National Park Service
Heritage Preservation Services   —   Historic Preservation Planning Program

Introduction »

Typical Planning
Process »

General Planning
Guidance »

Local Plan
Examples »

What You Can Do »

Sources of
Information »

Companion »

Return to...

    Planning Home »

    Services »

NPS Cultural
    Resources »

Historic Preservation Planning for Local Communities

A Typical Planning Process

Step 6. How Will We Achieve Our Vision? Developing Goals and Objectives

The purpose of developing goals and objectives is to outline a course of action that will help us achieve our vision of the preservation future. Goals and objectives do this by identifying ways to resolve issues, minimize threats, and take advantage of opportunities identified during the planning process.

Goals and objectives should be broad-reaching enough to aim for our vision for the future, yet detailed enough to guide our decision-making on a regular basis.


A goal is a general statement of desired future condition – it is an end toward which actions are aimed.

A goal is usually not achieved in the immediate future. There are typically two kinds of goals……

  1. Those that are never fully and completely achieved, and action taken to achieve the goal is ongoing.
    • Example: Increase the level of public knowledge about cultural resources.

  2. Goals that describe a future condition that can be fully achievable, but in the far-distant future.
    • Example: Incorporate historic preservation as an element in local, regional, state agency, and federal land management plans.

Crafting Goals

Writing goal statements needs careful attention so they communicate clearly what you intend, and so they truly help guide our actions toward achieving our vision – our desired preservation future. Clearly stated goals also help us measure our progress toward that future.

  • Single Message. Goal statements should be concise and contain a single outcome.
  • Level of Detail. The amount of detail contained in a goal statement needs to be carefully balanced with the planning cycle of the plan, so that goals can, for the most part, be achieved by the end of the planning cycle.
  • Use Action Verbs. Goal statements typically begin with a verb that represents some sort of action that can be taken in a particular direction. Examples include increase, decrease, improve, strengthen, conduct, reduce, develop, celebrate, designate, and other similar forward-looking, action-oriented verbs.
  • Verbs to Avoid. Some verbs create ambiguity and should be avoided, such as:
    • Cheerleading verbs, such as encourage, promote, and foster. Cheerleading in preservation is always good, and cheerleading verbs can be appropriate in goal or objective statements that deal with public relations, publicity, and celebration kinds of activities. But when these verbs are used in place of a more relevant action verb, the intended outcome is unclear.

    • Help and Support Verbs, such as assist, ensure, help, provide, support, and similar kinds of verbs imply a single actor doing the helping. These verbs are more appropriate in a management plan for an organization, rather than a jurisdiction-wide preservation plan.
    • Maintain the Status Quo, as in goal statements that begin with Continue to do, or Maintain, are basically saying, “keep doing what we’ve been doing, we don’t need to change anything.” Because one of the purposes of a plan is to direct change, a goal to maintain the status quo doesn’t do much to move us toward our desired future.

Verbs to Avoid

Partner with
Work to [do...]
Work with


An objective is a statement of measurable activity to be accomplished to achieve a goal.

An objective describes a specific outcome that is reasonably attainable and necessary to achieve a goal.

Objectives should be more detailed than goals, but they are not the equivalent of detailed, quantifiable, measurable, time-sensitive tasks typically found in an annual work plan.

Typically, there are several objectives for each goal.

Both short-term and long-term objectives can be established, such as objectives to be accomplished in 2-3 years, and in 3-5 years.

Crafting Objectives

Objectives, like goals, are phrased using verbs that denote action and direction.

As with goal statements, the phrasing of objective statements requires careful attention so that they say exactly what you intend them to say. The guidance presented above for goals is also applicable to crafting objective statements.


Additional guidance can be found in the Sources of Additional Information and the PLANNING COMPANION — just click on the menu links to the left. Also see Goal Setting from our Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program's Community Toolbox.

Go to Step 7 »


National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior FOIA Privacy Disclaimer FirstGov