Are you the sort of person who has a clear vision of where you want to go in life, who then sets goals and takes action to help you get there?
If so, then you’ve probably already experienced the benefits of goal setting. If not, then this article aims to convince you that if you want to be successful, you need to have goals.
To set goals successfully, you should focus on process goals, not outcome goals.
What do I mean by that? I mean you should focus on establishing daily habits rather than chasing your big goal or dream.
For example, suppose you run a small business, and you want to double revenue this month. You might start by banging on doors and making phone calls every day. Suppose at the end of the month, that you’ve hit your goal. That’s great!
But not so fast. Unfortunately, you’re now likely to revert to your old ways. Why? Because behavior is not driven by your goals but your processes.
A better and more sustainable way would be to form the habit of making 20 sales calls each day. If you double your revenue, great, keep going. If not, all you have to do is adjust your habit. Maybe you could make 25 sales calls each day the following month.
When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.
If you focus on what you can do every day (your daily goal) rather than your huge lifetime goals you’re much more likely to be a successful goal setter and experience the benefits listed below.
With that, let’s jump in and examine some of the benefits of goal setting.
Sometimes, when you look at the big picture of your life or career, it’s easy to feel deflated. If you’re at a particular point in life and where you want to get to seems lightyears away, then it’s easy to feel down and give up.
Short term goals can keep you positively focussed on what you have to do here and now. You might have the ultimate goal of being fluent in French, but it’s much less daunting to focus on the goal of studying French for one hour today. Then another hour tomorrow. And so on, until eventually your ultimate goal of speaking French comes to you.
“I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals, and I try to ignore the rest.” Venus Williams
Another benefit of goal setting is that it can increase your motivation. In fact, there is a whole theory dedicated to this topic.
Locke’s Goal Setting Theory of Motivation explains that you can increase motivation by setting clear goals that challenge us (but not too much).
The theory also states that if you avoid setting goals which are too complicated and receive regular feedback as you progress towards our goal, then you’ll be much more motivated to push yourself to achieve your goal.
If you’re clear and precise about what you have to achieve each day, then it’s easier to avoid distractions.
If you have no goals, then it’s not clear what you’re supposed to focus on today, and it’s easy to get distracted. Why shouldn’t you browse Facebook for an hour if you’re not entirely sure what your priorities are for the day?
Now suppose your goal was to read for an hour a day. You might still be tempted to browse Facebook, but you’ll be aware that this behavior is taking you away from your goal. A goal like this will make you less likely to succumb to distractions.
We all have dreams. Somewhere we want to get in life. But rather than merely dreaming, goals help us take action today. They durn dreaming into action.
Goals keep us accountable to ourselves.
Suppose you have a goal to read an hour per day. If you fail at this goal, then you will know about it immediately. By knowing you’ve failed you’ll be encouraged to go back and examine why you failed. You can then reset and try again. You’ll be taking accountability for your initial failure.
Involving others can further boost your chances of achieving your goals.
A study by the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), found that if you tell another person about your goal, and then schedule an accountability appointment, you’ll increase your chance of achieving your goal by 95%.
Why? Because we’re social animals and what others think about us matters. We don’t want to lose face and admit we spent the day watching daytime TV when we should have been studying. The desire to save face makes us more likely drag ourselves from the sofa and invest the effort when we otherwise wouldn’t.
One of the biggest benefits of goal setting is that it helps us achieve our dreams. Without goals in life or business then we merely drift.
You don’t just wake up one morning and discover you are now a doctor. Likewise, you don’t just drift into being an astronaut or a successful business owner. You have to work towards these goals with dedication over many years.
Goals help us to achieve our aspirations.
They do this because once we know where we want to go, we start to take steps to get to our desired destination. We develop plans and milestones to help us along the way. Then each day we take action to move towards our goals.
Passion can be a beautiful quality.
Suppose you have set some big goals in life and you are working towards them. When you speak about your dreams and ambitions, you’ll come across not only as having ambition but also taking real steps to get there. You’ll appear to everyone listening as passionate about what you’re doing each day to move you towards your goals.
You’ll be someone with the drive, motivation, and passion to chase after what you want from life. This is deeply attractive and will set you apart from that majority who drift through life once they have settled on their chosen career. You’ll be making your life the way you want it rather than merely letting life happen to you.
Goals can help turn your dreams into reality. When we create goals, we then figure out the action steps and plans needed to achieve these goals.
If you set your goals correctly, by focusing on daily habits, you too can experience the many benefits of goal setting.
The Stages of Change Model
PANAS Scale (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule)
Honey and Mumford Learning Styles
PERMA Model of Well-being
Book Summary: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
The Dunning-Kruger Effect