Best Of, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Self Improvement / Healthy Living

Target VS Mission: Smaller Goals VS Larger Goals

In the military we’re trained to accomplish missions, and in order to accomplish mission—large scale ones—often, the military will set up smaller targets to accomplish that will eventually lead to the accomplishment of the primary mission.

This can be useful as a way of looking at goals.  If a person has a larger goal, in order to reach that goal, they have a lot of little goals that they, most likely, have to accomplish first.  This is the same as the military strategy of mission and targets.  To accomplish a larger goal, a person needs to know exactly what it is.   What’s the mission?  What is trying to be accomplished?  A new job? More money?  Better health?  You need to know what the mission is.  A soldier always knows what his mission is—and if he doesn’t know, someone screwed up along the chain of command.

Once the larger mission is established, we need to establish a series of targets that we need to get, take down, achieve, destroy, etc; in order for us to achieve our mission.  There may be as many as ten, twenty or thirty targets, or as few as five, three, or even just one.

Make a list of all possible targets that you’ll need to accomplish in order to achieve your goal.  Let’s say that you want to lose thirty pounds.  In order to complete your mission, you’ll need to accomplish certain targets, some examples might be: Get a gym membership, buy some weights, throw out all the junk food in the house, start that first day, keep it up for a week, lose that first five pounds, get a personal trainer, eat healthier, run everyday, etc.  These are all targets that, once accomplished, can help lead you towards achievement of your ultimate mission.

Now, once you have all your targets picked out, you’ll need to refer back to the post I did on the CARVER system—basically, the CARVER system is a military system about figuring out which target to accomplish first, second, third, etc.

Once you know what your first target is, all you have to do is accomplish that one certain thing.  You don’t have to loose thirty pounds, all you’ve go to do is achieve every target and the mission will complete itself.

Let’s say that you go through the CARVER system and you discover that the most important target for you to get first is to throw out all the junk food in the house.  All you’ve then got to do is throw out all the junk food in the house, and you’ve already got one target achieved.  Then go on to the next one, and the next one, etc.

This is pretty much the goal achievement method of the military.  It’s what we use in the hospital, it’s what the infantry guys use, it’s what the Special Forces guys use, everyone uses it.  Whether you’re trying to capture an enemy combatant or just accomplish a personal goal, this is the best way to do it.

Primary Mission VS Secondary Mission

One thing that comes up during missions, and when figuring out what your targets are, is the discovery of secondary targets, or secondary missions.  Keeping with the above example, let’s say that you mission is to lose thirty pounds, but let’s say that your secondary mission is to have a toned stomach.  (Another example would be, say you’re hunting the leader of a terrorist force, the primary objective would be to kill the leader, and the secondary objective would be to kill his second in command, etc.)

Your secondary mission is going to effect how you select and accomplish your targets.  Let’s say that one of your targets is to go to the gym and work out an hour a day.  Going to the gym and working out works on your primary target, but if not done appropriately it won’t help out with your secondary target.  So at the gym, a way to set yourself towards success in both would be to, when working out at the gym, do a series of exercises that focus on calorie burn and focus on building stronger abdominal muscles.


1)   Write down what your primary mission is.

2)   Select a series of targets that need to be reached in order to accomplish your mission.

3)   Use the CARVER system to see which targets are of the most importance.

4)   Decided if there’s a secondary mission.

5)   Figure out what primary targets correspond with secondary targets that would help with the accomplishment of the secondary mission.

6)   Use the CARVER system again.

7)   Accomplish the first target.

8)   Second Target

9)   Third Target

Mission Accomplished!

Looking for a good book on military targets and goals? Then check out the book “Unleash the Warrior Within,” by Richard Machowitz. It’s one of my favorites!

Related Posts:

The CARVER system Part 1

The CARVER system Part 2

I Will Never Accept Defeat.  I Will Never Quit.

What the Military Teaches About Self-Discipline

Best Of, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Self Improvement / Healthy Living

The CARVER System For Goals – Part 2

Since my latest blog post about military time management, a lot of people have sent emails asking for a longer description of the military’s CARVER system.  So I decided to elaborate.

As stated in my previous post, the military’s system of time management is broken up into the CARVER system.

  • Criticality –the importance of a task.
  • Accessibility –is it easy to reach? Are the resources needed to do it readily available?
  • Return – What is the return?
  • Vulnerability –How long will it take?
  • Effect – Once the task is done, what will be the overall effect? This is slightly different than return. Will it have a bigger impact on the organization or the well-being of the individual?
  • Recognizability – finally, is the task clear and concise? No task can be done quickly and effectively with incomplete information.

Take your goals and rate them within the CARVER system.  Ex:  Say that you want to loose 20lbs, and you want to learn to speak French.  In the CARVER system, you would take the goals and start off by rating it within the Criticality category.  Let’s say that someone is more concerned with losing weight then learning French.  Losing weight may bet a rating of 4 and learning French may only get a rating of 2.  Then someone would rate their goals within the Accessibility category.  How easy is the goal to reach?  To lose 20lbs a person would have to buy new healthy food, they’ll have to get a gym membership or some type of weights.   To learn French a person may only need to purchase a few CD’s or a book.  The person would then continue within the rest of the categories and see where each goal rates.

(The higher score the better.)

Lose 20lbs Learn


Learn How to Cook Clean The


Criticality 4 2 4 3
Accessibility 2 4 3 5
Return 5 1 3 3
Vulnerability 2 1 3 5
Effect 5 2 4 2
Recognizability 4 3 3 3
Total: 22 13 20 21

So based on CARVER a person who has the above goals, should put their focus on losing 20lbs – that’s the most important goal with the highest reward; the next goal to be focuses on, or to be focused on simultaneously, would be cleaning the House – since it can be done quickest and easiest with the highest return.

The best thing about the system is that it allows you to objectively look at your goals and see which are the most important – compared to which are the easiest – compared to which produce the highest return.
Related Posts:

Part 1 of the CARVER system

Smaller Goals VS Larger Goals

What the Military Teaches About Self-Discipline

I Will Never Accept Defeat.  I Will Never Quit.