How Specific Are Your Goals?

I start almost every day with an email I subscribe to, and today the author asked some very pointblank questions:

  • What do I want to be?
  • What do I want to do?
  • What do I want to have?
  • Why do I want it?

That last question is the most important of all, in my opinion. Without knowing why, very specifically, you'll never have enough incentive to figure out and follow through with the how.

That email came from Rick Warren, a pastor with a strong online presence. Christian or not, you may very well be interested in the way he uses the internet to spread his message. Rick has a (ie ONE) very specific niche & market. He has engaging daily emails, a variety of products, podcasts, events and online communities. He is also active and engaged with his market on both Twitter & Facebook.

If you follow his work you'll see an excellent example of online marketing. So in addition to the actual topic today, there you have a beautiful example to follow in your own niche. You're welcome! πŸ˜‰

Back to the question: WHY?

It's fun to dream. To imagine yourself 10 years from now. To create the life you want in your mind, and devise a strategic plan to create that life.

That's the easy part.

The hard part comes in the work that it takes to implement that plan. And the time. Ohhh the time. It's all too common to get bored, distracted, burned out, for doubt to creep in and tell you it can never happen, and to ultimately give up. Which leaves you right back where you were (the spot you never actually left).

That's common because most people have not answered the why. If you can't say with 100% certainty WHY you want something, you'll never muster up enough steam to attain it.

Let's say your goal is to earn $20,000 a month.


If you can't answer that, it's pointless.

Money alone is not a goal. Money is the result.

You may have a goal that requires money in order to achieve it, which gives you a solid why for earning a specific amount. But money alone should never be the goal.

(Sadly, I know a lot of people with plenty of money that are plenty unhappy. Money alone does not buy happiness. Purpose and achievement are the keys to happiness. Money is simply a means to get there.)

Another quote from today's email:

"You will never reach a vague goal."

I challenge you to define your WHY today. Answer the four questions above, in regards to your online business and your desire for success. Imagine yourself 3 years from now. How are you different than you are today? Where do you live? What is your daily life like? How does your online business operate?

Once you can get a clear vision of those things, and know exactly why you want to reach that place, it will be very easy to create a strategic plan of action toward that end result...


About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...moreΒ»


  1. Joe Marsh says:


    Your right on target...

    It's hard to get somewhere if you're not sure where you want to be. The more detailed the end result the better, but pick a target and get started. You can adjust later..

    Then your WHY will drive you.


    • "Pick a target and get started. You can adjust later"

      A perfect motivator Joe! Down lower in the comments Jim Campbell says; "I write my goals down daily but have to rethink the β€œwhy’s” ...

      This is a great way to "adjust" according to circumstance, on a daily basis. Great topic Lynn, and I have really enjoyed the comments everyone.

      I think a lot of why's are summed up with the vague phrase "financial Independence" - which is a varying term from person to person...

      I really like Joe's "pick a target" term, because "financial Independence" is just too vague for the "adjust later" is well spelled out by writing down your goals daily, today my goal is to earn the money online to pay for some orthopedic needs - very specific and will help with my back pain.

      I also have a target price and a time limit - right now my doctor has them on sale for $215 until the end of the month (Oct.) a very specific "why" goal that will have to be adjusted at the end of the month (or sooner if I reach the goal before then πŸ˜‰ )

      Have to check out Rick Warren now - thanks for the motivator Lynn!

  2. Hey Lynn, Rick Warren is a great example. I read his book "The Purpose Driven Life" which BTW is excellent. His teachings apply not only to your spiritual life but business as well, as you've pointed out.

    Putting money and goals into perspective is great food for thought. Such simple questions you mention above but very powerful if you can answer them honestly, thanks Lynn πŸ™‚

  3. Rick Byrd says:


    Awesome post!

    Trying to get people to determine their "why", especially those trying to start a business is so important. I do hear a lot of people that just list make more money as their why. Obvioulsy this is not very specific at all.

    I have found that too many people hate to make goals. I don't know if this is because they are lazy or if they don't want to hold themselves accountable. Either way, these are the people that will struggle to succeed.

    Creating goals is not the hard part so it is intersting that so many people do not set goals for themselves or the businesses. The hard part, as you mention is the time and effort that needs to be put in to achieve those goals.

    It is amazing that in most full-time jobs people have goals they have to meet in order to keep their jobs but when it comes to operating their own business they do not treat it the same way.

    My "Why" is to be able to spend more time with my family and travel with my family to fun and exciting places around the world. I realize that my kids are not going to be at home forever and I want to spend as much time with them as I can now.

    Take care!

