S1.18 - Goal Setting, Page 2

Step 5: When do I start?

Goals and their objectives should all have timelines, a start and completion date or time frame. A start time, date, or event provides a push to begin working toward a goal. The start date should be within the near future. If the start date is in the distant future, the goal may be forgotten or it may no longer be an appropriate goal when the time comes. Stop or end dates are helpful in estimating the total time for goal completion. Some goals may need to be broken into smaller goals if the completion time is into the distant future. Timelines, start and stop times provide another way of evaluating a goal. If a goal is taking a lot longer to complete than originally estimated, the goal may need to be evaluated and re-written with additional or modified objectives and new timelines.

Step 6: Whose goal is it?

Sometimes people need assistance in deciding on a specific goal. It may be appropriate and necessary to provide this assistance. It is also important to make sure that the person you are working with really wants to achieve the goal. Goals should be written to reflect confidence in achieving the goal, and ownership in the goal. Consider the following examples:

It isn’t difficult to determine which of these statements reflects the strongest commitment to achieving the goal. Goals should be written to reflect a desire to meet the goal. Encourage the use of strong verbs in writing goals.

Step 7: Goals are good things

Goals should be written in a positive manner. The goal should project something that is increased, gained, or added rather than something that is restricted, taken away, or reduced. The goal should result in something good, such as better health, greater professional expertise, or a more organized office. Goals should not include something less pleasant, such as decreased food, less free time, or more work. For example, the same goal may be written two ways:

The Second Goal does not appear to be a positive goal. The goal writer seems to be unhappy about the goal, since the only outcome is to avoid the criticism of others. The first goal is written to emphasize the positive outcome of the goal.

Step 8: Is the goal attainable?

Insure that the goal selected is realistic. The goal writer is the best person to determine whether a goal is attainable, some questions might be asked to help:

Ideally, a goal should require some work and focus but not be set so high as to make success unlikely. If a goal is too large, divide it into smaller individual goals. Multiple, small goals can ultimately lead to the same destination.


Page updated 10/13/06

End of basic content. Credits, navigation links and, where relevant, reference citations follow.

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Web Resources

Donohue, G. (n.d.). Goal setting – powerful written goals in 7 easy steps! Retrieved June 28, 2002, from http://www.topachievement.com/goalsetting2.html

Eade, D. M. (1994). Goal setting: Strategies for a balanced life. In The 1995 Clinicians Reference Guide ( A Supplement to Clinician Reviews). Retrieved June 28, 2002, from http://www.adv-leadership-grp.com/articles/goalsetting.htm

Knowlton, R. (n.d.). The top 10 conditions for creating a compelling outcome. Retrieved June 28, 2002, from http://www.topachievement.com/robertknowlton.html

Liraz Publishing Company (n.d.). Goal Setting Tips. Retrieved on June 28, 2002, from http://www.liraz.com/tgoals.htm


Bolding, N. L. & Wehmeyer, M.L. (1999). Learning to set a goal. In It’s my future! Planning for what I want in my life (pp. 95-108). Silver Springs, MD: The Arc of the United States.

Davies, P. (Ed.). (1981). The American heritage dictionary of the English language (3rd ed.). New York: Dell Publishing Company.

Davis, S., & Wehmeyer, M. (1991). 10 Steps to Independence: Self-Determination in the Home. Arlington, TX: The Arc of the United States.

Mithaug, D. E., Wehmeyer, M. L., Agran, M., Martin, J. E., & Palmer, S. (1998). The self-determined learning model of instruction: Engaging students to solve their learning problems. In M.L. Wehmeyer & D.J. Sands (Eds.) Making it happen: Student involvement in education planning, decision making, and instruction (pp. 299-327). Baltimore, MD: Paul Brookes.

Sands, D. J., & Doll, B. (2000). Teaching goal setting and decision making to students with developmental disabilities. Innovations. Research to Practice Series (pp. 4-5). American Association on Mental Retardation.

Smith, D.J. & Nelson, R. (1997). Goal-setting, self-monitoring and self-evaluation for students with disabilities. In M. Agran(Ed.), Student directed learning: Teaching self-determination skills (pp. 80-11-). Pacific Grove CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Supports 1 Index | S1.01 | S1.02 | S1.03 | S2.04 | S2.05 | S1.06 | S1.07 | S1.08 | S1.09 | S1.10 | S1.11 | S1.12 | S1.13 | S1.14 | S1.15 | S1.16 | S1.17 | S1.18

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