ARTICLE: “Have Your Goals And Eat Your Spaghetti Too!”

Do you have goals? Yes? Good! Do you know the characteristics of good goals? Yes? Even better! So, do you follow the rules when setting goals for yourself? 

Let’s test your knowledge. Is “write a book” a good goal? How about, “lose weight”? If you answered, “no,” to both, you’re correct! Why? Good goals provide direction or measurement. How much weight? By when? How will it be measured? How will you lose it? A good goal answers these necessary questions and acts as a path to guide you in your activities.

I use the term “SPAGHETTI” to describe the nine components of good goals:

1. S—pecific. “Sell more” isn’t specific. How much? 20 items per month? “Lose weight” isn’t specific. How much? 15 pounds?

2. P—ersonalized. Begins with the words “I will,” so that your goals are phrased positively, with a future focus of successful completion.

3. A—ction. A good goal indicates HOW you intend to accomplish it. Diet, exercise, and meal planning are all action steps of losing weight.

4. G—ift. What will be your reward once you’ve accomplished the goal? Give yourself something exciting to shoot for. A vacation? A new sweater? A night out? What is motivating enough for you to make you want to strive for it? It can also be intrinsic, such as increased self-esteem, more confidence, an ability to land a better-paying job, etc. If the “WHY” is strong enough, the “HOW” becomes easier.

5. H—ard. You want your goal to be realistic enough that you’re not going to set yourself up to fail and bang your head against a wall; however, you want it to be difficult enough that it’s going to make you stretch a bit and challenge you. 

6. E—valuate. Have some sort of number attached to your goal so you can easily determine your progress. You can measure your progress, hopefully in numbers, percentages, milestones, dates, etc. One pound per week would be a unit of measurement that can be determined by stepping on the scale. Can your goal be expressed in %? Number? Items? Reduction? 

7. T—angible. Goals must be written down, or else you will tend to edit in your head as you go along. A classic Harvard study indicated that only 3% of people have written goals, and they earned more money than the other 97% combined! Keep your goals in front of you at all times.

8. T—ime Bound. What is the target date? Good goals have a start and stop date. When should you realistically be able to accomplish the goal?

9. I—nspirational. The goal should be uplifting and phrased positively. Have confidence in yourself! We tend to rise to the level of our own self-esteem. I WILL do (x).

For example, let’s take the poor goal, “Lose Weight,” and apply the SPAGHETTI model:

1. S—pecific: Lose 30 pounds at one pound per week for 30 weeks

2. P—ersonalized: “I will”

3. A—ction: Diet, exercise, meal planning

4. G—ift: Buy new St. John suit

5. H—ard: It’s realistic, but I’ll have to work at it

6. E—valuate: I can measure my progress by stepping on the scale every Saturday

7. T—angible: Write it down several times and post where you can see it

8. T—ime Bound: Starting now, ending 30 weeks from now

9. I—nspirational: YOU CAN DO IT! You will feel so good!

Example wording:

“I will (verb) at (measurement) by (date) through (actions) because (motivation). I will evaluate my progress by ( ). I will reward myself though ( ).

Poor goal: “Lose weight”

Better: “I will lose 30 pounds at 1 pound per week over thirty weeks through diet, exercise, and meal planning beginning (x). I will weigh myself on Saturdays to evaluate my progress. This is important to me for my self-esteem, health, and energy. I will buy myself a new suit when I achieve my goal.

Now it’s your turn. Pick a real goal and write it using the SPAGHETTI model, spelled out. Then send your goal to me at [email protected] (I’m collecting them for my book). I won’t use your name, but I will send you the e-booklet “49 Ways to Celebrate Your Overflowing Life” as a gift.

ã 2002 Laura Stack, MBA, CSP. All rights reserved. Portions of this newsletter may be reprinted in your organization or association newsletter, provided the following credit line is present:

Laura M. Stack, MBA, CSP, is “The Productivity PRO,”â helping people leave the office earlier, with less stress, and more to show for it. She presents keynotes and seminars on time management, information overload, and personal productivity. Contact her at 303-471-7401 or visit her website at