Set Two Goals

When you set a goal for yourself or your business, set two goals. The first is a quantitative goal. The second is qualitative. Together they are much better at guiding you to your desired ends than a quantitative goal alone.

If you only specify a quantity–“10 new clients by the end of this year ” or “1 chapter per month on my book,” for example–you unwittingly introduce four limits to your success.

  1. You put an upper limit on what you might achieve. What if, after landing 10 new clients, you could have landed 10 more with minimal extra effort?
  2. You expose that goal number to “attack from below,” that is, the tendency to justify and back away from a goal because it seems too difficult. Example: “Golly. A chapter a month is awfully aggressive. Every other writer I know says a chapter a month is impossible.”
  3. You may preclude investment. It may make sense to set a lower goal now so that you can make a strong investment for the future. What if getting just 3 new clients would let you not only generate the revenue you need but also give you time and energy to work on your processes. Maybe you need to invest and scale to meet the new volumes of business.
  4. You may blind yourself to legitimate adjustment of the goal along the way. What if, after a few months, you hear that existing clients have a new, pressing need that you can help with? Would your “10 new clients” goal prevent you from changing course and helping your (presumed more profitable) existing clients? Or what if your “1 chapter per month” goal was draining you. Would you adjust the goal to avoid hurting the quality of your writing?

It’s the apparent arbitrary nature of quantitative goals that cause these limits. Why 10 new clients? Why not 8 or 80? Why 1 chapter per month? What about 2? Or 1 per week?

Here is where qualitative goals help. They guide you much better than a qualitative goal alone can. They keep you honest and help you adjust, invest, and balance your approach as you proceed. They make explicit the reasons for the quantitative goals. Even if you knew the reasons when you set your goal, it is way too easy to lose track.


10 new clients by the end of this year vs. “We will end this year with enough revenue to pay full bonuses and fund the new product launch. 10 new clients will do the trick.”
“1 chapter per month on my book,” vs. “I will work consistently on my new book so that it is ready when my editor says she will have time to work on it. And, I want to avoid any mad rush to meet the deadline. I can meet these quantitative goals by writing 1 chapter per month.”

Simple and effective, eh?


In your corner,


2 thoughts on “Set Two Goals

  1. Mike.
    I like this concept a lot. It addresses one of my fundamental concerns with how goals/objectives are set and still allows for quantitative content.
    Great food for thought!

    1. Hi Debbie,

      I had the same problem. SMART goals–with their specific, measurable qualities–seemed to make sense. But they were not that useful in motivating and guiding. Qualitative goals guide and motivate but feel too…squishy?…to trust.

      Combining the two works really well for both individuals and teams.

      Thanks for your comment!


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