Sorry if it’s true. It’s possible you suck at making goals.
Whether you want to find true love, get rich, create an opus, or get in shape, taking the next step and making progress is all about how you define your goals. Before you start on anything, ask yourself what your goal is. And then make sure, for sure, it’s a “good goal”—not a bad goal.
A good goal helps you focus and make progress.
A bad goal does the opposite. It scatters your attention, slows you down, and potentially discourages you completely. It’s like setting up a target and shooting yourself in the foot.
I’ve helped 100’s of people write 1000’s of goals, turning them from bad goals into good goals, and I’ve learned a few things:
Most people suck at making goals; they usually make bad goals that discourage them.
Turning bad goals into good goals makes all the difference in how you focus and make progress.
The practice of making good goals can change your life from kinda crappy to kinda great!
The good news is that basic good goal writing is pretty simple. You can learn how in just a few minutes with the following 4 steps.
Step 1. Write the following words “I want to ____” and complete the sentence. Start with a verb and attach it to an object. As examples, I’ll start with the goals I wrote above: find true love, get rich, create an opus, and get in shape. They are in the right format, verb attached to the object (kind of, “rich” isn’t an object). That’s a good start, but it turns out these are bad goals. They are vague and unmeasurable and set us up for failure. Let’s make them good goals.
Step 2. A good goal is specific. See how the following goals move from vague to specific.
Find true love > Find a travel partner
Get rich > Make more money
Create an opus > Finish my novel
Get in shape > Lose weight
Step 3. A good goal is measurable so you know when you are finished with it. See how these examples make it clear when they are completed.
Find a travel partner > Take a trip with someone I might love
Make more money > Get a raise
Write a novel > Finish the first rough draft of my novel
Lose weight > Lose 15 pounds
Step 4. A good goal is achievable, that you have both the opportunity and the means to complete your goal. If not, then make your goal smaller so you can finish it or change it completely. You need to know yourself, your schedule, your skills, and who will help you. The examples above might be achievable, but if they aren’t, see how making them smaller or changing them still points toward the original vague wish and makes them more achievable.
Take a trip with someone I might love > Ask Carlos to join me in Japan this summer
Get a raise > Ask for a raise after I get my copywriting certificate
Finish the first rough draft of my novel > Clear my November and commit to NaNoWriMo
Lose 15 pounds > Sign up with my brother for the June Tough Mudder
These goals are much better! They are written to help you focus because they are specific, and you’ll know when you’ve crossed the finish line. They help you figure out the next steps and make progress. They are good goals.
Some of you may recognize these steps from my SMART & SEXY Goals Checklist. Becoming ninja in goal writing takes practice. Use the SMART & SEXY Goal Checklist as a guide toward your mastery. Your effort will pay off quickly and for a long time.