Book Review: Goal Analysis by Robert F. Mager

goalAnalysisBook Details

Title: Goal Analysis (Image from [1]

Author: Robert F. Mager (Mager is a heavyweight in the field of training and performance improvement. He is Ph.D. in Psychology at the State University of Iowa [2])

Rating on goodreads: 3.82/5

Pages: 159


Everyone wants to do something, something big, something revolutionary for the betterment of people around him/her or society at large. Some people set goals for their life (visiting all the states of India), goals for the year (visiting Ladakh) or goals for the month. Some people make career goals, personal fitness goals and goals to excel in exams. So, in essence people make various goals in life and strive to achieve them.

Goal can be easy of measure e.g. of becoming more physically fit or can be more abstract e.g. a work-life balance. It is known that achieving a goal becomes easier if it is clear. Defining a goal clearly makes the path that leads to the goal easier and the actions to achieve the goal become clear. As mentioned in the book, one of the crucial things in achieving a goals is to clearly define the goal, e.g. If you want to reduce your weight, the first thing to define is how much weight you want to reduce and within how many months. This will make you conscious of your measuring your current, desired weight and you can now break your goal in smaller monthly targets.

One of the key learning from the book is to define your goals in a more measurable way. If you can’t measure your target, you may not be able to measure your actions towards the goal and also keep track of your progress. One of the important questions to ask is

If another person had set a goal similar to yours, Can (s)he achieve the goals by performing the same actions as you are performing?.

Personal example

Let me try to illustrate through my personal experience of reducing body weight. During ~ March-June 2018, I was trying to reduce my body weight. Although I had committed the mistake of not defining the target weight I wanted to achieve, however there were few things which were as per this book. My actions to achieve the target were (1) daily evening jogging (~4 km), 2) exercise (few set of exercises), 3) diet control) 4) Logging my calorie intake (through food) and spending (physical activity) in an app 5) Regularly measuring my weight to track my progress, and 6) Plotting the measured weight (using the app). All the actions are measurable and hence I was able to reduce my weight.

When you can measure an action, your mind can easily get the feedback on whether you are doing the fixed action and also if the action is being done properly.

Your goal should talk about the ends rather then about the means. e.g. understand foreign trade rather than developing an understanding of foreign trade. Then, you should also define the goal in such a way that someone else can also figure out if you have achieved the goal and how you yourself will find out that you have achieved the goal. In some measurable goals like passing an exam, reducing your weight, it’s easy but for goals like work-life balance, it can be difficult. You can list down various actions which are required to achieve the goal and you can segregate the actions in actions which you are already doing, actions for which you are self-sufficient and actions for which you need other’s help. You can also plot a chart to track your progress towards the goal. If progress in two three actions define your progress towards the goal, you can plot them separately.


  • Define your goals clearly and in measurable way so that someone can also say that you have achieved your goals.
  • List down your actions to achieve the goal. Ask if the actions are measurable and sufficient.
  • Track progress of the actions.
  • Review periodically your progress.
  • By repeating steps 3-4, you will surely achieve your goal.


Note:  Please leave your comments to let me know what you liked the book review and what else I can add for the review to be more useful.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s