For other uses, see Goal (disambiguation).
A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envisions, plans and commits to achieve. People endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines.
A goal is roughly similar to a purpose or aim, the anticipated result which guides reaction, or an end, which is an object, either a physical object or an abstract object, that has intrinsic value.
Main article: Goal setting
Goal-setting theory was formulated based on empirical research and has been called one of the most important theories in organizational psychology.Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham, the fathers of goal-setting theory, provided a comprehensive review of the core findings of the theory in 2002. In summary, Locke and Latham found that specific, difficult goals lead to higher performance than either easy goals or instructions to "do your best", as long as feedback about progress is provided, the person is committed to the goal, and the person has the ability and knowledge to perform the task.
According to Locke and Latham, goals affect performance in the following ways:
- goals direct attention and effort toward goal-relevant activities,
- difficult goals lead to greater effort,
- goals increase persistence, with difficult goals prolonging effort, and
- goals indirectly lead to arousal, and to discovery and use of task-relevant knowledge and strategies.
A positive relationship between goals and performance depends on several factors. First, the goal must be considered important and the individual must be committed. Participative goal setting can help increase performance, but participation itself does not directly improve performance.Self-efficacy also enhances goal commitment. For goals to be effective, people need feedback that details their progress in relation to their goal.
Some coaches recommend establishing specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bounded (SMART) objectives, but not all researchers agree that these SMART criteria are necessary. In part, this is because the SMART goal framework does not include difficulty, but instead uses achievable. In goal-setting theory of Locke and Latham (1990, 2002), to set a difficult goal, it is recommended to use the 90th percentile, based on the average prior performance of those that have performed the task.[clarification needed]
Goals can be long-term, intermediate, or short-term. The primary difference is the time required to achieve them.
Short-term goals expect accomplishment in a short period of time, such as trying to get a bill paid in the next few days. The definition of a short-term goal need not relate to any specific length of time. In other words, one may achieve (or fail to achieve) a short-term goal in a day, week, month, year, etc. The time-frame for a short-term goal relates to its context in the overall time line that it is being applied to. For instance, one could measure a short-term goal for a month-long project in days; whereas one might measure a short-term goal for someone's lifetime in months or in years. Planners usually define short-term goals in relation to long-term goals.
Individuals can set personal goals. A student may set a goal of a high mark in an exam. An athlete might run five miles a day. A traveler might try to reach a destination-city within three hours. Financial goals are a common example, to save for retirement or to save for a purchase.
Managing goals can give returns in all areas of personal life. Knowing precisely what one wants to achieve makes clear what to concentrate and improve on, and often subconsciously prioritizes that goal.
Goal setting and planning ("goal work") promotes long-term vision, intermediate mission and short-term motivation. It focuses intention, desire, acquisition of knowledge, and helps to organize resources.
Efficient goal work includes recognizing and resolving all guilt, inner conflict or limiting belief that might cause one to sabotage one's efforts. By setting clearly defined goals, one can subsequently measure and take pride in the accomplishment of those goals. One can see progress in what might have seemed a long, perhaps difficult, grind.
Achieving personal goals
Achieving complex and difficult goals requires focus, long-term diligence and effort (see Goal pursuit). Success in any field requires forgoing excuses and justifications for poor performance or lack of adequate planning; in short, success requires emotional maturity. The measure of belief that people have in their ability to achieve a personal goal also affects that achievement.
Long-term achievements rely on short-term achievements. Emotional control over the small moments of the single day makes a big difference in the long term.
Personal goal achievement and happiness
There has been a lot of research conducted looking at the link between achieving desired goals, changes to self-efficacy and integrity and ultimately changes to subjective well-being. Goal efficacy refers to how likely an individual is to succeed in achieving their goal. Goal integrity refers to how consistent one's goals are with core aspects of the self. Research has shown that a focus on goal efficacy is associated with well-being factor happiness (subjective well-being) and goal integrity is associated with the well-being factor meaning (psychology). Multiple studies have shown the link between achieving long-term goals and changes in subjective well-being; most research shows that achieving goals that hold personal meaning to an individual increases feelings of subjective well-being.
The self-concordance model is a model that looks at the sequence of steps that occur from the commencement of a goal to attaining that goal. It looks at the likelihood and impact of goal achievement based on the type of goal and meaning of the goal to the individual. Different types of goals impact both goal achievement and the sense of subjective well-being brought about by achieving the goal. The model breaks down factors that promote, first, striving to achieve a goal, then achieving a goal, and then the factors that connect goal achievement to changes in subjective well-being.