    - Rick

  4. Lynn:

    Great post. You are right there are a lot of very wealthy people that are very miserable because they thought money of itself would make them happy. Not that having money is a bad thing but if you are looking to it for happiness you will always be disappointed.

    I was one of those "I want to make $50,000" a month people. Not because I just wanted the money but because of what it could do for my family and some other folks in my life.

    One of the episodes of IMTW that you guys did is what got me to rethinking my goals. Why did I need to make $50.000 a month? Is that really what it would take for me to reach my goals and do what I needed to do. Or like a lot of lottery winners would it just turn out to be a huge headache that I didn't need.

    If you get the why right. Everything else will pretty much take care of itself. IF ( yeah isn't there always an if) you are really motivated by what you need or want to do.

    Have a great day,

  5. The Why is so important, but it never hit me quite how important it is until I saw this TED youtube video, tweeted by @BrentHodgson on Twitter:
    http:// www.

    It tells us just what is so different about companies that have a strong Why.

  6. My biggest motivation at the moment is moving and having my own apartment. I currently live with a roommate and want to live independently. There's nothing I want more than that. (right now)

    And getting back to my Chicago. Yay!

    Funny thing about motivation is that it can snowball either way. Either you have it in spades or you lack it in spades, but one thing is that it's not set in stone. Our minds are wacky like that.

    Hustle hustle is key in 2010 and 2011.

    But getting back to the WHY? That is my why.

  7. I agree, the WHY is very important, and I think it is also ever changing. The why in the beginning may be because you want to pay your ridiculously large electric bill, later it may be that you want to save money for your child's education or send them to a private school, even later it may be because you want to help your favorite charity to reach a goal. In some cases the why may even change on a day to day basis - as long as you understand your why that's okay too.

    These questions are a great way to start off the week, drill down, get re-focused on what's most important to us. I jotted them down on the top of my to-do list page for the week, definitely a good reminder.

  8. Once again, another great post, thanks Lynn.

    Goals are fascinating things and many people will say that they have never acheived anything. Once exercise I like is think BACK 3, 5, 10 years and write down what was going on in your life then.

    What has changed? How far have you come. What direction have you moved in. The "why" retrospectively is sometimes easier to see (if you are honest with yourself) - and I find this helps with the why looking forward.

  9. Maketta(Maa) says:

    I totally agree with you Lynn. Your why sustains you. It gives you the motivation you need to keep on going. It makes quitting not an option. I, myself take it a little at a time.

  10. When I first got started in Internet marketing, I also studied the law of attraction. I used to have my goals (very specific with time lines included) written on an index card and I carried it with me and recited it several times a day while I was at my job.
    I'm no longer at my job πŸ™‚

  11. Jim Campbell says:

    Thanks for the reminder Lynn. I write my goals down daily but have to rethink the "why's" and ensure they're in alignment and strong enough.


  12. My why...that has always been a hard one for me. Maybe this is what has delayed my success a bit. I absolutely agree that you must have an imagine of where you want to be in the future!! It does change as the years go by. My goal use to be to have my husband quit his job. Now it is has changed because I have more children and my husband likes his job now! Life happens and focus and desires change!

  13. Why, indeed.

    I recently decided to begin each day with a 3 part visualization exercise. First, I visualize a day in the future in which some important things about my life will be different as a result of accomplishing my overall goal. Next I remind myself of the major steps that will take to that day from where I am now. Last, I think of what steps I'll do today toward that goal.

    I've been doing this for a few weeks now and I really feel it's helping me keep on track.

  14. Luca Lazzari says:

    Sometimes, I hate you! πŸ˜€

  15. Jim Rohn was in many ways a personal mentor for me and one of his favourite phrases was "If you have a strong enough WHY, you will always find the HOW". Most of us start back-to-front with the WHAT or the HOW, but it's true - once I knew WHY I wanted to live the lifestyle I have now, the HOW just fell into place πŸ™‚ Today it's sunny and warm as I look from my desk window to a view of the Red Sea with the mountains of Jordan in the background.

    Thanks for the reminder Lynn - and also for giving me the opportunity to express my appreciation of my life πŸ™‚

  16. Ripoffreport says:

    There are quite a number of self-help books that can guide you towards achieving your goals. Indeed, there is so much advice that you can take into consideration that sometimes, it can be very overwhelming.

  17. Henrik Flensborg says:

    Perhaps the most important thing when you're searching for your "why" is to look deep enough or high enough.

    There will be layers upon layers of "fake"-why's and you might be tempted to settle for the first thing that resembles a genuine "why"

    One way to discover your true "why's" is to keep asking "...and why is that important?" to every "why" you have uncovered until you start getting close to something close enough to your core values and beliefs that you'll have no problem finding the energy and motivation to pursue it.

