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Last Updated on May 13, 2021

Understand Goal-Setting Theory To Make Your Goal Happen

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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?

Let’s look at goal setting. 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

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Reference

More by this author

Fabio De Sio

LIfe Coach & Motivational Speaker

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Last Updated on September 27, 2021

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

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8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

The importance of effective goal setting cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success. This is why there are countless articles out there on how to set your own SMART goals and even why it’s a skill commonly taught to a small degree in classrooms.

Learning the importance of goal setting and the benefits of sticking to those goals can be the defining factor determining whether we truly embrace the importance of goal setting. The more willing we are to embrace this method, the more likely we become to reach our personal definitions of personal and professional success.

Thus, this article is going to walk you through some of the benefits you’ll see from learning to set goals for yourself and answer the question — why is goal setting important?

1. Goals Guide and Align Our Focus

It’s hard to get to where you want to be in life if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Some people believe avoiding goals means living a more care-free life. How many times have you heard the phrase “If I have no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed”?

But is that really what our lives have come to? Living just to avoid disappointment? It doesn’t seem like an overly optimistic view in my opinion. And since you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you agree with me.

Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.

Without goals, we will pointlessly waste our time, energy, and efforts. Listen to anybody who is the top of their field and they’ll tell you something like this,

“Yes talent is important, but often your success depends much more on what you decide to do with that talent.”

And what you will do with your talent largely depends on your focus.

Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for. This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward.

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So, why is goal setting important? Because it gives you direction, alignment, and purpose!

2. Goals Help You Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

Basically, shiny object syndrome is always being in pursuit of the next big thing, constantly switching your goals based on what you feel is most fun and interesting at the given moment, but never actually giving yourself time to accomplish any of those goals.

You don’t get anywhere because you continually change the direction you are heading in. This is one of the consequences that may result if you decide to live a life without goals.

Your goals can sometimes help you to create mental barriers, or blinders, that help you to remain focused on what you think is important and avoid the things that are second priority. When you outline goals for yourself, you are better able to avoid things that distract you from achieving and accomplishing those goals.

Setting goals helps you to step around the other shiny objects because you’ve taken the time to make some mental notes that remind you what it is that you want from your life. Your goals act as subconscious deterrents to anything less than your main priorities. This is what helps you to reach your personal definition of success.

So, why is goal setting important? Because not only do goals tell you what you want from life, but they also help you realize what you need to give up and avoid to achieve that.

3. Goals Turn Our Largest Goals into Manageable Steps

A lot of us have big hopes and dreams. It’s one of the things that make our lives exciting!

But a lot of us never take the time to figure out how we can effectively get from point A to point B. So, sadly, we never fully achieve those goals. We look at our dreams and convince ourselves that only a select few people ever achieve them, so we write ourselves off as people not meant to reach that level of success. Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating, daunting, and discourage us from even pursuing them.

Thankfully, goal setting helps us break large intimidating goals into smaller ones. These small steps and more achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal. The form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families, and may even for our communities depending on how big your goals are!

Whenever I get talking about this aspect of goal setting, I can’t help but think about the mountain climbing analogy, and that the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step by step.

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So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting gives you a list of manageable steps that you can take in order to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to go both effectively and efficiently.

4. Goals Encourage You to Take Action

This builds on the last benefit of goal setting. Not only does effective goal setting help you break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, but it also encourages you to actually begin taking action on those goals. After all, a plan is completely worthless if you aren’t willing to invest the effort required to execute it.

Setting your goals and putting your plan in place motivates you to begin taking action towards achieving them. These goals give you something to plan and work towards. Essentially, they help propel you forward.

What I like to do is write out and place my goals somewhere that I’ll regularly see them. This constantly serves as a reminder of my top priorities. It allows me to focus on taking small progressive actions towards achieving these goals daily.

This ensures that I don’t fall into the trap of setting a goal, beginning to work towards it for a while, but then having my motivation fade resulting in me falling off track. This is exactly what many people see happen when it comes to their “New Year’s Resolutions.”

If you want to learn about how to take action towards achieving your goal, here’s how: How To Take Action Towards Your Goals Right Now

So, why is goal setting important? Because goal setting actually motivates you to stop thinking about your goals and actually get out there and achieve them!

