How to Write an Effective Goal Statement

You wouldn’t start a road trip without knowing the destination. Yet that’s what some business owners do when they start a project without an effective goal statement. Goals tell you which direction to head toward. They also let you know if you were successful. But to be effective, a goal needs to answer three questions—What will you do? How will you do it? How well will it be done?

Here’s an example of how to write an effective goal statement with all three parts. Joan, owner of Jivin’ Joan’s Coffee Shop, wants to run a more environmentally-friendly shop. She has an idea to cut down on the amount of discarded coffee grounds she disposes of each week. She wants to package it up and give it to her customers as mulch for their gardens.

Part 1: What will you do?

This is your destination statement. It describes the behavior you will be performing. “Being more environmentally friendly” might mean turning down the thermostat or using biodegradable cups or reducing waste. So your goal needs to specify which action you want.

Result:  Jivin’ Joan’s Coffee shop will reduce the amount of discarded coffee grounds . . .

Part 2: How will you do it?

This part of the goal statement describes the conditions under which you will be performing Part 1. It’s the method you’ll use. Joan might use instant coffee that dissolves completely.  Instead she intends to give it away. So include enough detail to say that.

Result: By placing 1 lb. bags of used coffee grounds at the cash register . . .

Part 3: How well will it be done?

This part describes the acceptable level of performance. It might tell when it will be accomplished or with what accuracy. Joan currently discards five pounds of waste each week. So her goal statement might specify how much will be reduced.

Result:   . . . by 40% in the first week.

Now, put the parts together and you have all three elements:

By placing 1 lb. bags of used coffee grounds at the cash register, Jivin’ Joan’s Coffee shop will reduce the amount of discarded coffee grounds by 40% in the first week.

To do that, she’ll have to give away just two bags.

Effective goal statements help you to establish a clear direction. It will also help you communicate the goal to others who might be helping you. But most importantly, it will tell you whether you’ve reached destination success.

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