Do you remember when you were a kid going to school? You had to go into class, do your homework and study for tests, but you knew right around the corner you had a holiday vacation coming up. Perhaps your parents even gave you a bump in allowance for every A you received on a report card. Even if you didn’t have these exact benefits, chances are there was some kind of carrot dangled in front of your nose to help boost productivity and get the most out of you. You had something to look forward to and a goal you wanted to achieve because the goal came with a payout you wanted.
Flash forward to your life as an adult. Perhaps you do the same thing day in and day out throughout the course of work. You do the same things back home, and there really isn’t anything to look forward to. After all, holiday vacations every few months are long gone, and “spring break” disappeared the day you became a real adult. So what in the world motivates you? What inspires you to push yourself harder? If you’re just going to do the same thing every day, does it even matter?
This is here setting goals is important. Goals give you something to shoot for. To motivate yourself to. It makes life more interesting and that much better. You just need to know what goals to set, how to set the goals, and how to achieve these goals. So here are six golden rules of goal setting to achieve success.
When identifying a goal, decide first whether it actually motivates you or not. Is it something you care about and are willing to go the extra mile to reach? If not, the goal will do nothing to motivate you or spur you on to action. The benefits of goal setting come from the desire to achieve the goal.
A parent offers a child financial incentives for achieving better grades because the child does not have access to this kind of money. It represents something the child doesn’t have and yet wants. This makes it highly desirable. If the incentive is something the person already has or has no interest in, it’s not going to improve performance.
According to INC Images, 69 percent of people who set goals are more successful than those who do not. However, the person and the goal need to connect. As INC Images indicates, 70 percent of companies fail to achieve strategic change goals. Why? Because 93 percent of the time the goals are irrelevant to those tasked with achieving the goal.
There are a number of reasons why you might want to boost productivity. Perhaps you want to save for an upcoming vacation, make a down payment on a house, or buy that first car out of college. By creating established, tangible goals that connect with you and propel you to action, you’ll discover the importance of goal setting.
Understand the Specifics Of Your Goals
A motivational goal is one thing, yet it still needs to be obtainable. Even if it’s something you want to eventually achieve, you either need to have steps within the goal, or smaller goals. When you graduate high school and your goal is to save up for a car, you probably shouldn’t have the goal of buying a Ferrari. It isn’t a realistic goal for the time and, eventually, you’ll lose interest.
Instead, you need to consider several specifics regarding your goal before setting it in stone. First, it needs to be specific. Don’t make it a general goal or something that can alter as you go. A generalized goal will not motivate you. Saying “I want to lose weight” is a general goal. Establishing how much weight you want to lose is specific. Without a clearly defined goal, you will begin to procrastinate, and from procrastination, you’ll eventually see yourself stumble and, before too long, quit.
Next, you need to have a measurable goal. In other words, when looking over the possible types of goal setting options, you need to select a goal where progress can be measured. It doesn’t just go from A to Z in one jump. Instead, you can see progress along the way. Think of it as a fundraiser, where there is a thermometer-looking illustration, and with every donation, the filled in thermometer portion inches higher and higher. At the beginning of the fundraiser, the ultimate goal of $100,000 might seem extensive. However, as more money comes in and the necessary amount dwindles downward, it makes the goal that much more obtainable.
When understanding the specifics of your goal you need to create something that is attainable. Don’t make it so extreme it’s nearly impossible to hit the mark. If you run a business and want to motivate your sales staff, don’t set it at a number that’s so extreme nobody will ever get it. Like visiting the arcades growing up and the stuffed animal you wanted cost a million tickets. You knew right then and there you’d never collect a million tickets, so you stopped before you even started.
Setting an attainable goal needs to be difficult, yet not impossible. It needs to be something you (or your staff), knows can be done, but it won’t be easy. As the graph from Penn State University points out below, goal difficulty has a direct relationship with performance. There is a peek at which you’ll extract the highest level of productivity possible. But if you make the goal too difficult, productivity will actually decrease, which undermines the value of setting goals in the first place.
