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Ability Goal Method



A dream without a plan is still just a wishful thought. Everyone has big dreams they wish to accomplish at some point in their lives, yet so many young people don’t know how to turn them into reality. There are plenty of goal setting methodologies that are in common practice today, but most of these systems are designed for objective goals, such as career and educational goals. But how do you set goals for learning a new skill that doesn’t have a definitive end point? Human skills, more often called soft skills, have subjective endpoints that systems like SMART goals can’t fully encompass.



Setting subjective goals requires a different mindset from objective ones. I have developed, as part of a project with the Civil Air Patrol, a goal setting system for this purpose. This system is called the Ability Goal Method that breaks goal setting into five aspects: Required, Heartfelt, Commitment, Outcome and Feedback. These criteria allow you to develop goals without trying to force a subjective idea into a small box.


If you aren’t sure where to start with your goals, think of a skill that is Required for you to accomplish your long term goals. The more integral that ability will be to your goals, the more extrinsically motivated you will be to accomplish it. Not only will this motivate you, it will all but force you to develop your abilities for the sake of your long term goals


After you’ve decided what goal you have in mind, you need to make sure that your goal is Heartfelt. This requires you to emotionally connect yourself with the goal you had in mind. Will you be proud of yourself for learning that new skill or ability? Then try to make that emotion your motivation for learning.


Now that you have a goal in mind, make sure that you are fully Committed to accomplishing it. The more committed to the goal and integral it is to your long term goals, the easier it will be to stay committed to it. Dedication is crucial to reaching the goal you’ve set.


All of the previous steps have been to make sure you are certain of the goal you have in mind. Outcome is the goal you have in mind. Rather than most other goal systems that set specific numbers, Outcome allows you to set a more general idea. Imagine what accomplishing that goal would look like. Would you be able to stand up in front of a group of people and speak with confidence? Would you be able to walk into a room of people and have them all look at you with respect? Or maybe you would like to be able to charm a group of people with charisma and leadership? These outcomes can’t be described precisely, but they can be visualized.


The last step is Feedback. Because these goals are subjective, you will always be improving as you pursue them. Improvement will require feedback from those around you. As you make progress toward the goal you’ve set for yourself, seek out input from more experienced people who can help guide you along your path.


While this goal setting system is not perfect, you may find it useful when pursuing self growth and development of human skills. I encourage you to look into other goal setting methods yourself as well and try to find the one that works the best for you.



1 Comment


Nathan Sisson
Nathan Sisson
Sep 02, 2022

Another great article written! I am most definitely going to implement this into my leadership for my team and my own self development.

Thank you!


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