Led by Natalie Persaud RPP, MCIP

The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) Blog Series is designed to share key insights from our ELP program with the entirety of our membership. After each program session, we will share key highlights and resources for those interested in delving further into the topic.

During the second module session of ELP, Natalie Persaud RPP, MCIP, worked with participants to understand the importance of mindfulness, self-care in positions of leadership, and how goal setting can be used to drive change. Part one on mindful leadership can be found here, and part two on self care can be found here.

Goal Setting in the New Year

The beginning of a new year comes with a renewed focus on what we want for ourselves. Many people establish ‘resolutions’ or goals, but so many of them fail because the goals themselves are unclear.

During module session 2, Natalie Persaud provided participants with resources to help support goal identification and fulfilment.

Finding your why

“We all set goals, but have we ever put real thought into why we want them in the first place?” asked Natalie.

To start finding their “why”, ELP participants worked through Jim Collin’s concept of The Hedgehog – a tool which helps organizations identify their purpose, an exercise that can be applied at the individual level as well. The exercise begins with participants identifying their passion and the “thing” they are best at in the world. Together, these overlap to identify what drives an individual’s economic engine.

Natalie gave an example of her hedgehog: Her passion is sustainability and her best skill is problem solving. Together, her economic engine is driven by a career in land-use planning. The purpose of the third rung in this model is a product of your passion and best skill. This is where you will be the most successful.


Once an individual is in-tune with their “why”, they can approach identifying their goals with more clarity. Many people are unsuccessful in fulfilling their new year’s resolutions, or their goals in general, because the goal wasn’t clear. To this end, ELP participants learned about the importance of SMART goals.

Specific – What is it exactly? Losing weight is not specific, but setting a goal to lose 20 pounds is.

Measurable – How will you know that you are nearing your goal or that you have achieved it? It doesn’t necessarily have to be numerical. For example, your goal may be to climb Mount Everest. That is measurable. You will know you achieved it when you make it to the top!

Actionable – Are you able to do this? Is your goal within your control? For example, your goal should not be to win the lottery. That is random and not within your realm of control. If your goal is to visit Greece, completely possible, but perhaps not during a global pandemic when crossing borders and travel in general is heavily restricted. Come back to this later but in the meantime, your goal might be to learn Greek.

Realistic or Relevant – Is your goal actually possible? A realistic goal may be to learn a new language, particularly if coupled with the goal of travelling to a new country where that language may be spoken. Unrealistic might be going to outer space. This is more realistic for someone young, starting school, and able to train for it…. Or if you’re a billionaire.

Timely – What’s the deadline? Establishing a date helps us stay on track and gives us benchmarks in order to evaluate how we are doing. If your goal is to be able to run 40km by July, but it’s June and you only have been able to do 5km, perhaps it’s time to adjust the training schedule. Setting benchmark check-ins is a good way to keep your goal in check.

Goals should push the individual. If they’re too easily achieved, they are not challenging enough. “Transformation happens at the edge of our discomfort and beyond it,” concluded Natalie. “We have to be willing to step to that edge and peak over.” In finding a why and setting smart goals, the individual has a better chance of creating meaningful goals for the new year, and for life.’

More Resources


Finding Your Why – Simon Simek

Good to Great – Jim Collins

The Desire Map – Danielle Laporte