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Published on February 3, 2021

Understand Goal-Setting Theory To Make Your Goal Happen

Understand Goal-Setting Theory To Make Your Goal Happen

We all have goals, whether we realize it or not. Dreams, hopes, visions of the future—these are all, in some way, a goal. The thing to remember about goals is that to be able to focus on them for the future, you have to recognize that they are goals and that they are something that you should be working towards. This is where the idea of a goal-setting theory can help you.

But what is goal-setting theory and why is it important for you to try out for yourself?

What Is the Goal-Setting Theory?

The Goal-Setting Theory was created by Edwin Locke in 1968. The main aspect of the theory was that it helped employees to feel motivated to be as productive as possible both in work and outside of work.[1] It looks at the importance of having goals that were well-defined and set out as well as how feedback on these goals are given and received.

Locke knew that goals have to be not only realistic but also clear and defined. Many people set goals that are too vague in their nature. While this may make more sense to them at the time when it comes to achieving those goals, things are not going to be quite as easy as you may think.

There were five principles of the goal-setting theory created by Locke:

  • Clarity. A goal should be specific and clear
  • Challenge. While a goal should always be realistic in its nature, it should still challenge you.
  • Commitment. Your goal should have a positive outcome—a buy-in that is going to keep you looking towards it
  • Feedback. You should receive feedback throughout the process, helping you keep your goal on track (this will often mean that you need to involve someone else).
  • Complexity. If the goal is complicated and is going to take some time to complete, then it may be better to break it down into smaller goals along the way

Why Is It Worth Setting Goals Yourself?

The idea of the goal-setting theory is to help you achieve any goals that you may have. But to actually do this, first, you need to have goals in mind. You may be happy with how life is going at the moment and think that you don’t need to make any changes. But the truth is that we all have room for growth.

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Here are some of the main reasons why it is worthwhile taking the time to set goals and look to your future, whether that is at work or in your personal life.

1. It Allows You to Take Control of Your Life

Do you ever feel that you are simply sleepwalking through life? That you are not in control of what you want or what you need? This may simply be because you are not in control of your own life. By setting yourself goals, you are effectively taking control of your life and where it can take you.

Of course, there are going to be things that get in the way and that can get you off track, but you are still going to feel much more ready to take control of your own life and where it is going.

2. It Gives You Something to Improve on

By taking the time to set yourself goals, you are acknowledging that there is more that you can do in your life. Complacency is not always a good trait to have. particularly when it comes to your working life.

It is always a better idea to give yourself something to improve on—to identify ways that you can make changes and build on what you know and what you can do.

Goals are the targets for those changes. They are your aim and they are what you will look forward to, even when things are not going quite the way that you want them to.

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3. They Are Your Focus

We can all get distracted from time to time. Even when we know where we want to go, it can be hard to be laser-focused on whatever it is that you want to achieve.

When you have a set goal, you are giving yourself a light at the end of the tunnel. You have something that you can look at and think about for the future. This is less likely to result in you drifting off and ending up out of course.

4. They Motivate You

It can be hard to keep working towards something. Life can get in the way and put a roadblock on your plans. Motivation isn’t always something that comes naturally, and we all have times when we want to give up.

If you don’t have a goal that you are looking forward to in the future, then there is a much greater chance that you are going to give up when it gets hard.

A goal is a target, it is something that you know that you need to strive for. This means that you are definitely going to feel more motivated to keep trying and to keep pushing forward, even though it might be difficult at times.

5. They Can Impact Other Parts of Your Life

You may have set your goal for a very specific part of your life, such as your fitness or your career. However, the good news is that you can apply this to other parts of your life too. When you know how well a goal can work for you, then you will feel ready to set them for other things.

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Before you know it, you will be a goal-setting expert and you will be able to change a variety of parts of your life and make sure that you are the best that you can be.

The Goal-Setting Process

Now that you have a better understanding of the goal-setting theory and know that you want to set goals and understand how they can be valuable to you, you are going to want to know the actual goal-setting process.

1. Write Down Your Goals

The first thing to do is to write down your goals. You might have them in your mind, but by writing them down, you are making them real and giving them force. This will be the driving force behind you achieving them in the end.

