What is a goal?

Jesse Smith —  January 16, 2013 — Leave a comment
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3d_goalsWe all have things that we need to get done and, from time to time, there’s a plan to get these things completed. But there is a difference between a to-do and a goal.

Todo (Task)

These are action items that need to be accomplished. They may be connected to a goal or they may not, they tend to be very short-term oriented, and there are lots of them. For example, wash the dog is a “to do” rather than a goal – let’s see why.


A good goal should have some key elements:

Specific – 

Usually, we’ll be able to answer at least 4 of these questions

  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
  • Who: Who is involved?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

Measurable – 

How will you know that you goal has been accomplished? What will you use to evaluate? This element will answer questions like, how many or how often.

Attainable – 

A good goal should stretch you, but should be something that can be done. (You could also use audacious). If you don’t own a dog, washing one might be a useless goal.

Relevant -

Good goals should matter. This element answers Does this seem worthwhile? Is this the right time? Are you the right person?

Time oriented -

To be achievable, a good needs to end. A good goal will define that end date to keep it from being overtaken by day to day tasks.

So, back to the dog…a Goal would be, I will wash my dog once a month during the summer so that our house doesn’t stink. This goal tells me what I want to do, who is going to do it, why it’s being done. It’s something that is attainable because I have a dog. Relevant because I don’t want a smelly house, and I can measure how many times each month the dog was washed during the summer months.

This post at ArtBizBlog helps with understanding very similar terms, like tasks vs. goals.

So, what SMART goals are you setting for your ministry? Share your thoughts with our community and let us help you refine some great goals for this year.


Jesse Smith

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Jesse and his wife, Teri, will celebrate 20 years of marriage in May of 2012 and are raising two growing sons, Kevin and Alex, who seem obsessed with eating all the food that comes near the house. After moving from the DC metro area in 2008 they adopted a mastiff named Book and slobber became a way of life. Jesse is a graduate of Cohort K from Bethel Seminary's CFM program and serves as the Children and Family Pastor at Life Bridge Community Church.

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