Clarify Meaningful Results


During my Influencer training, one of the key concepts we drilled into was “clarify meaningful results.”

What are meaningful results?

Well, before you waste time on the “how” — clarify the “what” you want, the “why” you want it, and the “when” you want it.

3 Criteria for Meaningful Results

The 3 keys to an effective results are:

  1. Specific and measurable.
  2. What you really want.
  3. Time bound.

In other words, it’s quantitative, not qualitative, it’s focused on the outcome you care about, and you’ve attached a completion date to it.

The Key is Connecting to Values

If you’re familiar with SMART goals, this might seem familiar, but the key for me is the connection to values.

It’s one thing to have specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely goals.

It’s another to set your eyes on the prize that you really want and are motivated by.

Also, make sure it’s what you really want, just in case you might actually achieve it.

Photo by thrig.


  1. To me this looks like you are just leaving out the “A” of “SMART”: (1) = SM, (2) = R, and (3) = T.

    A big problem with SMART is that the R means something else to many people. For you, R means “what you Really want”; which corresponds nicely with my idea of “relevant”.

    Having 5 (or 6, 7 if you want to satisfy alternative possibilities for the R like “Realistic”) makes it too difficult for people to set any goals. Manager Tools solved that by leaving out S, A and R and make people concentrate on the two least obvious of the 5 goal qualities.

  2. This is a GREAT point: “Before you waste time on the “how”, clarify the “what” you want, the “why” you want it, and the “when” you want it.” I’m about to present something to the CEO of my company and reading this post has inspired me to revamp my presentation in order to make it easier to understand (and more meaningful). Thanks for the great ideas!

  3. Hi JD,

    Great point about making sure that your goals are what you really want. I remember wanting to get into law school and when I got in, I realized that I really did not want to be a lawyer. I completed my education anyway because at that time, I was not sure what I wanted.

    When I graduated, I ended up taking time to figure out what did I want my life to be like and began working on it. The funny thing is that I ended up going back to law and getting many steps closer to my goal. So you never know how those goals will be met but knowing what you want and being clear about it are key.

  4. I recently read an article about defining what you really want. A woman said she wanted to learn to type faster so she could get a raise, wanted a raise so she could buy a house, etc. It turned out that what she really wanted was the house, but she had fixed her mind on achieving that through a series of channels that, in reality, may or may not be necessary. This article really got me thinking about how we define our goals and how important it is to keep your eye on your biggest goals while working on all the smaller ones.

  5. “Also, make sure it’s what you really want, just in case you might actually achieve it.” This made me smile. 🙂

    I do agree: I’m getting better at thinking goals through before I race to achieve them.

  6. @ Rob

    That’s a good breakdown.

    One of the issues with SMARt goals is that it should really be SMART objectives. Goals set the direction, but objectives are the achievable milestones along the way.

    I think what trips people up is that they get caught up in what’s easy to measure, and very quickly lose sight of what was so compelling to achieve in the first place.

    I’m a fan of keeping goals simple, but then getting super specific with the objectives. I think it helps avoid language traps.

    @ Positively Present

    Good luck with your CEO! If it helps, I lead with my why and it really helps set the motivation for presentations. It’s a compelling way to start.

    @ Nadia

    Your story is a great reminder to check that our ladder is up against the right wall. Our motivations can easily shift, especially as we gain more clarity and get more mindful about what we really want. It’s a constantly unfolding process.

    @ Melissa

    I agree. Part of the challenge is that we start with fuzzy goals and learn more as we go. We need more agility in how we define goals, and we need to really keep in mind what we want to accomplish. I know it sound simplistic, but just asking “what do you want to accomplish” really does help untangle what you’re after … or asking “why?” 3 times is another effective technique.

    @ Vered

    I’m finding the why really helps. If the why is compelling enough, there are so many ways to make it happen.

  7. Hi J.D.

    Great post as always, what I love most is you are bring up an important point for everyone to think about, “What you really want.”
    Thanks for sharing.
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

  8. Having smart goals is necessary….. can only agree.
    What about the ” meaningfulness” of the SMART goals. Meaningful to whom ? you…. others….. ?Would you have any simple test for this ?

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