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Last Updated on April 30, 2021

The 5 Unspoken Principles of Effective Goal Setting

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The 5 Unspoken Principles of Effective Goal Setting

Goal setting is an essential practice for living a happy and fulfilling life. Goals provide you with purpose, direction, and motivation. They give you something to strive for, and they force you to change and improve yourself to achieve them.

The act of setting goals isn’t always as simple as defining what you want and then going after it. There’s actually a science behind it that, if followed, enables the true power of setting and achieving goals.

Back in 1990, Professors Edwin Locke and Gary Latham published A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance, in which they identified five principles of effective goal setting:

  • Clarity
  • Challenge
  • Commitment
  • Feedback
  • Task Complexity

Their combined research makes a correlation between the achievement of our goals and the extent to which the five principles were present.

Basically, if you follow these tips, you will be much more likely to set effective goals and achieve them.

Let’s take a closer look at these 5 unspoken principles of goal setting.

1. Set Clear and Concise Goals

The first principle discussed by Locke and Latham was clarity. This means your goal should be very well defined and not be unclear or vague. You should be able to picture exactly what your life would look like after you achieve your goal and when you want it to happen.

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Unclear goals are a recipe for fumbling around, hitting roadblocks, and never really achieving what you want. After all, how do you know if you’ve accomplished a goal if you never really knew what you were after?

An example of a unclear goal would be “I want to lose weight.” A much better example of a clear, concise goal would be “I want to lose 10 pounds in 2 months.”

Having something concrete and measurable not only makes achieving your goals more likely, but also makes it much easier to track progress along the way. Knowing exactly what you’re aiming for will also help you avoid procrastination in the long run. If you find yourself struggling with this, check out Lifehack’s Fast Track Class – No More Procrastination.

2. Make Your Goals Challenging

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” -Andrew Carnegie

Having a clear and concise goal isn’t enough to make it an effective one. It’s nearly as important to make sure that the goal you set for yourself is also challenging. It should be enough to test your character and make you feel like you’ve really accomplished something[1].

Going back to the weight loss example, would you honestly feel good about yourself if you committed to losing just 1 pound over the course of 2 months? You could essentially do nothing the first 7 weeks and then fast the night before your deadline to hit your mark.

When engaging in goal setting, your goals have to be something worth fighting for. The research from Locke and Latham shows that challenging goals inspire increased performance. Meaning the level of effort you put in is directly related to the difficulty of the goal.

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Have you ever heard someone say, “Wow, s/he really rose up to the challenge of the occasion!”

That’s Locke and Latham’s theory in action. The more difficult the goal, the more effort you exert to achieve it, and the better the sense of accomplishment you get from it.

3. Truly and Deeply Commit to Your Goals

People perform better when they care about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, and the same applies to goal setting.

Try to think about the tasks you accomplish on a day-to-day basis at work. Which ones do you put the most effort into and which ones do you as quickly as possible just to finish them?

It’s the emotional commitment to your goals that gives you the motivation you need to accomplish them. If your personal goal is to lose weight, but you don’t actually care or need to, then why would you feel motivated to drop those unnecessary pounds?

To be successful, you need to make sure the goals you set are something you truly want and can fully be on board with in the short term.

4. Review Feedback on Your Progress

“Goal setting is most effective when there is feedback showing progress in relation to the goal.” -Prof. Edwin Locke

In the process of goal setting, you need to have feedback along the way to ensure you’re staying on track and making progress towards your goal, and to take stock of what’s working and what’s not.

Let’s, once again, return to the example of weight loss. If after two weeks you’ve managed to gain 5 pounds, you may need to tweak your routine a bit.

You wouldn’t want to wait until the 2 months is up and realize that you aren’t even close to achieving what you set out to do.

Set some time aside every so often to step back, review your goals, and track your progress. Doing so will help you hit your mark and keep you motivated along the way.

5. Break Down Complex Tasks Into Simpler Tasks

If you’ve followed the second principle and set a challenging goal for yourself, it will probably have many complex tasks associated with its achievement. These tasks can be daunting and extremely overwhelming, especially when starting with a stack a mile high.

You have to break down these daunting tasks systematically into simpler, less-complicated tasks that are easier to approach and overcome when goal setting.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” –Lao Tzu

However, nothing that is worth doing will ever be completely easy. There will undoubtedly be simple tasks that frustrate you and test your will to continue. That’s just the fact of the matter, especially when learning to accomplish something new.