Goals that are pursued to fulfill intrinsic values or to support an individual's self-concept are called self-concordant goals. Self-concordant goals fulfill basic needs and align with what psychoanalystDonald Winnicott called an individual's "True Self". Because these goals have personal meaning to an individual and reflect an individual's self-identity, self-concordant goals are more likely to receive sustained effort over time. In contrast, goals that do not reflect an individual's internal drive and are pursued due to external factors (e.g. social pressures) emerge from a non-integrated region of a person and are therefore more likely to be abandoned when obstacles occur.
Those who attain self-concordant goals reap greater well-being benefits from their attainment. Attainment-to-well-being effects are mediated by need satisfaction, i.e., daily activity-based experiences of autonomy, competence, and relatedness that accumulate during the period of striving. The model is shown to provide a satisfactory fit to 3 longitudinal data sets and to be independent of the effects of self-efficacy, implementation intentions, avoidance framing, and life skills.
Furthermore, self-determination theory and research surrounding this theory shows that if an individual effectively achieves a goal, but that goal is not self-endorsed or self-concordant, well-being levels do not change despite goal attainment.
Goal management in organizations
In organizations, goal management consists of the process of recognizing or inferring goals of individual team-members, abandoning goals that are no longer relevant, identifying and resolving conflicts among goals, and prioritizing goals consistently for optimal team-collaboration and effective operations.
For any successful commercialsystem, it means deriving profits by making the best quality of goods or the best quality of services available to end-users (customers) at the best possible cost. Goal management includes:
- assessment and dissolution of non-rational blocks to success
- time management
- frequent reconsideration (consistency checks)
- feasibility checks
- adjusting milestones and main-goal targets
Jens Rasmussen (human factors expert) and Morten Lind distinguish three fundamental categories of goals related to technological system management:
- production goals
- safety goals
- economy goals
Organizational goal-management aims for individual employee goals and objectives to align with the vision and strategic goals of the entire organization. Goal-management provides organizations with a mechanism[which?] to effectively communicate corporate goals and strategic objectives to each person across the entire organization. The key consists of having it all emanate from a pivotal source and providing each person with a clear, consistent organizational-goal message so that every employee understands how their efforts contribute to an enterprise's success.
An example of goal types in business management:
- Consumer goals: this refers to supplying a product or service that the market/consumer wants
- Product goals: this refers to supplying an outstanding value proposition compared to other products - perhaps due to factors such as quality, design, reliability and novelty
- Operational goals: this refers to running the organization in such a way as to make the best use of management skills, technology and resources
- Secondary goals: this refers to goals which an organization does not regard as priorities
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"Don’t be encumbered by history – go off and do something wonderful."
(Robert Noyce, Co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel)
If you want to do something wonderful, the first step is to decide what that something will be. Goal setting is probably the most significant factor in improving performance in nearly every area of life. Goals are not only great motivators; they provide a focus for your efforts and help you make decisions along the way.
This article deals with the practical side of goal setting and planning. When we set a goal we are actually stating how we would like to improve the world – specifically some aspect of it that we can control. So we can express the goal as a description of the improved situation. How would you like to change your world?
Start with the long-term view: what do you really want to achieve in your lifetime? Many people find this difficult: after all, it could be a long time, with many possibilities and opportunities. So put it another way: what would you really regret not having done or achieved in your lifetime?
Think about what you could aim for in different areas of your life:
- Education and personal development
- Hobbies and personal interests (art, music, intellectual pursuits, community, sports and fitness, etc)
- Peer group: career, social and neighborhood
Whatever goals you can think of in each area, write them down – or put them straight into Goalscape!
Make sure your goals are SMART. They must be:
Test each of your goals against this list by asking pertinent questions. There is more background on SMART goal setting here.
Once you have collected all the goals you can think of, review them: narrow down your list and start to set priorities for those that remain. Consider what you have already achieved and how you did it; and where you have failed and why. What does this tell you about your strengths? Where might you need to develop and learn new skills? Answering these questions will provide clues as to which goals are within your reach.
Play to your strengths in terms of your talents and skills; yet look for ways to extend yourself beyond your comfort zone. Make sure you choose your own goals: those that are in line with your own personal values, rather than merely reflecting the expectations or wishes of others (parents, teachers or peer group). Do however share your goals with those close to you, especially where they are involved in a particular area – eg your partner, your boss and colleagues (for work goals), team members and coach (for sports goals) – and take their wishes and opinions into account.
Keep breaking down your big goals into smaller subgoals. Set their relative importances according to the contribution they make to their parent goal.
Always be prepared to add or change some of your goals and their relative importance. Set specific targets in the lowest level goals, decide how to measure your progress and enter it into your plan as you go. Checking off completed tasks and seeing your progress advance will make you feel really good! Celebrate your major achievements with everyone who helped you.
Future articles will include specific advice about working towards your goals; some background about why goal setting is so powerful; and how to make sure your goals are meaningful.