Setting Professional Goals as a Therapist

Andrea Bustamante
January 28, 2024

Photo by Alex Green from Pexels.


Many people welcome the new year with a list of resolutions. As a therapist, your resolutions could stem from a desire to achieve better work-life balance, improve services provided, or create a fulfilling career. 

While optimism is high when creating resolutions, 90% of New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned within a few months [1]. This can happen for various reasons, including not creating actionable plans and prioritizing immediate results over habits. 

The good news is that you do not have to wait until next year to make a positive change in your life. Instead of resolutions, set yourself up for success by creating goals.

Set Goals, Not Resolutions

There is a difference between resolutions and goals. While resolutions are general and do not provide a plan for you to reach them, goals are specific in what you want to achieve and how you will achieve it [2].

There are many benefits to setting goals. Goals can provide focus, motivation, and improved performance. Goals also create a roadmap that you can use to address unexpected challenges, make adjustments, and celebrate milestones. 

As a therapists, goal-setting can help you improve your professional and personal life. Positive change starts with creating strong goals.

Choosing Which Goals to Set

One of the challenges with New Year Resolutions is that people set too many at once. When creating goals, reflect on what you want to achieve. Is it something that aligns with your values? Are you willing to set time aside for it now or in the future [3]? Answering these questions will help you narrow down which goals you want to achieve and prevent you from trying to make too many changes at once.

It is also important to identify whether your goal requires short term or long term commitment. Short-term goals can be achieved from within a few days up to a few months while long-term goals usually take more than a year to complete [4]. Long-term goals are often broken into various short-term goals in order to make them more attainable. 

When choosing what you want to accomplish, make sure to challenge yourself. Findings by Edwin A. Locke, an American psychologist and pioneer in goal-setting theory, support that specific and appropriately challenging goals result in higher performance than “easy” goals [5]. 

Now that you have identified what you want to achieve, it is time to write your goals. There are many methods to creating goals, including SMART goals and PACT goal-setting.


This is one of the most popular goal-setting method. SMART goals work for short-term and long-terms goals (which are broken down into various SMART goals), and require planning after the goal is set [6]. 

SMART goals have 5 characteristics:

  1. Specific: Defines what will be accomplished and the actions taken. Answers the who, what, where and why.
  2. Measurable: Has a quantifiable objective that you can measure.
  3. Achievable: You have the tools and knowledge necessary to accomplish the goal.
  4. Relevant: Aligns with your values and needs.
  5. Time-Bound: Has a set deadline [7]. 

For therapists, an example of a professional SMART goal might be:

I will create a therapy homework plan for 3 clients in order to improve client progress. I will set 5 minutes at the end of each session to let the clients choose a date and time for the reminder and schedule it on the platform. I will use the review dashboard to track therapy homework completion and have the client reflect on the therapy homework during the following session. I will do this for the next 3 months.

If writing it down in sentence form is harder, you can break it down into bullet points:

  • Specific: I want to create a therapy homework plan for 3 clients.
  • Measurable: I will use the review dashboard to track therapy homework completion and have the client reflect on the therapy homework during the following session.
  • Achievable: I will set 5 minutes at the end of each session to let the clients choose a date and time for the reminder and schedule it on the platform.
  • Relevant: This will help improve client progress.
  • Time-bound: I will do this at the end of the 3 clients’ sessions for the next 3 months.

PACT Goal-Setting

A second, newer method of goal setting is called PACT. While there is some overlap with SMART goals, PACT works best on long-term goals [6].

 A PACT goal has 5 characteristics:

  1. Purposeful: The goal is relevant to you in the long-term by aligning with your values and passions.
  2. Actionable: You have the tools and knowledge needed to take steps towards this goal.
  3. Continuous: You play an active role by continuously taking steps to reach the goal. PACT allows for learning and experimentation.
  4. Trackable: You can track progress [6].

As a therapist, you can create PACT goals connected to your work environment and career goals. For example, you can use it to improve your work-life balance:

I will improve my work-life balance by decreasing the time spent on deliverables after office hours. I will do this by increasing the number of sessions that start and end on time by 50%. Using, I will schedule automated reminders with the client at the end of each session, reminding them to complete assessments prior to their next session and reminding them about their appointment dates and times I can track this goal using’s review dashboard and my calendar. I will review progress at the end of each month and adjust as needed.

Similar to SMART goals, you can break down a PACT goal into bullet points.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

For both SMART and PACT goals, it is best to have the tools and resources needed to achieve your goals prior to starting. In order to remain focused, you can create smaller SMART goals that outline how you will equip yourself for success. For therapists, you have access to many resources available, including

With, you can assign assessments and therapy homework, send automatic email and text reminders, and track progress all from one platform. If your goals include streamlining therapy, saving time, or engaging your clients in high quality, evidence-based therapy, is for you.

Register for a free account today!


Creating relevant and measurable goals can not only improve focus and performance, but it can also motivate you. Since goal-setting is an ongoing process so, take time to celebrate each milestone and reflect on your journey before moving to the next goal. This year, make a PACT to be SMART with by your side!


[1] Vinney C PhD. The psychology behind why new year’s resolutions fail. Verywell Mind. Published January 2, 2024.

[2] Lintonbon S. Are you Setting Goals or Resolutions ... What’s the Difference Anyway? Medium. Published January 16, 2023.

[3] Lucidchart. The Ultimate Goal Setting Process: 7 Steps to Creating Better goals. Lucidchart. Published June 15, 2020.

[4] Perry E. Long-Term versus Short-Term Goals: What you need to know. BetterUp. Published August 14, 2023.

[5] Mind Tools Content Team. MindTools | Home. Accessed January 17, 2024.

[6] Danit Ianovici, Content Marketing & Communications Manager. SMART or PACT? Setting goals that work for you. vcita. January 2022.

[7] Leonard K, Watts R. The ultimate guide to S.M.A.R.T. goals. Forbes Advisor. Published May 4, 2022.