Knock down the barriers, and keep progressing forward with your smaller goals over the long term.

Summing It All Up

The next time you sit down to assess or set your goals, don’t forget the principles you learned in reading this article. Using these principles will ensure you’re setting effective goals and will dramatically increase your chances of achieving them.

Like most things in life, the goal setting process is a practice that must be worked at. Keep the principles in mind, implement them in your life plans, and witness the greatness you will be able to achieve.

More Tips on Goal Setting

Featured photo credit: Surface via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: Why You Should Stop Setting Easy Goals

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Tom Casano

The CEO and Founder of Life Coach Spotter

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Last Updated on January 14, 2022

7 Best Goal Planners To Get in 2022

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7 Best Goal Planners To Get in 2022

A few of the many obstacles to setting goals is that you either forget your goals entirely or you put them off for so long. One of the most effective tools in handling this problem is through having goal planners.

Goal planners are a way to put your goals to paper and allow you to focus on that goal. These are great tools to be implementing new habits and boosting your overall productivity.

With so many of these goal planners available, our editors picked out a small sample of some of the best goal planners that you can get to achieve what you want in 2022!

Best Goal Planners Criteria

Through our research, all the best goal planners that we picked out meet the following criteria:

  • Undated – A big issue with some planners is that they have days and years written in them. This is problematic especially when starting out goal setting. Undated versions allow you to start, stop, and take breaks without feeling like you’re wasting paper.
  • Science based – Either in their methods or in the activities these planners get you to do, these goal planners are smartly structured to help you get the most out of your day.
  • Simple, clean and organized – All of these planners are clean and organized to the point that these planners can serve as an extension of your brain. They’re able to easily organize jumbled thoughts and help you plot out your goals.

1. Full Life Planner

full-life-planner

    Lifehack’s Full Life Planner is a planner system built around the Full Life Framework. It’s a planner that helps you to organize every aspect of your life. The Framework has been going strong for 15 years and provides some of Lifehack’s best practices and proven success formulas.

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    Get your Full Life Planner here, or try the digital version here.

    2. Panda Planner

      The Panda Planner has been highly reviewed as another one of the best goal planners to get. On top of it providing sections for monthly, weekly, and daily planning, it offers free videos as well as e-books to show you all kinds of strategies to help in all kinds of aspects of your life.

      You can get the Panda Planner here.

      3. Law of Attraction Planner

        This is the planner for people that want to manifest something new or exciting in their lives. It helps you to set goals through prompts, to-do lists, and goal-setting tools to establish habits. On the manifestation front, it provides sections for you to show gratitude, allowing you to be thankful for what you do have and are working towards. The planner also comes with a video to help establish a 10-minute morning routine and various stickers to make your planner more unique.

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        Purchase the Law of Attraction Planner here.

        4. Little More Daily Organizer

          While it only has 328 undated pages, it offers a great focus on monthly and daily goal setting. It’s ideal if your goals and habits that you’re invested in and really want them to be sticking. How it’s able to do that is through its flexible design and also providing space for you to outline actions steps, reflect on processes, and prioritize multiple goals.

          Grab your Little More Daily Organizer here.

          5. Erin Condren Petite Planner

            Only 80 pages long, it’s efficient with its space as its packed with all kinds of features for setting goals and stick to your plans. You’re able to describe your goal, outline a “why”, and put together an action plan. The other page is a way for you to chunk large goals and put them into more manageable tasks. All around it’s a fantastic planner.

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            Try the Erin Condren Petite Planner here.

            6. The 100-Day Goal Journal

              If setting goals for a year seems daunting, another one of the best goal planners that’s short is the 100-day goal journal. It has monthly spreads, daily reflection pages where you’re able to practice gratitude and check overarching goals. It even has space for you to reflect on current challenges and offer solutions to your problems.

              Take a look at the 100-Day Goal Journal here.

              7. SELF Journal

              best-self

                The final of the best goal planners we have to offer is SELF journal. It offers daily gratitude acknowledgement, sections to track goals on a weekly basis and also has inspirational quotes to provide that extra push of motivation. It’s only got enough pages for 13 weeks, but it’s ideal if you set a lot of shorter-term goals and want those small habits to stick.

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                Check out the SELF Journal here.

                Final Thoughts

                All of our goals are achievable with the proper mindset and a system to support it. Planners have been able to precisely assist those who struggle with getting started and need help in organizing their thoughts and putting it to paper.

                For those who want to stick to habits, try out one of these planners to help you with that process.

                Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

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