5 Characteristics of Goals that Work

Basketball Equipment Goal

Goals. Many have them. Few accomplish them. Why?

Most people have some general goals in their heads, but never write them down.

Even worse, their goals are vague. They don’t follow a detailed plan.

A goal without a plan is not a goal. It’s a wish.

“Goals are visions and dreams with work clothes on… Goals force practical steps into your life to make your dreams come true.”

– Dave Ramsey, EntreLeadership

If you want to set goals that you will actually accomplish, you have to move past the dreams and focus on a plan

– the specific tasks you must accomplish in order to make your dream come true.

5 Characteristics of Goals that Work

1. Specific Outcome

What exactly is the desired end result?

Don’t just say “I want to to lose weight.” Be specific. Say, “I want to lose 21 pounds.”

If you simply set a goal to for your church to grow, then as long as every year you add one more person you are technically accomplishing growth. Is that really what you mean by growth? You have to be specific.

Next year our goal is to grow by 10%.

Being specific also ties in to the second characteristic.

2. Measurable Win

How will you know if you have succeeded?

The best thing about sports is that there is always a clear winner. At the end of the game, whoever has the most points wins.

The problem with most people who set goals is that they don’t have a clear way to know if they are winning or not. There is no scoreboard. You have to define the win.

Don’t just say we want to recruit more volunteers. How will you measure your success here? Say, we need to recruit 25 new volunteers. Then you and your team will know that 25 is the win.

You have established the target. Anything short is a loss. Anything above is a greater margin of victory.

If you don’t measure the win, you or your team could think you are winning and still lose. It would be like playing basketball without taking score. Your team could start saying, “We are winners, because we played hard.” Or “We we are winners, because we worked well as a team.” That might all be true, but they didn’t score any points!

This is the problem with many churches. They don’t know how to measure their success, so they find anything positive and think they are winning.

For more on this, you have to read Andy Stanley’s incredible book 7 Practices of Effective Ministry. This is the single greatest book (other than the Bible) that has influenced my ministry the most.

3. Deadline Focused

When must the goal be accomplished? Deadlines keep you focused.

It is not enough to say “I want to get 2 months ahead on my sermon writing.” This is specific and measurable, but there is not deadline. You have to say, “I want to be 2 months ahead on my sermons by May 9th.”

Have you ever noticed how you become infinitely more productive moments before a deadline?

For example, in college, the night before a big paper is due you get more accomplished in the final 2 hours than you did the entire month before. And somehow you managed to finish on time.

This is the power of a deadline. You are forced to do whatever it takes to hit the goal before the clock expires.

A deadline, even if self-imposed, is a powerful motivator.

4. Action Oriented

In order to accomplish your goal, what has to be done? This is the real key to accomplishing your goal.

If There is a secret sauce to accomplishing goals, this is it! Break your big goal into small tasks.

The reason most people don’t lose weight is because they say I want to lose 50 pounds. They work out, eat healthy, and lose a few pounds but inevitably give up because the goal of 50 seems unreachable

Instead have a series of smaller tasks to accomplish. If you want to lose 50 pounds in 5 months for example, break it down into 10 pounds a month. Or even better 2.5 pounds a week.

Losing 50 pounds seems impossible. But you could lose 2.5 pounds, couldn’t you?

Map out the small tasks that must be accomplished in order to complete the big goal. Write them down chronologically. What needs to be done first? Create a deadline for each task.

It is like the old proverb says: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

5. Shared Publicly

Who else knows about your goal? The best way to ensure that you reach your goal is to make it public.

I once worked at a mega-church where the senior pastor announced from stage his New Year’s Resolution to not drink soda for a year.

He said, “Why am I telling you this? Because in a church this big, you people are everywhere! If I announce my goal publicly, I know you all will keep me accountable. So if you see me with a soda in my hand, you have my permission to call me on it.”

Do you think he kept his resolution? Yes!

Private goals fail because there is no accountability.

Make your goals public. Announce it on Facebook. Blog about it. Tell your staff. Ask your small group to hold you accountable.

Making your goal public will ensure accountability and motivate you to succeed.

Want to take this a step further? Write or give a weekly report to the people holding you accountable.

A study by Dominican University found that people who wrote down their goals, shared them with a friend, and sent weekly updates to that friend were 33% more successful accomplishing their goals than those who just had written goals.

Take Action

Write down your goals following the 5 Characteristics of Goals that Work. What is the specific outcome and measurable win? When is the deadline? Have you mapped the action steps? Who are you going to share it with?

QUESTION: What are your goals? Have you had any success trying any of steps these before?

Other Posts from the Best Year Yet Series

  1. Make This Year Your Best Year – Start Here
  2. 5 Characteristic of Goals that Work – Set Goals
  3. The Secret to Getting Ahead on Sermon Preparation – Get Ahead
  4. How to Eliminate Bad Speaking Habits. Umm… Like… You Know? – Speak Better
  5. Lose Wight; Preach Better – Healthy Body
  6. Why a Healthy Ministry Requires a Healthy Family – Healthy Family
  7. Out of the Overflow of the Heart the Preacher Speaks – Healthy Spiritual Life
  8. 41 Ways to Risky Preaching – Try Something New
  9. You Don’t Have Time Not to Read – Read More
  10. The Secret to Winning Time Management – Accomplish More of What Matters
  11. Do You Make This One Common Preaching Mistake? – Step Away From your Desk


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By | 2017-01-04T00:15:53+00:00 January 4th, 2013|