Updated October 5th, 2016

(Original Blog Post)

Today’s current take on Goals: They Suck

Thoughts I’m Pondering

We focus too much on a goal’s target. The real goal of a goal is to provide clear, continuous motivation and focus. The end result is just a byproduct of an effective goal. Get that mindset prior to creating goals.

  • Setting a goal should focus less on the finish line and more on creating an energetic atmosphere/culture.
    • Not too easy where it takes more effort to make the goals than to complete the goals.
    • Not too hard where hitting the target seems impossible and thus no one is inspired to try and complete it.
    • The goal should be set at the perfect distance where you can just see the target and reaching it is doable and exciting

There is no perfect goal so figure out the important aspects and be OK with the trade offs.

  • The ideal goal sets the perfect pace where you complete the goal with the following:
    • Minimal energy wasted
      • You are only focusing on what precisely matters and not side goals
      • You are using the correct tools for the job
    • Shortest amount of time
      • You are sequencing actions and working as a team to complete tasks quickly
    • Hitting the correct target
      • The information/research you had upfront before making the goal led you to the exact result you wanted.
    • Zero repercussions
      • You are set up to seamlessly transition into the next goal.
      • You are not cleaning up any messes.
    • OK, you are not going to make the perfect goal, but figure out what parts are important. Don’t need to complete right away? Just need to get close to the target? Is it OK to create a mess if it means you will hit the target earlier? It’s a similiar concept the Project Management Triangle or the “Pick Two” adage. You can’t have it all.
    • Also, you need to consider what type of target are you trying to hit?
      • Understanding the size of the target should dictate how you go achieving a goal.
      • Do you just have to be close? Or do you have to hit it perfectly?
        • Is it a soccer type goal (big net)?
        • Hockey type goal (small net)?
        • Is it an archery bullseye (very precise)?
        • Is it a moving target like trap shooting?

Bad goals are set all the time. Recognize it and revise it.

  • You see, the target is a prediction. It always is until you reach it. It is a place where you think you want to be. (Or a place someone tells you to be at).
  • You are always receiving new information. Slightly revise the target when needed.
  • If the target is not right, then why continue?

All goals are not created equal. Goals are like tools. Use the right goal for the job.

  • Stretch Goals
    • The dream on paper.
    • Takes multiple goals to reach.
  • SMART Goals
    • Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound goals
    • Specific Types of Smart Goals
      • Weekly Goals
        • Goals that are to completed on a weekly basis
        • Ideal for experimentation/learning
      • One Time Goals
        • Goals that are completed in one fell swoop
  • Step Stone Goals
    • Goals that are specifically made to reach the start of another goal
    • Think of it more as a milestone.
  • Goal Diversity is critical for optimal performance.
  • Having various goals also helps prevent stagnation.

Does there need to be a reward for hitting the goal?

  • Monetary/object incentives are greatly overstated.
    • Remember when I posted about motivation. Think about the autonomy, mastery, and purpose you have within a particular goal. If you don’t have it, rethink the goal or the system you are working in.
  • Emphasize the invisible rewards like experience, relationship building, etc within a goal. These extra rewards will also help with push you to complete the goal.
    • I.E. Even if I don’t fully know if target of this goal is correct, but I am learning this software or this tool.

Even if you fail to hit the goal’s target, document where you landed.

  • Then you can recalculate and shoot for the target again.
  • Or use what you have learned to determine a new target.

When is the right time to set goals?

  • That’s a serious question. Is there a perfect time to setting goals? There must be a cutoff point where you have just enough information to make an educated guess at the target and establish the goal.
  • I’m still trying to figure this one out.

Practical Application

Here are the steps I have come up to create my goals that support my dream.

  • Start at the top. Start with the dream. AKA stretch goal
    • What is the dream you want to realize?
    • Write it down
  • Use Techniques to really understand the path of goals
    • The Deal Breakers
      • List out any potential pitfalls that would prevent you from realizing the dream
      • If any of the following things don’t happen, the dream is unable to be completed
      • This pulls out the critical goals..
    • Use various techniques to figure out what kind of goals you need
      • Start at the finish line and recount your steps
  • Assign Goals
    • Weekly Goals
    • One Time Goals
    • Step Stone Goals

Technique Examples

In order to get the mind wrapped around the dream/stretch goal and the individual supporting goals some times you have to try different techniques.

One method is to start at the finish line and work your way back to the start. Here is a made up conversation that helped me develop some of my business goals.

  • Me: I did it!
  • You: Did what?
  • Me: I sold/licensed my design to XYZ company!
  • You: How did you do that?
  • Me: I presented them with my design!
  • You: How’d you show them your design?
  • Me: I sent them a video of my functioning prototype (or a well written/designed presentation of the product)
  • You: Who created the video/presentation?
  • Me: I hired it out/did it myself.
  • You: How’d you create your design?
  • Me: I 3D printed some parts while fabricating others out of metal and wood!
  • You: How’d you get the models for the 3D parts and fabrications?
  • Me: I designed it on CAD
  • You: How’d you get the design?
  • Me: I did some research on what people liked about current products and then made some mock ups.
  • You: Coooooool

This will lead to creating a Step Stone goal path like this:

  • Take idea and completely dissect it. Figure out what a user wants in the product
    • Develop design and 3D Model that aligns with the user
      • Create a prototype
      • Create a “Sell Sheet” presentation with Product name, 3D model and Description. Potentially a video of the functionality
        • Research Companies that could be interested in product
          • Present the design to the companies
            • Revise Design as necessary
            • Develop three contacts with companies interested in licensing the design.
              • License design

Of course this isn’t perfect. But it’s a rough blueprint that I can use to help me create goals. I’ll apply this more in a follow up post.

There are many other techniques you could come up with but the point of this is to figure out what matters. Spend a little more time upfront and you will have a propensity to establishing meaningful goals


Creating unknowingly bad goals is easy and common. With a little more effort, effective goals can be created. Here are some bullet points to consider:

  • Spend more time upfront trying to truly understand a path of goals. Commit it to memory.
  • Start with a process oriented mindset. Don’t focus solely on the target. Rather create goals that are exciting, motivating, and within reach.
  • Use a diversity of goals to guide you to the correct target and prevent you from being stagnate.