Goal setting: A concept analysis

Nurs Forum. 2020 Apr;55(2):275-281. doi: 10.1111/nuf.12426. Epub 2020 Jan 4.


The concept of goal setting has been researched and defined throughout different disciplines over the past nine decades. In addition, adjustments to the antecedents, characteristics, and consequences have been made. However, neither a clear concept of goal setting, nor an operational definition is currently available in the literature. The Walker and Avant Concept Analysis approach was the framework for this paper. Articles and book chapters from 2004 to 2018 were reviewed from Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Education Resources Information Center, and Psych Index. Findings suggest that goal setting is a complex process currently researched in different disciplines. Attributes, antecedents, and consequences of goal setting are discussed along with a suggested operational definition. Model and contrary cases are presented to illustrate the concept. Modifications to the antecedents, characteristics, and consequences of goal setting have emerged from the concept. A result of these changes is better understanding with the ability to produce a more accurate and concise definition. The suggested operational definition of goal setting: goal setting is the action of a person who has the confidence, commitment, motivation, and knowledge necessary to attain a goal that is specific, challenging, measurable, and relevant within a specified amount of time.

Keywords: concept analysis; goal setting; nursing.

MeSH terms

  • Concept Formation*
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Motivation