10/03/2020 by Kevin Thomas
Setting & Achiving Goals
Do you ever feel like you’re sleepwalking through life with no real idea of what you want? Perhaps you know exactly what you want to achieve, but have no idea how to get there.
That’s where goal setting comes in. Goals are the first step towards planning for the future, and play a fundamental role in the development of skills in various facets of life, from work to relationships and everything in between. Understanding the importance of goals and the techniques involved in setting achievable goals paves the way for success. A big part of achieving goals is having regular pit-stops to review your performance. Based on my own experiences in life (personal and professionally) and research, I've broken out the five most important things to ensure your goals are achieved. Based on my own experiences in life I wanted to share three examples of goal setting in what I believe are critical topics, Psychological Health, Relationships and
Remember, dreams without goals are just dreams! In order to achieve your goals you must apply discipline & consistency, everyday!
Commitment refers to the degree to which an individual is attached to the goal and their determination to reach it – even when faced with obstacles. According to Locke & Latham (1990), goal performance is strongest when people are committed, and even more so when said goals are difficult. Given the commitment to a goal, if an individual discovers their performance is below that which is required, they are likely to increase their effort or change their strategy in order to attain it (Latham & Locke, 2006). When we are less committed to goals – particularly more challenging goals – we increase the likelihood of giving up. In the presence of strong commitment, there is a significant association between goals and performance; we are more likely to do what we intend to do. (Latham & Locke, 1991). According to Miner (2005), a number of factors can influence our commitment levels. Namely, the perceived desirability of a goal and the perceived ability of achieving it. Whether you are setting a goal for yourself or for others, in order to be successful you must possess the desire and a comprehensive understanding of what is required to achieve it.
Specific goals put you on a direct course. When a goal is vague, it has limited motivational value. Set clear, precise and unambiguous goals that are implicit and can be measured. When a goal is clear in your mind, you have an improved understanding of the task at hand. You know exactly what is required and the resulting success is a further source of motivation.
Goals must be challenging yet attainable. Challenging goals can improve performance through increased self-satisfaction, and the motivation to find suitable strategies to push our skills to the limit (Locke & Latham, 1990). Conversely, goals that are not within our ability level will not be achieved, leading to feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration.
We are motivated by achievement and the anticipation of achievement. If we know a goal is challenging yet believe it is within our abilities to accomplish, we are more likely to be motivated to complete a task (Zimmerman et al., 1992).
4. Task Complexity
The timescale for such goals should be realistic. Allowing sufficient time to work toward a goal allows opportunities to reassess the goal complexity, whilst reviewing and improving performance (pit-stop). Even the most motivated of people can become disillusioned if the task’s complexity is too great for their skills.
Unambiguous feedback ensures that action can be taken if necessary. If performance falls below the standard required to achieve a goal, feedback allows us to reflect upon our ability and set new, more attainable, goals. When such feedback is delayed, we cannot evaluate the effectiveness of our strategies promptly, leading to a potential reduction in the rate of progress . When we perceive our progress towards a goal as adequate, we feel capable of learning new skills and setting more challenging future goals.
Descriptions of Goal Setting in Practice
Goal setting is a robust method of support for positive mental health (Rose & Smith, 2018). When considering the goals you would like to achieve in relation to psychological health, think about what you want to change and how you want to go about changing it. Achieving goals in any aspect of life can boost self-esteem and self-efficacy, leading to improvements in confidence and well-being. Janet has been thinking about her well-being and wants to make changes to improve her mental health. Within this area, goals such as “I want to be happier” are too vague and will create barriers to achievement. Janet settles on the more specific goals of “I will do one thing every day that makes me happy”. This is much more realistic and can easily be reviewed.
Interpersonal goal setting allows us to create higher quality relationships characterized by improved responsiveness that ultimately enhance relationship quality for everyone involved. "Toby decides he wants to spend more time with his family, after thinking about how he can do this he feels that the problem may be related to the many late nights he has been spending at work. Toby decides, “I will make sure I am home from work every night before the children go to bed”. While this may seem like a specific goal, there is still much ambiguity. What if he has to work late in order to meet a deadline? Both he and his children will feel disappointed and frustrated with this outcome. After reviewing his goal, Toby makes some alterations and thinks that the goal, “I will make sure I am home from work 2 days a week so that I can see the children before bedtime”. By adding specifics, he has made his goal more achievable and measurable. On reviewing his goal progress, Toby might then decide to change his goal to three times per week if experience tells him this is attainable.
Money, or lack thereof, can massively influence our mental health and well-being (Mind, 2016). It is impossible to know what life will throw at you – illness, redundancy, unexpected expenditure. In this category, like many others, short term, smaller goals are often more likely to result in success. Perhaps you have debt that you want freedom from or even just a rainy day savings fund. Whatever your financial goal, small positive steps to taking control of your finances can make a big impact. Jenny has been thinking about her finances and decides she wants to start building her savings. Rather than setting the vague goal, “I want to save money”, she thinks in more detail about her objective and sets the goal “I will save $500 in the next 8 weeks”. By making the goal more specific and measurable, Jenny has improved the likelihood of actually achieving her goal. The goal can now be reviewed as and when she decides to and it will be clear if she is on track.
In brief, the guide is broken down into 5 steps:
- Identify your goals with a focus on being realistic and specific.
- Break down these goals into smaller steps.
- Identify potential obstacles between you and your goals.
- Build a schedule and allow adequate time to pursue goals.
- Do it!
I hope you took something from this. Best wishes in achieving your goals. KT