The goal also needs to be relevant to the task. At the end of the goal, you need to be rewarded. Perhaps you want to lose weight so you wear a bikini at the beach vacation (or maybe you reward yourself with a beach vacation for hitting your goal). Whatever the goal is, it needs to be relevant.
Lastly, in terms of understanding your goal, it needs to be time bound. In other words, there needs to be a set finish line. If there’s no finish line it might drag on forever (or you might continually push it back). So create a goal and have an end date.
Write It Down
It seems almost too simple, but a major golden rule in setting and achieving successful goals is to write it down and keep it easily visible. Forbes (2018) wrote about a study conducted by Vividly, in which participants in a study either wrote down their goals and kept the goals visible, or they only thought of their goals. Those individuals who write out their goals were between 1.2 and 1.4 times as likely to accomplish their goals than those who did not write their goals down.
Writing out your goals makes it real. It makes it tangible. It’s like speaking something out loud you’ve only thought of in your head. It suddenly seems realistic. As if you by writing it (or saying it) you created it. Additionally, Finances Online showed people with goals in their heads were 10 times more successful than those without goals, yet those who wrote out their goals were 30 times more successful than those with no goals.
Map Out Your Goals
There is a real importance of goal setting. However, creating a goal isn’t just selecting an endpoint and then beginning. You need to map out your goals and have established points that show you your progress. There is very little value of setting goals if you can’t monitor your progress.
However, you don’t want to blindly pick out points along the path. You need to consider where progress points are important. Much like writing out the actual goal, you need to write out the individual steps to achieve your goals.
Maybe your goal is to move from Vermont to California. However, you can’t just drop everything and move. So you need to create established points within your goal. This can be applying to jobs, slowly selling off furniture, donating things you don’t need to charity. Each is a minor actionable goal of its own, yet will propel you down the path of the eventual goal.
Having individual goals helps you keep your motivation. Many people create New Year resolutions. However, very few actually achieve these goals because the goals are not specific and they lose their motivation. According to Physiotherapy Works, 26 percent of Americans make a New Year resolution. However, 50 percent of these people end up quitting simply because they lost their motivation. By having smaller steps to reach the summit, you’ll avoid this problem.
Creating a List of Benefits
There is no limit to the kind of benefits of setting goals in life that you will experience once you achieve the established goal. However, sometimes you don’t actually realize what these goals are until you sit down and think about it. These are tangible benefits you’ll experience once you reach your goal. So before you start, create a list of benefits to how your life will change for the better once you reach the goal.
According to the Harvard Business Journal, not only writing out your goals but listing the benefits of achieving these goals is critical toward success, yet few actually do this. In fact, the Harvard Business School conducted research that suggests just three percent of people both write out their goals along with a concrete plan. 10 years later, when revisiting those in the study, the three percent of individuals who created a concrete plan was making 10 times more than the other 97 percent.
It sounds simple enough, yet starting is often the hardest part. Taking the first step represents change, which can depend on the goal, be frightening. That cross-country move or digging deep and spending more time at work can alter some elements of your current life, which is why so many people fail before they begin. However, in order to achieve the success, you need to begin somewhere.
You need something to aim for in your life. As you move from school to the professional world you have fewer established dates to work ward. You don’t have weeks off for the holidays and you don’t have a summer vacation. There aren’t school dances or football games to on Friday night. All of these little events you looked forward to being, more or less, gone. Which leaves you with nothing but doing the exact same thing day in and day out.
Waking up every morning, knowing you have nothing to do but the same thing you’ve done countless times before drains your motivation and productivity. It also zaps anything to look forward to. However, by understanding the benefits of goal setting and establishing tangible, desirable goals for yourself, you not only generate something to look forward to but a reason to strive for greatness. So, whether you’re running your own business or you’re just looking to boost your own sales at work, take control of your goals and do what you can to push yourself forward.