When you pack your bags and head towards an Airport, ready to board a plane, you usually have a pretty good idea about where you wanna go, right?
There aren’t too many people who go to the Airport and request a ticket to whatever destination is available soonest. Unless they have a very compelling reason why they need to leave the country immediately and they really don’t care where they end up… But that’s another story.
What is Goal Setting?
Back to the flight example: You packed your togs and sunhat anticipating to spend the next two weeks relaxing on Tahiti. You see yourself sipping tropical cocktails, decorated with tiny colorful umbrellas, while you hang poolside and soak up the sun. And lo an behold, things unfold just as you planned. But instead of being in awe by making your wish come true, you are not the tiniest bit surprised.
Why? Because you knew exactly, where you wanted to go, when you wanted to go there and why you wanted to go there. And you took all the necessary steps to get there.
Thus, the outcome wasn’t a miracle, it was the result of goal setting and taking action to achieve those goals.
While most people are completely aware of this process for creating their perfect holiday, they are blissfully unaware that they stumble through the rest/or at least parts of their life without clear goals. Sometimes even without a direction. That’s like going to the Airport requesting a ticket to “wherever” and then complain that the togs you brought really don’t serve you well in Alaska.
So, back to the question: What is goal setting? In a nutshell: Successful goal setting is a two-step process:
1. Deciding on and committing to a specific goal.
2. Creating and following an action plan that guides you to achieve this goal.
Importance of Goal Setting
Ok, so you understand why you should set goals. But you might still be wondering, just how important goal setting really is. Is there any research that suggests, setting conscious goals will work for you to boost your performance? There is indeed.
The idea of setting goals is certainly nothing new. Back in ancient Greece, good old Aristotle, one of the most influential Greek philosophers, already hypothesized that purpose could lead to action. Building on this hypothesis, Edwin A. Locke started to work on the goal setting theory in the 1960s and spent decades researching the close relationship between goal setting and performance. In his article “Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives” he states three core findings:
- Harder goals correlate with higher performance levels.
- Specific hard goals create better results than unspecific hard goals.
- Your intentions regulate your choice behavior.
In other words: Don’t sell yourself short. Challenge yourself and aim for the stars! No, actually, aim for a SPECIFIC star. And then let your destination (a.k.a. goal) determine the steps you choose to get there, the new skills you acquire, and the way you treat everyone – including yourself – on your journey.
This is just one of the many studies that show how important goal setting is for achieving business goals and personal goals alike (“Setting goals, not just roles: Improving teamwork through goal-focused debriefing“, “Motivation through goal setting“, just to mention a couple). Even health goals are easier to achieve when you set yourself clear goals (“Assessing the effectiveness of a goal-setting session as part of a structured group self-management education programme for people with type 2 diabetes“).
5 Amazing Benefits of Goal Setting For Life And Business
All right, all right, what’s in it for you? Let’s look at 5 ways you’ll benefit from setting goals in your business and personal life:
- You gain clarity on your desired end result.
- Knowing your end result allows you to start at the end and work your way back to identify the steps you need to take in order to reach your goal. It inspires creativity and requires you to put your problem-solving hat on.
- Ordering those steps into an action plan gives you a roadmap to follow that will guide you where you wanna go. It helps you focus and devise strategies.
- Your goal should be specific and measurable, so you know when you have reached it, or when you reach important milestones on your way. This gives you the opportunity to celebrate your progress and your successes instead of just marching on.
- Having a big overarching goal gives you the motivation you need to push through when things get tough.
So, whether you finally wanna lose some weight, learn a new skill, make more money – get clear on what you wanna achieve. Be aware that those aren’t great goals yet – they are more like general directions.
Going back to the holiday scenario, those are like requesting a ticket to “whatever tropical island” destination is available. But if you wanna go to Tahiti, you have to be more specific and book a ticket to Tahiti.
So whatever you wanna achieve, make it specific:
Instead of saying “I wanna lose weight”, make it “In order to fit into my dream wedding dress, I wanna lose 5 pounds until January, 1st, 2019”. That statement answers the basic “what,” “when,” and “why” questions. Being that specific makes it easier to stick to your plan and measure your progress.
How to Set Goals And Achieve Them
A few tips to keep in mind when setting your goals:
- Write your goals down. In as much detail as possible.
- While keeping your big desired end result in mind, focus on your successes along the way. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes you make on the way.
- The journey is the reward: Concentrate on all the new skills you learn along the way. They will help you grow and achieve other goals later on.
- Be as specific as possible so you can measure your progress.
- Assess your progress periodically and adjust your strategy accordingly.
- If you wanna kick things up a notch: Tell one or more people about your specific goal and let them hold you accountable for reaching your milestones.
What Are Your Goals?
I’m curious: What are your goals? Do you have defined business goals? And what about personal goals? Do you have specific written goals that you refer to?
In the name of accountability, feel free to share your big goal in the comments and I’ll make sure to cheer you on! =)
PS: Make sure to check out the free beautiful weekly blog planner I created. It will help you plan your weekly blog post with ease and confidence.