Welcome 2017 – A brand new year and a chance to start fresh. For you, does that mean resolutions or time to set goals? At the end of the year have you gotten anywhere?
There is a lot of science, and some controversy over setting goals and resolutions. In the 1960’s Dr. Edwin Locke pioneered some research on goal setting and motivation. That led to the SMART method, which is used by coaches, athletes, businesses and many others.
- Goals need to be specific to be maintained. To take that a step further: make sure that your goal matters to you. Our brains love rewards. Choosing easy goals helps us check off another thing on our list but often doesn’t lead to lasting change or results. A specific goal has meaning. The answer to why that goal matters is your motivation to keep up with it, and will help you be more successful.
- We need to be able to measure how well we are attaining our goal. Without being able to measure or track our performance towards that goal we aren’t sure how well we are doing and motivation will wane. Timely feedback is critical to ensure that goal setting is effective and improves performance. This allows us to be focused on the process and progress we have made so we don’t get caught up in the outcome and miss the short term goals and changes that help us along the way.
- While studies have shown that goals should be challenging, they shouldn’t be out of reach. You want to be able to plan your way to success, while at the same time plan for when things might not go your way. Have a contingency plan in place for when things go awry. That little set backs won’t make you feel your goal is too far away.
- Goals need to be accepted by the individual making them. Going back to specific goals – these need to have meaning to you otherwise you will have no reason to keep up with the work to help you reach that goal. If you don’t accept the goal you won’t accept the process to get you to the result. Even just participation in setting the goal will help to make that more effective. And another way to help boost results – give that goal a positive spin!
- For goals to be successful a time line is key. Without some time lines you can be working on a goal for years and still not but much closer to reaching it, especially as it is easy to put off the work if a set back happens as it’s not needed tomorrow. Even though time lines can change, putting one in at the start keeps you moving forward and focused. That direct energy relates to performance as you are committed to the process.
Following these guidelines help to define clear goals, that are challenging but help you commit to your success and improve performance in any area of your life.