Writing Goals – Overview

A health goal is a statement about a long-term desired health result clarifying what you want to achieve. Goals are often positive statements–such as, improve food security, promote daily physical activity, and enhance bone health, rather than reduce hunger, decrease inactivity, or decrease osteoporosis.


Specific measurements and time frames are not generally included in goals. And goals are broad-based. Specific ways of achieving the goal belong in the objectives, strategies, and action steps. A community health goal is derived from a health priority or health concern. For example, if obesity is identified as the communitys health priority, then Promote healthy weight in the community could be the health goal. The definition for health goal, above, is based on a variety of resources.


There is no single standard definition of health goal, so different agencies and organizations define it differently. The definition for goal in these materials is broad and suggests that few details be written in the goal. If your organization uses a different definition or committee members prefer a tighter definition, then use another definition.


A key philosophy of this Moving to the Future resource is to provide guidance and not be dogmatic. Use what is helpful in these materials and modify them to meet your needs. Please note that it is common for a funding organization to have a goal for its grant announcement. This goal may be narrow, such as, promote fruit and vegetable consumption among African American men in order to reduce cancer risk or increase dairy consumption in the adolescent population. In this case, obviously, use the funding organizations goal when preparing the grant application. If your work is a match with the funding announcement then you can describe how the funding goal is consistent with your broader goal.


It’s also likely that the goal of a grant announcement may be related, but not an exact match, to your community health goal. For example, your communitys goal is to reduce heart disease and a grant opportunity for reducing obesity is announced. To make the connection between the grants goal and your community health goal you could include language such as, We want to reduce obesity because it is a major risk factor for heart disease. After conducting a comprehensive community assessment, our health team chose to focus on the communitys alarmingly high death rate due to heart disease. And, reducing the prevalence of obesity will positively impact this health concern.


Writing Goals. These materials include a definition of a health goal and a worksheet that can help you write a health goal based on the community’s health priority.


Healthy People 2020 Goals. This one-page document includes a brief description of Healthy People 2020, the two overarching goals, and goal statements from the nutrition-related and physical activity-related focus areas. Copyright 2006 Association of State and Territorial Public Health Nutrition Directors


  Writing Goals–worksheet : Use this worksheet to translate your community’s health priority into a health goal

Example Writing Goals Worksheets : See 2 example worksheets




People work together in a number of ways, in coalitions, partnerships, committees, teams, task forces, and so on. The tools in Moving to the Future will help you no matter how your group is structured. To make Moving to the Future friendly to people working together in different ways, we use these group terms interchangeably. So, if you are working in a formal committee and Moving to the Future uses the word team, the information applies to you as well.


In Moving to the Future, the word program is defined broadly and could encompass any group of activities including projects, services, programs, and policy or environmental changes.

Nutrition and Physical Activity

In Moving to the Future, we often pair the wordnutrition with the phrase physical activity, as for example in “address the nutrition and physical activity needs” or “develop a nutrition and physical activity plan.” This does not suggest that these materials are only useful to people working on community-based nutrition AND physical activity programs. You can use the Moving to the Future resources to develop a plan focused only on nutrition or a plan focused only on physical activity. Moving to the Future provides guidance on a process–not on content. In fact, these materials could be adapted and used to develop a teen pregnancy prevention plan, for example, or a plan for any other community health priority.

Be Flexible & Realistic

Moving to the Future principles Flexible and Realistic are the bywords of this approach. The intent of Moving to the Future is to provide guidance. Use what is helpful and modify materials to meet your needs. Planning and implementing community-based programs is not work that can be done perfectly. Do the best you can, given your real-world limitations, and commit to making improvements every year.