How To Set Goals That Work

How To Set Goals That Work

How To Set Goals That Work

By Mark Wager

It is universally accepted that goals form an important part of success. You can't walk into a workplace without some goals bring plastered on a wall somewhere Each employee will most likely have a set of individual goals as well as those set by their boss. When work ends, many people go home to a set of other goals, this time life goals. Whether they are documented or not, goals are everywhere yet the majority of goals are unrealistic. They are not constructed in a way that motivates people, in fact a lot of them produce the opposite results and they demotivate rather than motivate.

This article explores the correct way to set goals.

🔹What do you want to change?
Motivation comes from a desire to change and your goal needs to reflect this. If fundamentally the state that materialises from achieving your goal is not resolving an issue that is making your current state uncomfortable then the effectiveness of your goal will never be maximised. The greater the discomfort the greater the fuel for motivation. For example if you hate your job you will be far more motivated to look for a new job than if you felt just fine in your role. Explore the darkest part of your life and in that darkness you will find your goal.

🔹What does success look like?
Once you know what you want in life the next step is to quantify that goal. You need to know what your life looks like when your goal is achieved. In short you need to be able to describe what success looks like. You don't need a lot of metrics but you do need to have a solid outcome that can be easily visualised. Just imagine if you want to lose weight, a typical goal is to reach a certain weight by a set time, yet a more effective goal would instead look like "I want to fit into an old pair of jeans that I haven't worn for the past few years. Describing the goal in these terms of what you gain gives you a clear measure as well as an outcome that invokes a range of positive emotions.

🔹Long range flexible, short term fixed.
The most effective goals are multi layered. You need the long range aspirational goal but you also need the short term goals that when completed enable the wider goal to be achieved. These short term goals have to be very specific and fixed. The reason for this is that by having short term goals you create stepping stones to your main goal and you build a sense of self belief. Nothing will be achieved unless you believe it with your whole heart. Ask anyone who has achieved greatness how they achieved it and they will say the key was the small daily tasks they achieved. You may not envisage climbing the mountain but you can easily imagine taking one step at a time. What are the daily steps you need to climb your own personal mountain.

🔹Your goal has to stretch you
Your goal has to be just beyond your current level of skill. If your goal is too easy to reach then you will not have any sense of achievement when the goal is achieved. However, if your goal is too unattainable then you will feel a sense of anxiety and a loss of motivation as you realise the goal won't be reached . The ideal goal falls within a 4% - 10% range just beyond your current skills. It's within this range that when goals are achieved your brain releases a chemical called Dopamine. This is an addictive chemical that the brain uses to encourage us to explore and move forward.

🔹Don't openly share your goal
This final tip is the opposite to traditional thinking. It is commonly thought that by sharing a goal with as many people as possible you will be more likely to succeed but this only works when the goal is supported by those who hear it. If everyone is convinced of your success then you have the wrong goal as it is not aspirational enough. If your goal is significant enough to change your life then people will doubt you. Their reaction is rarely about you, rather it's a defence mechanism which hides them from the truth about goals. The truth is that the life we have is the life that we have earned. Everyone can have a better life and the ability to do so rests within ourselves. Your goals are precious so only share them with people who truly know and believe in you and as for everyone else it doesn't matter what they think as the only person who can make your goals a reality is you.

About the Author:
Mark Wager is a Leadership coach who specialises in providing people with proven techniques and strategies in order to become a successful leader. To book a free twenty minute strategy coaching session with Mark use the enquiry form below.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Posted: Monday 30 November 2015

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