2. Make Them SMART

Next, you need to make sure that you make them as SMART as possible. SMART stands for Measurable, Achievable, Specific, and Time-based, which is the way wherein you can take a vague and weak goal and make it something that you can actually do in the future.

It is great to set a SMART goal, but you need to be able to actually meet its requirements. You must know how you are going to measure them along the way. How will you know when you have achieved them? Or how will you know whether or not you are on the right track?

3. Have a Deadline

You need to also set a deadline for your goal. Having a time-frame in mind will help you to create a sense of urgency, which will drive you towards your end goal. It is important that the deadline that you set is realistic and something that you can achieve.

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Although, of course, it is worth remembering that if things are not quite working out how you hoped that they would, then you can make changes. You can also break down a bigger, longer-term goal into smaller chunks, which will help you to stay on track.

4. Know Your Obstacles

We all hope that we are going to be able to reach our goals with minimal issues, but there is always a chance that things are going to crop up along the way. By knowing what risks there may be and what challenges may come up, we can try to be more prepared for them.

There may be curveballs along the way, but for the most part, you should be able to identify the issues that could be there and look for ways that you can get through them.

Final Thoughts

Goals are something that can benefit us all. Sure, it is going to be hard to set them and then even harder to reach them. But it is always worthwhile trying for yourself.

While it is important to live in the here and now, it is still good to look to the future too. After all, without focusing on where you could be, how will you ever know what you can achieve?

More Tips on Goal Setting

Featured photo credit: Ronnie Overgoor via unsplash.com

Reference

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Fabio De Sio

LIfe Coach & Motivational Speaker

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Last Updated on May 12, 2021

How to Create a Personal Strategic Plan for Your Goals

How to Create a Personal Strategic Plan for Your Goals

Creating a personal strategic plan is necessary to achieve your goals. Most companies do that, but for some reason, some talented, motivated individuals don’t. It makes no sense and yet, people broadly think about their goals but don’t create a personal strategy to achieve them.

In this article, I’m going to address that as it is one of the most critical single tasks you can do to change the course of your life.

Defining Your Personal Strategic Plan

Let’s start with the perfect example of John (pseudonym). As a child, he played football, baseball, and basketball, but he wasn’t great at any of them.At the age of 15, he tried to join the basketball team and failed. He was too short and managed to get in to carry the uniform of the star player. The story continues as he continued to practice hard, waking up at 6 am each day, and after a year finally making it to the basketball team that lost the first three tournaments.

He continued practicing even harder and eventually became perhaps the most influential basketball player of all time—Michael Jordan.

You might argue that it is definitely a combination of raw talent and hard work for athletes. Still, no one can say that without practice and working hard for years on the same goal, this hard-working individual would have never achieved his achievements.

This is why it is crucial to define your strategy and then pursue it. It cannot guarantee that you’ll become a world-class athlete, but it can guarantee that you’ll have the best chances of getting to your goals with your unique set of capabilities.

We’re going to provide you with research-based proven methods of preparing your personal strategic plan.

What Is a Personal Strategic Plan?

According to an article in the Journal of Management Research, “effective personal strategy means being able to think in multiple time frames, clarifying what one is trying to achieve over time as well as what needs to be done in the short term to get there.”[1] In other words, it means setting a vision and a plan to execute it.

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A growth mindset is essential when preparing a personal strategic plan. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be ambitious enough—and if you’re here thinking about your long term goals, it means that you likely already have a growth mindset.

According to an essay in Harvard Business Review, “individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).”[2]

The main trait that is associated with success is planning. It is sometimes more important than talent.[3]

There are many methods for building your personal strategy, and I’m going to cover some of them. They all share an understanding of a high-level vision, a sense of your values, and practical steps on how to get there.

Horizons of Focus

David Allen is one of the leading time management specialists globally with his famous book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. One aspect of time management is the understanding of what you need to get done in a personal strategic plan.

His method includes the following horizons:

Horizon 5: Purpose and Principles

This is where you set your vision for life. Of course, this is a big thing that requires you to think about what you would be happy with accomplishing decades from now. Sub-questions are which jobs, lines of industry, impact, and legacy are you interested in.

