Four Characteristics Of Goals That Work


How To Write Goals

In order to not get into semantics and technicalities, this is the definition of a goal.

Now, let me share with you how to write goals that work. And no, it is not about SMART goals.

Goals must to have the following four characteristics.

Goals Must Be Positive

For years, I’ve struggled with a goal written in the negative language. My goal was: I want to quit smoking. While it is a worthwhile goal, stopping a habit I’ve been doing for years is not only difficult, it also made me feel like I was losing out on something.

Besides, if that very action is something you want to stop, but it is written in the goal, then the odds are significantly against you. It is the same with the “pink elephant” exercise. Fight as hard as you want, but once that “pink elephant” is planted in your mind, you cannot help but keep thinking about it.

So, here’s how I wrote that goal instead. Instead of “I want to quit smoking”, my goal was “I want to be healthy and have full of energy”.

Goals Must Be Measurable

I once set a goal to have $300,000 of funds for investment. I did managed to have that amount of funds for investment, however, the funds were put together from three, including myself, individuals.

And as the funds were not entirely mine, I had to sought the permission of the other two individuals before I could make the investment. Which was an issue for me because it was sometimes difficult to get an unanimous agreement on what to invest.

Goals Must Be Specific

Being specific means leaving no room for ambiguity or vagueness.

So, while my goal of “to have $300,000 of funds for investment” was positive and measurable; it was not specific enough.

I have since changed the goal to: “To have at least $300,000 of my own funds for investment without any encumbrances”.

Goals Must Have Time Limits

A goal without time limit is a dream.

The only exception are goals of the identity. These are lifelong goals, the ones you’ll continually work on till the day you die.

For instance, I have two lifelong goals: to be Christ-like and to be a Creative Influencer. There are no desired state for both goals and as such these are lifelong goals for me.

That said, I do take these lifelong goals are break it down into action items.

Apart from “goals of the identity”, all other goals must have time limits. The way to write goals with time limits is this: “By June 30, 2016, I will have twelve online courses on at least three platforms”. I have the details of what those twelve courses are; I just can’t make it public at this point.

Your Turn…

Action: Check against your own goals and see if they meet the four criteria:

    • Positive
    • Measurable
    • Specific
    • Time Limit