Many people use goals to drive to a more ideal future. Some goals can’t easily be achieved because they don’t seem to convert well into the SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achieveable, Realistic, Time-Bound) goals criteria. Desires like new skills,  future beliefs, or perspectives are often very difficult to get to a level of specificity or measurability. Don’t fret. There is a simple question based process to get you to some very specific objective goals.

Objective Goals typically fall into the category of SMART goals. Most objective goals can be specific, measurable, achieveable, reasonable, and time bound. Such goals often relate to objective properties in the real world that you can appreciate with your senses. In many ways, setting these goals are easy – because they make sense. It is also easy to get help with objective goals.

Subjective desires on the other hand are much more difficult to work with. Subjective desires often relate to feelings or perspectives on a situation or problem. Desires like “I want to get better at handling stress” become much more difficult to work with in SMART terms. Others such as  “I want to have more self confidence” are just as challenging.

Fortunately, there is a simple series of questions we can use to turn Subjective desire statements into Objective goal statements and make them easier to work with. Here they are:

  1. What would different if you achieved your goal?
    This is a good question because it helps you get to specific behaviors and circumstances you can work on or create. Each of these statements of difference help to describe a potential objective goal or action step.
  2. What am I doing now that I should start/stop/continue doing to help achieve my desire?
    In the same way, this question can help you get to specific actions or behaviors that you can change to achieve your desire. Each of these start/stop/continue items may be made an objective goal very easily. For example if you want to stop thinking judgmental thoughts, simply start counting them. Such a goal might be worded “I want to think 15 less negative thoughts a week by the end of the quarter.”
  3. What is the emotion/need behind the visible desire?
    Often times, what we think we want is a “desire symptom” of a deeper emotional need, or desire. For example, many people want to lose weight in order to feel more attractive and be more confident with themselves. Others want to lose weight for the more “objective” reasons of health.

Asking these three questions should get you from a squishy desire into a much harder objective goal. If not, keep asking them. Eventually such questions will drive into an objective statement that you can work with.  This is the key to taking a desire out of the realm of inaction and fantasy and bringing it into a place where you can work to make it happen.