An excellent method to examine that is by using the “five whys” process. In this simple method, you should ask yourself “why” to help you understand the real reasons for choosing your vision.

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For example, if you want to become a successful entrepreneur, you can ask yourself why that is. If the “why” is to make an impact, you can ask yourself additional questions, such as whether this is the best way to do that.

If you decide that it is, you might wonder why you want to create an impact. Perhaps it is because there is something you deeply care about.

Your vision shouldn’t be only on professional goals; it should be on every life goal you care about. A bad example would be: “To be the most successful entrepreneur ever.” It is not unique and does not address your inner wants and needs. A good one would be specific, non-generic for you and your personal goals.

By choosing a long-term goal specific for you, you can continue to the next step of figuring out how what the next few years will look like.

The second part of this horizon is principles. By choosing your principles, you can re-examine your choices and see if they amount to your expectation from yourself.

Horizon 4: Three- to Five-Year Vision

Now that you have clearly defined your goal in life as part of your personal strategic plan, you can plan the next few years. Every ambitious goal takes time to accomplish. You should plan how to get there and understand that flexibility is vital during these times, as there are a lot of changes going on.

This is when you decide on specific goals, such as a career path. If you aim to be a writer, and your goal is to become a columnist in the New York Times, what would get you there? If your dream is to start a successful startup, what can you do to learn the right things to qualify you as a leading entrepreneur?

When considering the next specific moves you should take, it is always recommended to find a mentor to consult with. This is someone you look up to and picture their life as one that you would like to have. They are usually at least 10-15 years older and successful in achieving their goals.

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What would be the next step to get you to your vision? This is not an easy question to answer, but broadly speaking, you should envision a road that can’t be 100% clear sometimes and still takes you in the right direction.

Horizon 3: One- to Two-Year Goals and Objectives

What objectives will the next year hold?

Let’s say that you chose a specific career path. Now, you should focus on the main criteria and key performance indicators that would help you get there. That may seem far from your vision, but visions are, by nature, a bit far out.

If you decided that you want to be a successful entrepreneur in five years to impact climate change positively, but you still don’t feel that you have the knowledge to do that, a first step might be working for a startup that’s doing that.

When you take a look at the first year of working for that startup, it might be a good idea to understand your job requirements and prepare to be excellent doing them. By doing that, you’re on the right path to your dream.

Horizon 2: Areas of Focus and Accountability

After learning what you need in order to plan the next few years, we’re now getting to the important daily stuff. What are the primary few things that are important for your success in achieving your goal?

This is the part when you understand your day to day responsibilities and excel at making them. Making a daily to-do list may be helpful at this stage. This is one way to hold yourself accountable when you decide on the daily steps you’ll need to take to carry out your personal strategic plan.

This is also the horizon that will help you avoid procrastination, as you’ll have a clear idea of what to do and when. If you fall into a rut of procrastination, check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination.

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Horizon 1: Projects

These are the open loops of your goals that need to be achieved. One example can be editing that company movie. Another might be finishing that report. It can also be personal things, such as organizing the birthday party for your brother.

You have tons of these, and every once in a while, it is suggested to ensure that they align with the higher-level goals you have.

After you add everything to your calendar, the last step is to actually get it done. You can use tons of project management systems, such as Monday, Asana, Notion, and others. In Notion, they actually have a prepared template for this suggested method.

Additional Methods

The above method is just one out of many for developing your personal strategic plan.

Another one is called V2MOM, invented by Salesforce’s founder[4]. The idea is to ask yourself five questions—some of them were also asked above—which would help you clarify your vision and get it.

The five questions are:

  • Vision: What do you want to achieve?
  • Values: What’s important to you?
  • Methods: How do you get it?
  • Obstacles: What is preventing you from being successful?
  • Measures: How do you know you have it?

Final Thoughts

As mentioned, knowing where you want to go and preparing for it has a huge impact on your success in life. That may seem obvious, but some ambitious people don’t manage their lives in a way that helps them position themselves in the best way possible to succeed. Spend a few hours thinking and coming up with a personal strategic plan to put yourself on the right path today.

More About Goal Planning Strategies

Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

Reference

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