The Best Way to Make Your Goals Specific

Specificity is critical when it comes to defining the goals you set for yourself. Goals that are too general lead to a lack of direction and the ability to focus on what’s important. Goals that are too vague will cause you to fail. For example, let’s say you want to drink more water per day. The phrase “I will drink more water every day” is far too general. The lack of specificity allows you to make excuses. The wording doesn’t hold you accountable; it’s not detailed enough to follow through with the plan. Instead, clarify the details. By answering a few questions about your goal, you can pinpoint your intent and narrow down the details.

You need to answer what I call the “5 W’s” of basic information gathering: Who? What? When? Where? Why? Answering these five questions will help you develop clarity and motivation for your goal. Answer these five questions to formulate your goal:

Who will this goal affect?
What exactly do I want to accomplish?
When do I want to achieve this goal?
Where do I want this goal to be achieved?
Why is this goal important to me?

After completing the five information-gathering questions, your goal will look something like, “I will drink 8 glasses of water every day – 2 glasses of water in the morning before breakfast, two glasses with lunch, two glasses after exercise, and two glasses before bed to become healthier. This goal is specific and direct. It explicitly states what your expectations are and allows for accountability.

Another example of a goal without details and focus is “I will exercise more.” This goal is positive and relevant but lacks specificity, so it is doomed to fail. Answering the 5 W’s will provide you with the details you need to set meaningful, constructive goals that have a higher success rate of accomplishment. After answering these questions, you will formulate a goal that sounds something like, “I will work out at the gym for 45 minutes every weekday morning before work.” This statement is a detailed plan for what, where, how, and when you will implement your plan. The details ensure a higher success rate than the first, vague statement.

S stands for specific, in the acronym SMART goals. Formulating specific goals is the first step in setting goals that will last and succeed.

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