Goal Setting

The importance of setting goals

Your guide to goal setting

In essence, goal setting is a practice that means people will commit to future objectives or achievements and work out a plan that they will try to stick to in order to accomplish them. The idea is that it is really a form of planning that tries to move you on from your current situation to a new, improved one. As such, setting goals in a formal or even semi-formal way tends to improve focus. It also often means that you can keep your 'eyes on the prize' more effectively by helping you to avoid distractions and other calls on your time that do not work towards the objective you have set for yourself. Setting goals will often mean committing to a level of effort in order to achieve them, but by their very definition, the goals ought to be rewarding in some way.

Where is goal setting used?

Some people use the practice of setting goals to achieve their life aims. For example, someone who wants to be more self-confident will often set themselves the goal of talking to a stranger at least once a day. Equally, someone who wants to spend more time with their family may set themselves the goal of leaving work early one day a week. It is also used in businesses to set targets against which performance will be measured. A typical goal that might be set in a commercial environment is to achieve a certain level of sales, for example, or to work without errors for a set amount of time. Sportspeople will often use goal-setting in their training regime to help them improve their skills and fitness ready for when they compete.

Can goal setting reduce stress?

By breaking up a big task or a life ambition into smaller goals and then setting targets against each of them, stress can be reduced. This is because large jobs often seem unimaginably hard to achieve, which will mean feeling stressed out because no progress is made. However, goal setting will usually include some degree of stress. This is because if a goal is set, that is too easy and requires no effort, then it is not really a goal after all.

What methods are used in goal setting?

Some people use so-called SMART objectives to set goals that are possible but not too easy. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goals. Only when these five criteria are fulfilled satisfactorily can goal setting be said to have been completed. Although this method is often used in business, other methods like working toward key performance indicators (KPIs) are sometimes favoured.

How can goal setting improve motivation?

By setting goals, you will have undergone an exercise in thinking about what you really want. If your goal setting is effective, then it will motivate you to take steps toward your life's ambition. With achievable goals that feel like you are making progress, so your motivation should remain good throughout the process.

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