How to Set ABC Target Goals

Remember that old adage “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” Well, that same mindset can (and should!) be applied when it comes to working towards our goals! After all, you won’t be able to run a marathon the first time you put on running shoes and I highly doubt anyone is able to cook a souffle perfectly the first time they try!


Many people set those BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals) with the best of intentions. However, if they don’t have a roadmap of how to break that BHAG down into smaller, more manageable steps, it’s easy to get lost along the way. Eventually, frustration sets in when we haven’t made the progress we want and we give up because those 50 pounds haven’t magically melted off by themselves.


One of the simplest, yet most effective ways to create that roadmap is by using ABC Target goals (hint, if you’ve ever attended my goal-setting keynote session Dare to Be Different! 3 Keys for Goal-setting Success, you might remember this)! ABC Target goals is an approach that takes the overall goal you’d like to accomplish and breaks it down into smaller, logical milestones. This creates a step-by-step map you can follow that will help guide you to your ultimate goal.



Let’s say your overall goal is to make 10 sales or prospecting calls per day. Step one might be to create a list of your top 100 prospects, as well as a list of your existing customers. Step two would be to add an hour window to your calendar each day that is completely devoted to making those calls. You may not make the 10 calls every day at first (especially if you get caught on the phone with a Chatty Cathy!), but having that roadmap of your client and prospect list, along with the dedicated time on your calendar, will certainly put you on the right path.


For another example, check out this downloadable resource here. As you can see, the overall goal is to be gluten free. Step one is to research information online about being gluten free. You might search for articles about foods that have hidden gluten in them (I’m looking at you salad dressing!) or start creating a folder of gluten free recipe and meal plans. The next step is to reduce your gluten intake (which would also involve monitoring how much gluten you’re consuming, whether it’s just a mental calculation or using one of the various gluten free apps available). That progression will eventually help you lead a gluten free lifestyle.


There are a number of benefits to breaking down goals into the ABC Target framework. It helps you not to get overwhelmed when you think about that BHAG you set, because you now have a process in place that makes it easy to see what steps to follow to stay on track. As one blogger shares, “The big advantage of breaking down your goals into tasks is that it creates small, actionable and achievable steps for you to take. There is no doubt that you can complete each individual task, which gives you the confidence to move swiftly toward your goal.”


FUN FACT: The term BHAG was coined in the book “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.

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