© Copyright notice is at the bottom

Setting Better Goals
by Dr. Beverly Potter


Goals should be
have a deadline
be specifically stated
and create a compelling image


Determine how closely the follow goal statement meets the guidelines

POOR: I will stop fighting with people in my department.

This goal statement violates all of the guidelines.  It is negative, stating only what you want to stop doing.  There is no deadline. It is not specific and the image it creates is confusing because you don't know what "not fighting" looks like.

POOR: I will improve my relationships at work.

This goal is stated positively.  However, it violates the other guidelines.  What does an improved relationship look like? How will you recognize it? What will you be doing  when relationships are "improved" are not specified.  Finally, there is no deadline.
BETTER:By the beginning of the year, I will enjoy socializing with
        co-workers during off hours at least once a month.
It is easier to achieve this goal this because you know what to do and when you have done it.  An "improved relationship" has been defined in terms of what you will be doing: "enjoying socializing."

The better goal specifies how much socializing you will do - at least once a month -  and when you will do it - after hours.

Finally, seeing yourself enjoying socializing is more compelling than imagining "not fighting" which is confusing and discomforting and may bring up images of "giving in" or of "taking it."

POOR:I will improve my time management at work by September 1st.

This goal is poorly stated because we don't know the doingof time management.  What you will be doing when you achieve the goal is vague, making it hard to know where to start and difficult to determine if and when the goal has been achieved.

"Time management" can be made more specific if you ask yourself: "What will I be doingwhen I've improved my time management?"

Here are some examples of Better Goals:

BETTER: By January 1 I will be able to satisfactorily complete all
        of my assignments and work at least one hour per day on discretionary projects.

BETTER: By Christmas, I will manage my time in such a way that
        I fly my kite at least two weekday evenings each week.

The goal-state is what you will be doing when you achieve the goal.
Both better goals have deadlines and are specific in describing the goal state.

Both better goals specify what you will be doing - working on discretionary projects and flying your kite - as well as how often - at least one hour per day and two weekday evenings - when you've improved your management of time.

Further, the better goals create a compelling image in your mind (assuming you enjoy working on discretionary projects and kite flying) because a image of you doing something you enjoy draws you toward it like a magnet.

Copyright 2000: Beverly A. Potter. From  High Performance Goal Setting:  Using Intuition to Conceive and Achieve Your Dreams by Dr. Beverly Potter, RONIN.  All Rights Reserved. This file may be downloaded for individual use.    Any other use requires written permission from docpotter.

Back to Burnout Collection Table of Contents