates you!
  • It brings you closer to your vision!

Setting Your Meaningful Everest Goal

To identify your Everest goal, start by reflecting on your dreams and what is important to you. Imagine your ideal life ten years from now and what you would have achieved. This will help you expand your vision and set your long-term goal. Consider the significant contribution you want to make and what strengths you can leverage to achieve your goal.

Using the Everest Criteria

The Everest criteria are specific guidelines that can help you optimize your goal and make it challenging, meaningful, and inspiring. These criteria include positive change, intrinsic value, realizing potential, contribution, and energy.

By evaluating your goal against these criteria, you can ensure that it aligns with your values and motivates you to take action:

Positive change: What personal dream or desire does your Everest goal represent?

Intrinsic value: In what way is this goal valuable to you?

Realizing potential: Which strengths can be put into action?

Contribution: Does achieving the Everest goal make a contribution?

Energizing: Does this Everest goal motivate and inspire you?

Everest goals can help you unleash your full potential. By breaking down your long-term goal into smaller milestones, you can make progress towards your vision and experience personal growth along the way.


Mangelsdorf, J. (2020), Positive Psychology in Coaching

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