Specifying and Clarifying Your Goals

In the next section, you will be asked to break down your ideal future into 6 goals using the categories listed below. You can re-word, re-write, and re-organize material from Part 1 as needed. You will then pick your top two goals to analyze further.

You will be asked to set goals in the following categories:








1.List your career goal in one sentence here.


2.List your family goal in one sentence here.


3.List your financial goal in one sentence here.


4.List your intellectual goal in one sentence here.


5.List your physical goal in one sentence here.


6.List your social goal in one sentence here.


7.From your list of six, identify your number one goal and list it below; then spend a minute or two writing down your reasons for pursing that goal. You might want to consider issues such as the following:

Do you truly believe that pursuing this goal is important?

Would you feel ashamed, guilty or anxious if you didn’t?

Do you want to achieve this goal personally, or are you doing it to please someone else? (It is often a good thing to do something for someone else, but you should know when you are doing that.)

Are you pursuing this goal because the situation that you find yourself in seems to demand it?

Is the pursuit of this goal enjoyable, stimulating, or satisfying?

Is this goal part of a deeply felt personal dream?




8.You will now be asked to write a short description of how attaining your number one goal would change additional important aspects of your life, and the lives of others.

Goals can have an impact beyond the obvious. Our specific personal goals are connected to larger, more important life goals. These higher-order goals reflect our most important ideals. The specific goal of spending more time studying or reading, for example, is a specific element of the more important goal of being a well-educated person. Achieving other specific goals, such as becoming more assertive, help us to move closer to our ideal self.

How would disciplined success change the way that you see yourself?

How would other parts of your personal life change, in consequence?

How would achievement of this goal affect the way that others perceive you? (You might also consider fears of being successful. Sometimes people are afraid to succeed because of the responsibility this would entail. Sometimes they are afraid of even becoming conscious of their true goals because then they would be aware when they fail. These are not good strategies.)

How would attaining this goal affect the lives of the people around you?

What broader beneficial social impact might your success have?


9.Goals are related to lesser, smaller sub-goals and behaviors, as well as connected to higher-order, more important abstract goals. Sub-goals are easier to achieve, but are still fundamental to reaching our greater aspirations. Sub-goals can thus be thought of as strategies for greater goal achievement. Thinking about what specific things need to be done in order to achieve your goals allows you to create practical strategies for realizing your dreams. Please take some time to write about the concrete daily or weekly things you might do to further your number one goal. Deeply consider what particular behaviors this goal is built upon.

Should you spend more time planning at school or at work?

Do you need to spend more time with your friends, or your children?

Do you need to discuss household chores with your roommates, partner or spouse?

Specify when you are going to work on your goal. Specify how often. Specify where. Think hard about how you are going to implement your plans. Make your plans concrete.


10.Thinking about achieving a goal is obviously easier than going out and getting it done. Many things related to the natural environment, the social group, and the self can stand in your way. It is useful to anticipate these difficulties so that you can plan to overcome them.  


Consider your number one goal, once again. Write down all the potential obstacles you can think up. Write down ways to overcome these obstacles.


How might you interfere with your own plans? How can you ensure this won’t happen? Sometimes change is threatening to people we know and love. Will the people you know help you, or interfere? How can you communicate with them, so that they will support you? Think of realistic and worst-case scenarios. What are your options? What are your alternative plans?

11.We need to know, concretely, whether or not we are progressing towards the attainment of valued goals. Of course, this is not an easy task. When we want to complete very specific tasks, feedback on our performance is relatively easy to monitor. However, if our goals are less short-term, this becomes a little more difficult.


You are now being asked to identify personal benchmarks that will allow you to evaluate your own performance as you work towards your achieving your number one goal.


When would you like to achieve this goal? Be specific. Even if you have to revise a deadline later, it is still better to set one.

What sorts of things will you accept as evidence that you are progressing towards your stated goal?

How often are you going to monitor your own behavior?

How will things in your life have to change, measurably, for you to feel satisfied in your progress?

How can you ensure that you are neither pushing yourself too hard, and ensuring failure, or being too easy on yourself, and risking boredom and cynicism?

Your benchmarks should be personal indicators of success. It doesn’t matter what others may think defines progress towards your goal. Write down those accomplishments that would truly indicate positive movement on your part.