5. Goal Setting Helps You Continually Improve

This is something that a lot of personal development and self-improvement writers talk about, continual improvement. For those of you who are not aware of the term, continual improvement is exactly what it sounds like — taking small steps towards improvement as frequently as you can to develop into the person you want to become.

What’s the point in improving a little bit each day if you’re not improving in the areas that you want to improve in after all?

The goals that you define for yourself will inevitably shape you into the person who you want to become. They’ll shape your character. Your goals can help you measure your progress as you strive for this type of development.

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Essentially, having goals helps you determine where you started, where you are now, and how much further you need to go. In this manner, your goal setting can serve as milestones and benchmarks that help you determine how well you’re progressing towards your most important goals!

So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting helps you make improvements each day that will slowly transition you into the person you want to become.

6. Goal Setting Keeps You Accountable

Not only does setting goals help you measure your progress, but it also is a means through which you can keep yourself accountable. Too many goals fail because they lack this crucial aspect of outlining accountability.

For example, if I have the goal to do 50 push-ups, that’s great. Most people would support that goal. However, this goal lacks accountability. When do I want to accomplish this goal by and what steps do I take to get there? These are important questions that the original goal leaves unanswered.

A much more descriptive and specific goal could be to do 50 push-ups within the next 3 months by starting at 5 push-ups, and then adding 5 each week. This goal outlines the deadline as well as the steps I’m going to take to achieve it. This plan will keep me accountable because if I fail to retain my progression schedule, I will know that I’m not going to achieve the goal on time.

Additionally, it can serve as a marker helping to signify when something is impeding my progress that I may not have initially accounted for. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and figure out what adjustments I can make to facilitate my success.

So, why is goal setting important? Setting goals is key to keeping ourselves accountable and on-track towards accomplishing our goals according to the schedules and deadlines we set for ourselves.

7. Goals Make You Feel Good

Trust me, the progress you feel as you set and achieve goals can become super motivating and super addicting (in a good way)! The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!

Having some clearly defined goals will help you to feel better about yourself and your life in general, especially when you stick to those goals, actively work towards achieving them, and end up accomplishing and surpassing your initial expectations. I’m not the oldest book on the shelf myself, but I can attest that there are not many feelings quite like the one you experience when you truly get on a roll!

Additionally, our goals give us an endpoint to shoot for. Rather than progress for progress’s sake, you can actually see where you’re heading! That’s so much more rewarding. Think about a long car trip as a kid. You ask “if you’re there yet?” ever 20 minutes. It seems like the drive drags on forever.

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If you don’t know where you’re going, you risk the journey becoming tedious. It doesn’t tend to be much fun wandering around aimlessly. Goals make us feel good about where we’re directing ourselves.

So, why is goal setting important? Because setting goals and accomplishing them plain and simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lives!

8. Goals Help You Live Your Best Life

I’ve talked a lot in this article about how goal setting helps us progress towards our top priorities and live the way we truly want to live. So I think it’s fit to end the article with this goal because, in the end, I feel it’s the most important one.

Setting your goals and clearly defining what they mean to you will help you live a life that is tailored to your beliefs and values. Your life will become directed towards the things that you most want to achieve.

Life is a tricky game and only in very rare circumstances are things handed to us on a silver platter. Often it takes a great degree of work, planning, and effortful execution of both.

There is no point clinging on to things in your life if they don’t bring you happiness or help you accomplish something that, in some way, aligns with your goals.

Simply put, setting goals helps us live a life that allows us to pursue the challenges and rewards that we truly want to achieve.

So, why is goal setting important? Because our time is always limited, and setting clearly defined goals can help ensure that you make the most of your life and live to the fullest! Find out more here: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the benefits of goal setting that outline why it truly is so important. If you take a moment or two, I bet that you can even think of a few more benefits yourself that you could add to this list.

If I could leave you with something, it would be this:

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Goal setting has the potential to take us to some amazing places in life because we all have talent and ambitions. To achieve your biggest dreams, you need to be willing to sit down and create a life design uniquely tailored to you that will help you achieve them!

More Tips About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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