What are the different types of goals?

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Ziglar


Internal goals are about changing your psychological constitution, or mental representations of the world and how you interact with it. They are goals which are very specific to yourself, and how you interact with the world.

For example:

  • increasing self-confidence or self-esteem
  • overcoming phobias
  • extending your personal boundaries
  • improving your health and fitness



Skills goals are about learning, or improving skills you have. Thus, they might include linguistic goals, music, sports, or art goals. They could also include inter-personal skills, such as empathy, delegation or management skills.

For example:

  • becoming fluent in Spanish
  • giving a concert recital on the piano
  • improving your ability to manage a team
  • gaining a black belt in Tae Kwan Do



External goals are goals which have their outcome outside of yourself. They tend to be fairly generic goals which could be shared by a number of people. Thus, external goals could be about material possessions, events, relationships, travel, business, or the community etc.

For example:

  • purchasing a house
  • buying a new car
  • starting a home recycling system
  • having a novel published by the end of the year
  • visiting a foreign country
  • attracting a suitable mate


Goals can be categorised in two other ways too:


Open-ended goals do not have a specific target date for completion – they are about an on-going process. Thus, they are more often goals to either change or create new habitual behaviours.  These types of goals are called COMMITMENTS in the Big Big Goals Club.

For Example:

  • exercise three times per week
  • save $300 per month
  • spend two hours per week reading
  • review the sales performance twice per month with each member of the sales team…

Open-ended goals can sometimes be more effective if they are re-phrased into closed goals. To do that normally requires a slightly different outcome. While this might be a change in emphasis of the outcome, it is not necessarily a change in the means or method of achieving the goal. Changing an open-ended goal to a closed goal often can be achieved by making your goal an example of what you can do as a result of your changed habitual behaviour – eg. a demonstration of your new fitness levels, or having enough money to lay down the deposit on a property for rental income.

Open-ended goals are particularly useful for very simple goals which are achieved by a single simple action repeated on a regular basis, where there is little psychological resistance to taking the actions necessary to completing the goal.



Closed goals have a target date for completion. Consequently, they tend to be more powerful in creating change. The reason why they tend to be more powerful is due to their inate ability to create a sense of urgency. If there is no specific reason to take action today, then our natural reaction can be one of procrastination or laziness due to taking the path of least resistance! Closed goals, however, help give you a reason to take action today as they have a deadline for their completion, which also can help to provide you with a time-mapped understanding of what needs to be done, and when.

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