4 Types of Goals

Are you setting any New Year's resolutions this year?


Goals are hard. I can tell because the gym is always packed full in January, and empty again a month later.

One of the reasons for this, I believe, is that people don't think ahead about what it is they're getting into. There are different types of goals, requiring different types of commitments - time, dedication, willpower, mental energy. Thinking about this beforehand can have an impact on your ability to be successful.

This isn't going to be a long, in-depth article about successfully achieving goals. Heck, there are thousands of books on that topic - I couldn't cover it all in a single blog post (although I will continue to write about it throughout the year.) But I still think it's worth understanding the different types of goals:

1.) Achievement Goals -

These are the goals for accomplishing a specific task/project. They are going to take a lot of effort, which then culminates in a glorious fashion when you complete the goal. Examples include:

  • Running a marathon
  • Hiking the Grand Canyon
  • Learning a new language
  • Writing a novel

Note that once the goal/task is completed, you will always have the memory (and bragging rights) about having done that task, and no further commitment is required from you. These goals are temporary commitments of your time and energy.

2.) Lifestyle Change Goals -

These goals are easy to say, and seem important, but are difficult to keep over the long term because they require a dedicated commitment for, oh, ever. They usually require you give up something you like, or something you are comfortable with, in exchange for pushing yourself outside your comfort zone and into something more healthy. Examples:

  • Running (or walking) every day, or X days per week. Requires waking up earlier, watching less tv, and sweating more.
  • Reading more. Requires waking up earlier, staying up later, or watching less tv.
  • Eating healthier. Requires eating less junk (comfort) food.
  • Learning a new hobby. Requires time, which probably means less tv.

The thing about these goals is how much harder they are to do, day after day, for the long haul, then they initially sound. "Walk for 30 minutes each day" doesn't sound bad, until the 4th day when you get home late and dinner takes too long clean up, and the kids need help with homework, and... you didn't go for your walk.

It's better to add these goals in very small increments - one goal at a time with a minimal frequency/intensity. You can always adjust the goal upwards next month if you find you've been successful.

3.) Quitting a Vice Goals -

These goals are obvious, but they are brutally difficult to achieve.

Unlike a lifestyle goal, where you only have to push through your laziness once to be successful, Quitting Goals make you face your inner demons dozens of times each day. And if you're successful, you get to do it all over again tomorrow.

  • Quit smoking
  • Quit drinking
  • Quit drinking soda
  • Quit eating sugary snacks
  • Quit eating fast food
  • Quit watching tv
  • Quit spending so much time on Facebook

The thing you're quitting doesn't go away, so you have the opportunity to fail at any given moment. These goals take dedication, willpower, a good support team, and a crazy amount of desire to be successful. On the other hand, success with these goals can be life-changing.

4.) Combination (or Complex) Goals -

The goals which are stated as one objective, but which are actually the culmination of several other goals achieved in unison.

  • Losing Weight requires eating less (lifestyle change and probably quitting some foods), eating better (lifestyle change to introduce new foods while quitting the bad foods), and physical exercise (lifestyle change).
  • Increasing Net Worth might require increasing your income (business lifestyle goals of more daily prospecting and adding new marketing channels) and decreasing your expenses (quitting goals of not buying the things you typically buy.)

Break these goals down to determine the basic goals required, and then you can attack the smaller goals on a daily basis.

Bottom Line

Tis the season for setting goals - wrapping up the old year and making plans for the new. Give your goals careful consideration, and then get after 'em with everything you've got!

Here's to your success in 2017 - Cheers!

- Chris Butterworth