Goal setting is an important exercise in life; without goals, we would just drift along. The setting of goals allows us to be proactive, instead of just being reactive. Goal setting theory is one of the most valid and useful motivation theories. Research in goal setting shows that specific and difficult goals let to better task performance than vague or easy goals. Rather say “I am going to get 90% for my next Accounting test” (a specific goal) than “I am going to do my best in my next Accounting test” that is vague and abstract.
Many of us have learned to set SMART goals:
Remember, goal setting is just the first step to achievement and isn’t an exercise that you can finish in five minutes. Goal setting is a process, a route to achievement. There’s no guarantee you will always reach every goal you set for yourself. But if you apply SMART goals, you have a much better chance of success.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to set goals that are really huge, and that can be intimidating later on down the road. It is important to strike an appropriate balance between a challenging goal and a realistic goal. Setting a goal that you’ll fail to achieve is de-motivating. It is important to think about the goals you set for yourself. It must be realistic expectations and it must not be based on the behavior of other people – make it your own. Goal setting is a powerful way of motivating yourself – which, in turn, improved performance. Take baby steps to reach your goal instead of on big giant step. Employers are more likely to appoint someone who has reached his/her personal goals.
We do not live in silos. Our goals together with the action plans may have an influence on your personal life and career. Planning for the future is very important even if those plans may change. One way in which we plan for the future is by setting goals. Goals may be either short or long term goals. Short term goals are often a stop along the way to our long term goals. Align your goals with your values. If your goals don’t reflect your beliefs and character then you’ll have difficulty achieving it.
Be flexible when setting goals. If you encounter barriers that seem like they might impede your progress, don’t give up on your goals. Instead, modify them to meet your current situation. If a particular goal becomes something that is no longer important to you, then you should be open to letting it go. We actually set goals regularly when we plan what we want to accomplish that day, week or month. Define your goals and list all the steps you must take to reach your goal. Your performance will be much better if you are committed to the goals you have set. Share your goals and action plans with other people and establish a support system. For goals to be effective, you need feedback that reveals progress in relation to the goals. Set due dates for each step and reward yourself as you reach certain milestones.
It’s important to recognize your own strengths and shortcomings. Ask yourself if your goal is reachable within the time frame and whether you have the necessary resources and knowledge to achieve your goal. If you have one big goal, break it down into smaller parts. Sometimes, small goals can mesh together to create a large one. Actions you take to accomplish goals will play a huge role in whether you reach your goal. Sometimes, we can’t do everything all by ourselves. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Elbert Hubbard an American philanthropist said: “Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal”.
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