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How to Set Specific Goals

How to Set Specific Goals

How to set specific goals.

The best way to set goals is to answer the following:

  1. What is your goal, stated in general terms?
  2. Specify your goal using numbers.
  3. Specify your goal, using words. (Define all your key terms).
  4. Specify your goal, using a visual image or picture.
  5. Name the feedback measures you will use to keep track of progress.
  6. Name the abilities, (skills, knowledge, information) you need to gain.
  7. Name the resources (money, technology, and human resources) you need to gather.
  8. Name the time deadline.
  9. Check that deadline is reasonable, and NOT over-optimistic.
  10. Write the plan that will get you started on the achievement of your goal.

1. What is the goal, stated in general terms?

State your goal in a single sentence, affirming what it is you want to achieve.

For example: I want to get in good shape.

2. How would you specify the goal, using numbers?

Take the original statement and specify it by quantifying the goal objectively, using numbers.

For example, "In shape means": Losing one stone of body fat and decreasing my waist measurement by four inches.

3. How would you specify the goal, using words? (Define all your key terms).

Take any ambiguous term from the general statement and define its exact meaning.

If your goal was "to live in a nicer place" then write out a full description of what that means to you.

4. How would you specify the goal, using images?

Take the original statement and define it by finding a visual image that conveys a more exact meaning.

5. What feedback measures will you keep track of, to tell you whether you are making progress?

In order to track your progress towards the goal, you need to pick a few key performance indicators, which you will record, and use as feedback.

For example, if you were trying to get in shape, what would you measure? Your waist, your weight, your speed, your caloric intake?

You need to pick which elements you will use to track progress and then decide how you will keep and use that feedback information.

6. What abilities, (skills, knowledge, information) do you need to gain, in order to achieve the goal.

In order to achieve the goal, you will almost certainly have to increase your knowledge and skills. Where will you gain this increase in knowledge. How will you learn, what you need to know?

7. What resources (money, technology, and human resources) do you need to gather?

In order to achieve your goal, you will need additional resources. By what means will you gather these resources? Whose help do you need. You need to make a list of the people whose help you will need to gain.

8. What is the time deadline?

You need to decide by when you intend to achieve the goal. A goal with no deadline becomes almost meaningless. You need to give a sense of urgency to the goal, by naming the date by which it should be completed.

9. Is that deadline reasonable, or overoptimistic?

The goal needs to be reasonable. Not overoptimistic. Decide the deadline by making a logical evaluation of all the available evidence. The deadline is not a guess, and it is not a wish. It is a reasonable estimate.

Name the date.

10. Looking at the answers to the above questions, what is the plan we need to follow, today?

Every goal needs a plan which is capable of achieving it.

A goal without a corresponding practical plan is merely a delusion.

A goal tied to a practical plan is a powerful force for progressive change.

Look at all the information you have gathered by answering the preceding questions and write a detailed written plan. Then start immediately to put the plan into action.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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Further Reading in Goal Setting

  • Achievable Goals
    You are defined by your goals and your goals define you. To realise your goals, you need to ensure that they are both achievable as well as realistic. Do you know the difference between achievable and realistic goals?
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  • How to Set Goals
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  • Eight Part SMART Targets
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  • When to Use the P.D.C.A. Model
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