    You know you're on to something real when your answers starts running in circles, you have a hard time coming up with other explanations as to why it is important and your gut feeling tells you that "this is it, this is me, this is what I know I'm supposed to be"

  18. In a year of IM, I've done a little bit of a lot of things, and made a little bit of money. My goal was always 'make more money'. I recently came up with a huge WHY, and I've made huge advances ever since. Once I had a real reason to to push me, it was amazing how much I could get done.

  19. One of your wonderful posts when the feedback in the comments is almost as enlightening as your post. I'd never considered being quite so flexible with my "why". Several folk talk about changing their "why" on an almost daily basis and this seems very in keeping with the reality of life.

    Yes, maybe you want to make more money - but this week it will be to fund some much needed dental work and next week it might be for school fees. So the "why" doesn't have to be some grandiose dream but to be able to live life today in the manner that you would like to.

  20. Identifying your career goals and life goals, of course, are key. But they must be realistic relative to where you are currently. Then at various points, you need to re-evaluate your goals and adjust them accordingly. Sometimes you need to lower your expectations in the short run to get where you ultimately desire to go. Anyway, great post!

  21. Brenda Starr says:

    I have always had to struggle with "goals" and boundaries. This hippie chick is just too free-spirited! I have found, however, that goals are an absolute must and when I answer the questions you have posted, it sure makes life a lot easier and more focused. thanks for the reminder.

  22. Hi Lynn, Thank you for this post because it remind me of my goal in life. You not only enlighten me with WHY?... but others too

  23. What do I want to be? A leader in helping others with my expertise.
    What do I want to do? Leading a rich life and leave a legacy of goodness behind.
    What do I want to have? A fine place, and opportunities to enrich others with my talent.
    Why do I want it? because I know that ultimate Happiness is in serving others, enriching their lives, and making others feel better.

  24. Heather Masson says:

    The WHY is huge. I finally have my why figured out, and it's got not a lot to do with making XX dollars a month. So many changes in my life in the past year, and my "why" has evolved because of it. Now I can see very specifically in my head where I want to be in 6 months, and WHY I want to be there.

    It's a huge motivating factor, and a great post to start the week! πŸ™‚

    Thanks Lynn!

  25. Iris Rounds Johnson says:

    Lynn, thanks for a great post. The comments have been thought-provoking and enlightening, too. Knowing "WHY" we want to accomplish something is key to having a real sense of accomplishment once it's been attained. It IS all about living a purpose-driven life and having goals and a plan to fulfill it.

    Wealth and making a lot of money may be a motivating factor a lot of times but the pursuit of happiness, through serving and helping my family and others, is my driving force.

    I've found that writing my goals down every week helps me to stay on track and within my target deadline date. I better get to cracking and jot down my weekly goals now!

    Have a very productive week!

  26. Hey Lynn,
    A great post! A good friend of mine attends Rick Warren's church at Saddleback and loves it - she promised to take me the next time I'm in southern CA.

    I feel like my "Why" is very clear. But where I get stuck is, what do you do if it seems like your plan isn't working? How do you know if you should stick with it, or try something else? I don't want to give up and move back to square one -- but what if (and how do you know!) if the "dip" is a signal to work harder because you're almost there, or if it's a sign that this dog just plain don't hunt?

    Trying to figure that one out right now...

  27. Rebecca Ness says:

    Great advice Lynn. Something that is so simple yet we normally overlook it.
    I am going to take the challenge today!

  28. Lynn these are some great questions and very hard to answer, I still haven't answered "what I want to be when I grow up" and I am middle aged. Knowing the "why" of what you are doing really helps keep you motivated to do it. Most of us need to answer at least some, if not all of these questions.

  29. Someone told me once to stop asking "Why?" and ask "How come?" instead. The slight nuance can help when your stuck.

  30. Richard Bandler, one of the founders
    of NLP, always began his sessions by

    "What do you want?"

    In his workshops this seemed to work
    fine, but in my consulting room many
    simply didn't know. All they knew was
    that they were in pain.

    It seems to me the fortunate
    entrepreneurs are the ones whose
    motivation is similar to that of
    a mountaineer. They climb the
    route to business innovation and
    creation because it's there.

    I would count Felix Dennis and
    Richard Branson in that category.

    Then there are those, such as my
    former clients, who are in pain.
    They want it to go away, and once
    the removal of pain is turned
    into a positive statement of
    they're set to go, and happy to
    take baby-steps.

