People set goals to improve behaviour or to find a solution to a problem. Goal setting provides a long-term strategy for achieving success, and is widely used in the fields of sport, industrial and organizational psychology. It is also an increasingly popular lifestyle tool in the personal development arena, where it can be used to effect change in ones life. Life coaching is an increasingly popular method of collaborative mentoring where a coach assists a client to set goals, provide encouragement, feedback and support.
Goal setting is an efficient technique for:
- Prioritising what you want to achieve with your life
- Determining what is important to you
- Motivating yourself for the future
- Building your self-confidence
New Year's resolutions are a form of goal setting, but often lapse because people are not entirely committed. You could benefit from a more considered, methodical approach utilising the basic principles of goal setting. Some popular lifestyle changes include:
- Career - starting your own business?
- Artistic - writing that first novel?
- Education - learning a new language?
- Financial - getting out of debt?
- Physical - getting fit?
- Health - Quit smoking?
- Public Service - working for a charity?
Goal setting theory
Achieving your goals requires motivation, hard work and careful planning. Research into the psychology of goal setting and motivation found that specific, difficult goals led to better performance than vague or easy goals. Before starting out with your planning take time to consider the following:
Clarity - are your goals clear and specific?
Challenge - succeeding in achieving your goals will boost your enthusiasm
Commitment - achieving your goals will require hard work
Feedback - feedback will help you track your progress and may initiate a change in strategy
Complexity - goals should not be too complex but challenging enough to test you
- Brainstorm - then prioritise your most important goals
- Define your goals - what, where and how is it all going to take place?
- Write your goals down - this will serve to remind you what to concentrate on and enable you to track progress
- Prioritising - ranking tasks will allow you focus on the most important goals
- Set timeframes - a timeline will help you to track your progress
- Review - you may need to modify goals to reflect your changing priorities and experience
- Get support - telling family, friends or engaging a life coach will help you remain focused
- Reward yourself - after reaching a goal allow yourself a pat on the back!
Goals can be set at different levels, with larger life goals divided into a series of realistically achievable steps or tasks, which often makes the process easier. Breaking these into time specific periods often helps:
- Short - a daily action plan or to-do list
- Medium - your monthly/annual objectives
- Long - your 5 year plan and lifetime goals
If you are thinking of changing an aspect of your life and challenging yourself, and would like assistance in achieving your goals, start planning now or see a life coach.Originally published on Apr 13, 2009