Great Goal Setting (4/5): How to Identify Types of Goals and What Steps to Take

Feb 22, 2013
Setting goals can be difficult. Make sure you match your expectations to the type of goal you set.

Setting goals can be difficult. Make sure you match your expectations to the type of goal you set.


This is part 4 of a 5 part series:

Great Goal Setting (1/5): Get Started Setting Goals with a Successful First Step

Great Goal Setting (2/5): How to Stay Motivated with Your Goal in a Way That Makes Sense

Great Goal Setting (3/5): Believing and Quantifying to Ensure Success

Great Goal Setting (5/5): Be Aware of Goal Setting Pitfalls and How to Save Yourself from Disappointment


When setting a goal, we need to know what kind of goal we’re setting. This way we can have a clear idea of what steps to take and what to expect of ourselves.


Learning Goals

In our previous articles, we established that we need to have a clear picture of what our goal is and to make it challenging, but attainable. Hooray! You’re on your way to having everything you want!

Wait! Not so fast…

If you lack the knowledge of how to reach your goal, you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot.

Let’s take Golf for example. You set a goal of, “I want to be shooting scores in the low 90’s by April”. If you’ve just taken up the sport, this might be an unrealistic goal.

As a beginner, you lack the knowledge of the basic fundamentals and need to practice them before you’re playing like a pro.

By focusing on this specific score, you’re putting undue pressure and expectations yourself. Guess what happens? You get frustrated and give up.

What we need to do here is set up some specific Learning Goals. Now your goal looks like, “In the month of January, I want to learn how to putt properly, learn how to grip the putter the correct way, and read the grass when aiming.

By focusing on the learning aspect of the goal, you will improve your overall performance.


Performance Goals

A Performance Goal is slightly different. When setting a Performance Goal, you already have a working knowledge of what you’re approaching. Now you can set goals that have an end outcome that is specific.

These types of goals benefit from having a specific outcome so we can see a specific improvement over a period of time. This is where striving for a specific outcome helps us achieve our goal.


So Remember…

• If you know how to do what you need to do, set a performance goal
• If you lack the knowledge and skills to do so, set a learning goal


Leave us a comment below and share with us your current Learning or Performance Goal




  1. Rosalie Brenner says:

    This came at exactly the right time!

    I honestly believe this is what we need for the growth of our family business. Although it’s relatively new, I already have experienced some tough times.

    From your previous advise on goal setting, you always recommend focusing on a single but challenging goal. But is it possible to tie these two together? What if there’s a certain skill that I need to learn prior to reaching that goal in performing better (e.g. getting acquainted in a new system/development in the industry)? Should I put down the performance goal first and focus on learning that skill? Wouldn’t that put my performance in a lower light?

    • Hi Rosalie,

      Great question. I know it’s counter-intuitive but…

      The research says that if these skills are important to your performance
      and you have not yet mastered them…then your best bet is to set a
      learning goal first.

  2. I think I’m really getting this point of setting performance goals and learning goals. While both are helpful in the achievement of any goal, the difference is its primary focus.

    Learning goals focus: increasing knowledge or skills to reach performance potential

    Performance goals focus : increasing your drive by enforcing current knowledge or skills

    Yes, that makes perfect sense!

    • Tony, I’m glad you’re getting into setting performance goals and learning goals… Please share your experience once you’ve mastered them both…

Speak Your Mind