    These people want to pay their
    rent; find a larger apartment
    so their children can each have
    a room; or perhaps they want to
    stop working 16 hour days and
    enjoy a better quality of family

    Sadly there is a third group who
    are both in pain, and vulnerable.
    These are prevalent in the IM field.
    They want to earn $1,000,000 today
    yet have never earned $20,000 in
    a year. If someone gave then a
    million today most likely they
    would lose it all in two to three

    Unscrupulous marketers prey on
    such people and succeed in selling
    them whole libraries of $27 products
    that are guaranteed to make them
    rich in thirty days, or 'their money

    I've analysed some of the videos and
    sales letters targeting this group.
    They all are tightly worded and
    focussed to exploit the vulnerable.

    The products are almost always 'short
    cuts' that lead nowhere, rather than
    to a mountain of gold.

    So I agree, knowing WHY you want
    something IS important. And money is
    rarely WHAT you want, it is simply
    a MEANS.

    Thank you for writing
    this post.


  31. thomas cook says:

    Lynn,,I agree with a plan,,,,,,,i am a business coach,,,but with marketers i see they all say the same thing,,,some of this is hype to get people in there group,,,i have seen this with real estate people to seell no money down partner and myself are going to join your special group to share in website and marketing tips..he is skeptical i hope the group turns out to be as your asistant and ads say,,,see you soon.......tom cook

  32. Phil Bartek says:

    This post made me feel like I've been hit by a 2 by 4! Thanks - I needed that!

  33. Setting your goals is a fun task. It's almost like opening up a book of "this is what I want to have in my life". Odd thing is, most people never get what they want because they don't know WHAT they want. I'm guilty of that myself. It wasn't until recently (within the past 6 months) that I realized what I really want. I want to me the Youth Marketing Manager for Walt Disney World Resorts in Orlando Florida. I also want to earn money online by blogging and affiliate marketing. My financial goal for the online venture is only $50,000 a year. So it's totally possible.

    Once you set your goals...then you have to take steps to achieve them. You can't just pull a "Secret" and sit on your duff and will things to you. So here's what I've got going on now.

    I'm finishing my 2nd semester in college towards my marketing degree. I also blog several times a week and actively write articles to support my online venture.

    I also own/operate a home inspection firm. Since the housing marketing really stinks now, I work at JC Penney part time to make up the lost funds.

    The point here is...I have my goal in my sights and I'm actively working towards it. Jolly good. Jolly good indeed.

    Good post Lynn. You're an inspiration to us all.

  34. J.R. Lora says:

    Actually three things are vital... the what, how, and why!

    The "what" part of any iniciative is the goal or the milestone... the picture of a possible future or outcome and the main motivator.

    The "how" part is the toughest, where the work comes in.

    The "why" is the thing that drives us no matter how hard thinds get!

  35. The "WH" questions are that important in reaching a goal. What - lets you determine on what you would like to do. How - lets you list the things you will have to do to attain that goal and Why which I agree is the most important because this is the question that gives you the reason why do you want to attain that goal. A person do not do a thing if he has no reason for doing it. I love your article.

  36. Thanks a lot, Lynn for your tips on amalysing ourselves. I guess this scheme and these four questions can be asked and should be asked and answered in any project, business - in fact before even thinking about something new, otherwise, your start won't be succesful.

  37. Great post, especially this time of the year. I already set a few goals. My why is not hard facts but more a picture I have in my head of a happy and more successful me.

  38. I have found that too many people hate to make goals. I don’t know if this is because they are lazy or if they don’t want to hold themselves accountable. Either way, these are the people that will struggle to succeed.

  39. Eliza Harvey says:

    You have to be specific with the goals. It is one thing to say that the goal is to lose sixty pounds of body weight but it is quite another thing to say that the goal is to lose sixty pounds of body weight by walking after dinner every night for thirty five minutes. The second way is much more specific and gives a plan of action that can be followed and gauged. The second way is also open ended. When the every night walking is gauged to be working but not well enough to lose the desired body weight in a reasonable amount of time a second specific action can be added.

  40. I agree with you, not knowing the "Why" might make the end very pointless. Because a lot of people don't really know why they wanted something after they have obtained it.

  41. Very Nice topic, First we know our targets then we should be able to reach, most of people don't know what they are doing and why ?
    One thing I most like in the post money is not a target it's result. The filling of stratification and achieving goals make as proud.


  42. You must have the Why if your going to even began setting goals, this being my hardest part of setting goals.

  43. Soma Sarkar says:

    Really a good topic you raise. A goal doesn't have to be sweeping to be valuable; small goals are worth working on, too, because they can lead to big changes. For instance, "One month from now, I will work three hours less a week BY becoming better organized", is a perfectly acceptable specific goal. Anyways nice article. I enjoyed and waiting for your comment on my comment.

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