How often do you set goals? How often do you revisit your list?

We all know that setting goals are important, but we often don’t realize how important they are as we continue to move through life.  Goal setting does not have to be boring. There are many benefits and advantages to having a set of goals to work towards.  Setting goals helps trigger new behaviours, helps guide your focus, and helps you sustain that momentum in life.

Goals also help align your focus and promote a sense of self-mastery. In the end, you can’t manage what you don’t measure and you can’t improve upon something that you don’t properly manage. Setting goals can help you do all of that and more.

What are the Benefits of Goal Setting?

According to research, goals not only affect behaviour as well as job performance, but they also help mobilize energy which leads to a higher effort overall. Higher effort leads to an increase in persistent effort.

Goals help motivate us to develop strategies that will enable us to perform at the required goal level.  Accomplishing the goal can either lead to satisfaction and further motivation or frustration and lower motivation if the goal is not accomplished.

5 Proven Ways Goal Setting is Effective

Dr. Gary Latham studied the effects of goal setting in the workplace. Latham’s results showed there is indeed a link that is inseparable between goal setting and workplace performance.

Locke and Latham also stated that there are five goal-setting principles that can help improve your chances of success.  Goal setting helps in the following 5 areas:

  1. Clarity
  2. Challenge
  3. Commitment
  4. Feedback
  5. Task Complexity

Clarity is important when it comes to goals. Setting goals that are clear and specific eliminate the confusion that occurs when a goal is set in a more generic manner.

Challenging goals stretch your mind and cause you to think bigger. This helps you accomplish more. Each success you achieve helps you build a winning mindset.

Commitment is also important. If you don’t commit to your goal with everything you have it is less likely you will achieve it.

Feedback helps you know what you are doing right and how you are doing. This allows you to adjust your expectations and your plan of action going forward.

Task Complexity is the final factor. It’s important to set goals that are aligned with the goal’s complexity.

How Does Goal Setting Motivates Individuals?

Research tells us that goal setting is important on both an individual and a group basis. Locke and Latham have also shown us that there is an important relationship between goals and performance.

Locke and Latham’s research supports the idea that the most effective performance seems to be the result of goals being both specific and challenging. When goals are used to evaluate performance and linked to feedback on results, they create a sense of commitment and acceptance.

The researchers also found that the motivational impact of goals may be affected by ability and self-efficacy, or one’s belief that they can achieve something.

It was also found that deadlines helped improve the effectiveness of a goal and a learning goal orientation leads to higher performance when compared to a performance goal orientation.

Does Setting Goals Lead to Success?

Dr. Gail Matthews, a clinical psychologist from the Dominican University of California actually did do valid research.

Matthew’s research shows that those who write down their goals and share their goals with a friend, as well as send weekly updates, were on average 33% more successful when it comes to accomplishing their stated goals compared to those who merely formulate goals.

The Importance of Goal Setting in Business

Setting goals is vitally important for everyone, especially those in the business world. Most of us have been taught from a young age that setting goals can help us accomplish more and get better organized.

Goals help motivate us and help us organize our thoughts. Throughout evolutionary psychology, however, a conscious activity like goal setting has often been downplayed.

Goal-setting theory helps us understand that setting goals are a conscious process and a very effective and efficient means when it comes to increasing productivity and motivation, especially in the workplace.

Deadlines also improve the effectiveness of a goal. Goals have a pervasive influence on both employee behaviours and performance in organizations and management practice according to Locke and Latham (2002).

Specificity tells us that in order for a goal to be successful, it must also be specific. Goals such as I will do better next time are much too vague and general to motivate us.

Something more specific would be to state: I will spend at least 2 hours a day this week in order to finish the report by the deadline. This goal motivates us to action and holds us accountable.

Goals must, of course, be attainable, but they shouldn’t be too easy. Goals that are too simple may even cause us to give up. Goals should be challenging enough to motivate us without causing us undue stress.

If we are continually given goals by other people, and we don’t truly accept them, we will most likely continue to fail. Accepting a goal and owning a goal is the key to success.

One way to do this on an organizational level is to bring team members together to discuss and set goals.

When a goal is accomplished, it makes us feel good. It gives us a sense of satisfaction. If we don’t get any feedback, this sense of pleasure will quickly go away and the accomplishment may even be meaningless.

In the workplace, continuous feedback helps give us a sense that our work and contributions matter. This goes beyond measuring a single goal.

When goals are used for performance evaluation, they are often much more effective.

While goals can be used as a means by which to give us feedback and evaluate our performance, the real beauty of goal setting is the fact that it helps us learn something new.

When we learn something new, we develop new skills and this helps us move up in the workplace.

Learning-oriented goals can also be very helpful when it comes to helping us discover life-meaning which can help increase productivity.

Performance-oriented goals, on the other hand, force an employee to prove what he or she can or cannot do, which is often counterproductive.

These types of goals are also less likely to produce a sense of meaning and pleasure. If we lack that sense of satisfaction, when it comes to setting and achieving a goal, we are less likely to learn and grow and explore.

Setting group goals is also vitally important for companies. Just as individuals have goals, so too must groups and teams, and even committees. Group goals help bring people together and allow them to develop and work on the same goals.

This helps create a sense of community, as well as a deeper sense of meaning, and a greater feeling of belonging and satisfaction.

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