Setting Goals, Objectives, and Tasks

To begin planning, define your goal and objectives. Then devise a series of tasks to accomplish both.

Setting Your Goal

A goal begins with a desire. It may be spawned by curiosity; by an assignment at home, school, or work; or even by a basic need. In each case, a gap exists between the way things are and the way you want them to be. The more clearly you express the desire, the better you will be able to bridge the gap. One way to set a goal is to state the desire and then clarify it by applying the following set of SMART guidelines:


A goal should aim for a specific target. It is not merely a general direction, but rather a particular location or achievement.


A goal ought to require effort and accomplish something significant. Something that comes naturally doesn’t need a goal.


On the other hand, a goal should be realistic. There is little point in setting a goal that clearly requires more resources than you have.


A goal should have a legitimate purpose and be relevant to a specific need.


Every goal needs a target date, including measurable achievements along the way.

Besides following the SMART guidelines, also remember to state your goal in positive rather than negative terms. Consider these examples:

My Desires

My Goals

I’m not very good at basketball, so I need to improve.

I will learn to shoot layups with both hands by the end of the month.

I wish I felt less tired all the time.

I will rearrange my schedule so I can get to bed sooner.

My French is really terrible, and I’ll just have to change that.

I will read a short novel in French over the summer and submit a review, in French, to the school’s foreign language blog.

I have to do a group project about rehabilitation of military veterans.

We will prepare a video interview of veterans and their caregivers and present it in class and online.


Defining Objectives

To more thoroughly understand your goal, define its related objectives by asking the 5 W’s and H. Your answers will guide further planning.


Burton Raboin, Pamella Emard, Arminda Ferrar, Leif Semas, Felix Hofacker, and I will work together on the project.


We will investigate the rehabilitation of military veterans, conduct interviews of veterans and their caregivers, and prepare a video presentation.


We’ll do the initial investigation online, then record video interviews in person, or (if necessary) do audio interviews by phone.


We have to finish the project by April 1.


We’ve read news stories that many military veterans are facing unique challenges in getting diagnosed and treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and similar conditions.


We’ll present ourselves as students of Brewster High to request stories from the veterans and their caregivers and use smartphone cameras to capture the interviews. Using our school’s computer, we’ll edit the footage into a final video.


Listing Tasks

Each project is accomplished with a unique set of tasks or steps. Establish these based on your goal, objectives, and resources.

What do we need to do?

What do we need to learn?

    1. Research the subject.
    2. Create a list of potential veterans and caregivers to interview in our area.
    3. Request interviews.
    4. Assign interview teams.
    5. Conduct the interviews.
    6. Evaluate the results.
    7. Create a cohesive “story” for our video.
    8. Edit the video.

Present the video in class and post it online.

We’ve read some reports about veterans being returned to combat with undiagnosed brain injuries, vets having trouble getting treatment, and vets ending up homeless after being discharged. We need to find out about (1) the resources available for the vets, (2) any success stories, and (3) the reasons behind vets not receiving the care they need.


Your Turn List your goal, objectives, and tasks for a current project or for one you would like to do. (Download templates at thoughtfullearning.com/h357.)