Goal Setting for Your Year Overseas

Goal Setting for Your Year Overseas

Your year overseas can often be one of the best years of your life. You meet new friends from all over the world, travel far more than you ever did, experience a new culture, learn a language, and develop new skills in a fun and rewarding job. And there is nothing more satisfactory than feeling you’ve accomplished what you wanted after your year is complete!

But goal setting can often be one of the hardest things to complete. We may have clear or rough ideas of what we want to achieve, but putting those ideas down to tangible goals can be quite tough.

Here we detail how you can ensure you make the most of your year overseas by creating actionable goals!

goal setting


Think about why you came overseas in the first place. Was it to save money? To travel? Learn a language? Did you just want to try something new, or grow your confidence? The answer may also be less obvious, you may simply have wanted to achieve something, to say you did a whole year overseas and feel a sense of accomplishment. Having a think about why you took your year overseas will help frame your goal setting process.


Goal setting becomes a lot more meaningful when you write things down, preferably not somewhere where you will never see them again! To visualise and construct the goals into sentences creates accountability. At this point, these would be ideas on why you came here, and there may well be more than one reason. If themes emerge, group them together to narrow down your list of reasons.


If you look online there are many different methods you could use to create your personal goals. But to apply for your year overseas, we’ve listed a few actionable methods you could try:


This method is very popular, and it involves visualising the last step needed to accomplish one of your goals. If your goal is to learn Chinese, that should be an image of you conversing with your Chinese friends, or at the local supermarket, or completing a Chinese book (depending on what will make you feel like you’ve accomplished that goal!).

From there, work backwards until you land on the first step that you would need to take. This should then give you a realistic step by step guide for exactly what’s needed to accomplish your goals. Take it further and set time frames for each of these steps.


Objective & key results are great for those that may have wider goals, such as ‘travel more’, as well as for those that have detailed goals. Write down your goals (or objectives). For each objective, create around 3/4 key results. These are actions that will help you achieve these goals. For example:

Objective: Travel more

Key Result: Visit Hong Kong and Shanghai, Japan and Cambodia

Key Result: Go on two weekend trips every month

Key Result: Go on one solo trip this year

The key results should be tangible actions that you can say ‘yes, I achieved that’, ‘no, I didn’t’, or ‘I partially achieved that’. These key results will ensure you meet your goal of travelling more!

Your objectives could be your yearly objectives, but you could also set monthly or quarterly objectives. If you set shorter timeframes for your OKRs, once you reach the end of that time frame, rate how you did on your key results out of 10. That way, you will know for the next time period whether you set your OKRs too high or too low this time round. For reference, a 6 or 7 is a good score to give yourself, it shows the OKRs were the right level of difficult and achievable.


The SMART system of goal setting is for those that need a more detailed set of goals. It stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive. There are many variations of the SMART method online, here is just one we listed:

Specific – like it says on the can, be specific. The more specific you are with your goals, the easier they will be to achieve and create into tangible actions.

Measurable – how are you going to measure your goals? are you going to put a time frame on them? Or milestones to reach?

Attainable – are you being too ambitious? Breaking goals down into actions will often show you if you are over ambitious or not. This is your reality check. Can you actually achieve these goals during your year overseas? Do you have the time? If you want to blog during your time overseas, is it realistic to set a goal of becoming a full time blogger within that year? Goal setting should always aid your dreams, but they should also make them actionable.

Relevant – the question here is why you want to achieve that goal. Is it really going to lead to your desired outcome?

Time – to truly push yourself, set a timeframe to your actions. The end time frame for your year overseas would be your contract end date, but what about breaking that up into smaller time frames? This will definitely help you if you’re like me, and realise you have 1 month to achieve that goal you once wrote down somewhere a year ago!


So you’ve brainstormed why you are taking your year overseas, and what you want to get out of it. You’ve grouped them into themes, chosen a method of goal setting, and now you have your goal or goals and time frames. You might feel overwhelmed right now! But just remember that you made it all the way out here. You took that leap and want to live in a foreign land for a whole year. And with that bravery, sense of adventure and confidence, you can do this. Good luck!

goal setting

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