What’s Your Goal?

Psychologists Heidi Grant Halvorson and colleagues found that when people create goals, there are two different classifications: (1) Be Good and (2) Get Better. I found it helpful in my own life to learn about this research, and I’d love to hear how it impacts you.

CalmUp® photo of geese heads under water

Heads Under Water

Those who fall into the Be Good classification focus on proving themselves, caring primarily about how they are perceived by others. For instance, they would go for the “A” because of their belief that getting the high grade would reflect on them as a person.

People who fall into the Get Better group focus more on improving themselves, and go for the “A” as a way to master the material. For those who fall into the Be Good category, their attention is on the outcome of the goal, whereas for those who fall into the Get Better category, their attention is on the journey itself.

CalmUp® photo of geese heads above water

Heads Above Water

The meaningful piece of this research is that people can change their pattern. For instance, whenever you find yourself attempting to Be Good, you might improve the quality of your life by shifting your intention to Getting Better. When you open to the usefulness for both goals, you’ll discover that success, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.


  1. Think about a short-term or long-term goal. Why is that goal important to you? Are you seeking more to prove or improve yourself?
  2. Perhaps you’ve experienced a long-standing cultural perspective about the importance of how you’re perceived by your community. If so, how could you begin to shift to an alternative belief that encourages incremental growth?
  3. What would you notice in your life by changing your goals from Be Good to Get Better or vice versa?