Insight January 18, 2022

5 Principles to Guide Effective Goal Setting

A new year is a fresh start. It’s synonymous with new beginnings and a prime opportunity to make a plan for the coming 12 months. Let’s take some time to start the year right with some goal setting strategies.

Why bother with goal setting?

Almost everyone has a dream they would like to achieve. Maybe you want to get a promotion at work. Or you might want to tackle a new language. Goals are important steps towards planning for the future and achieving your dreams – in work, in your personal life, and even in your relationships.

“The moment you put a deadline on your dream it becomes a goal.”

– Stephen Kellog

A well-defined goal gives you focus and direction. If you want to achieve your dreams, it’s important to have a target to aim for and a timeline. Your plan may be simple or sometimes very complicated, depending on what it is you want to accomplish.

Setting goals helps you trigger new behaviors, build habits, and sustain momentum. It gives you a way to measure your progress and provides a sense of mastery as you reach each new milestone in your plan.

Actionable goals not only help motivate us, but can also help improve mental health and lead to greater success both personally and professionally. Accomplishing what you set out to do can provide a boost to your self-esteem and further motivation for the future.

How do you set and achieve your goals?

Whatever your aim, if you take the time to prepare a plan of attack you will be better equipped to crush your goals. To help you increase your chances at success, it’s important to understand Locke and Latham’s five goal-setting principles.

1. Clarity – Setting specific goals and writing them down helps eliminate confusion. Experts often recommend the SMART method of goal setting to help clarify what it is you want to achieve. Too often people set nebulous goals like “I want to get more recognition at work” or “I would like to get better at dancing.” This type of goal is nearly impossible to measure and doesn’t give you an idea of what steps to take. A clearer goal would be “I want to prepare to negotiate a promotion by my next annual review” or “I want to perform a line dance at my friend’s wedding in September.” These goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

2. Challenge – Stretching yourself and thinking big helps you accomplish more. You want to set a goal that is challenging enough to push you out of your comfort zone but not impossible to achieve. Think ambitious, yet achievable. You want to give yourself a chance to rise to the challenge. Who knows? You may even surprise yourself.

3. Commitment – If you don’t commit to your goal with everything you have, you’re less likely to succeed. Remember, it’s important to be committed to the process, not just the outcome. You may stumble along the way but if you let every setback suck the wind from your sails, you will never achieve your goal. Beyond your personal commitment, you can also get your friends, peers or family to help motivate and inspire you along the way. Accountability is a strong motivator for both personal and professional goal setting.

4. Feedback – When you set goals for yourself, getting feedback helps you gauge how well you are progressing. It’s critical to get input from your peers and adjust your expectations and plan of action accordingly. Keep in mind that feedback doesn’t always have to come from other people. You can also keep track of your progress as you reach each new milestone and evaluate how you have handled obstacles and setbacks along the way.

5. Task Complexity – When you have a particularly complex goal, it’s important to break it up into manageable tasks. You don’t want any step in the process to become too overwhelming. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time, set appropriate deadlines, and reassess if your tasks start to feel too stressful or unrealistic.

We all know that goal setting is a vital part of success. Once you understand the principles of setting SMART, actionable goals, you are one step closer to achieving your dreams. With the new year upon us, now is the time to sit down and start planning for your future. But if you end up procrastinating, this article will be here to help you kick start the process anytime.

Need help setting some marketing goals for 2022? Let’s talk.

Share this article