Three Simple Questions to Sharpen Your Goal Setting Skills

Excerpted from Chapter 16 of “Now That’s A Great Question.”



In the 50’s the stated goal of NASA was: “Leading the World in Space Exploration.”

Then John Kennedy became President and changed NASA’s Goal to: “Land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth before this decade is out.”

What was the difference between the two goals?

The first goal certainly sounds noble enough—but what is missing?

What does the second goal have that the first goal does not?

The second answers the 3 simple questions that every goal should answer:

X to Y by When?

  • X? Where are you now? What is your current reality?
  • Y? Where do you want to go? What will be your finish line?
  • By When? When is the exact date you want to cross the finish line?

Let’s run the 1950’s NASA goal through the test: Leading the World in Space Exploration.

  • X? What is the current reality? Unknown
  • Y? Where do you want to go? Vague. What will be your finish line? Undetermined.
  • By When? Unknown.

Let’s run John Kennedy’s NASA goal through the test: Land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth before this decade is out.

  • X? What is the current reality? Earth—no American had been to space.
  • Y? Where do you want to go? Moon—and return him safely to Earth. What will be your finish line? A successful launch, landing, and re-entry.
  • By When? December 31, 1969.

Which decade would you have wanted to work for NASA? The 50’s or the 60’s?

In which decade was the goal crystal clear? The 50’s or the 60’s?

Please pull out your goals—personal and organizational. Do they clearly answer the three questions of X to Y by When?

If Yes—please pat yourself on the back!

If No—how can you restate them so that they will clearly answer the questions of X to Y by When?

What will the benefits be to you and your organization if your goals are written so that X to Y by When? is clearly stated?

What are the benefits of having a clearly stated finish line?

You have just read the “Chapter 16” from “Now That’s a Great Question.”  You can request your free download of the entire book to read the other 29 Chapters by clicking “HERE!”


Bob Tiede


Bob has been on the staff of Cru for 52 years. He currently serves on the U.S. Leadership Development Team and is passionate about seeing leaders grow and multiply their effectiveness. Bob and his wife, Sherry, live in Plano, TX and are blessed with 4 incredible children and 8 remarkable grandchildren.


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