The Theory of Goal Setting

Did you know there was a theory of goal setting? The phrase “goal setting” is a part of everyday conversation, but did you know that the effects of setting and achieving goals has long been studied by many great minds including those of scientists, doctors and great achievers throughout the ages. Some of these great minds include men like Douglas Vermeeren, Napoleon Hill, Dr. Gary Latham and Dr. Edwin Locke, just to name a few.

The correlation between goal setting and high achievement.

theory of goal setting

What these men discovered, is that there is a direct correlation between goal setting and high achievement.

Those who are successful did not come by that success by chance or by accident. Those who reached the heights of great success were masters of goal setting.

In studying the theory of goal setting these men also discovered that there are certain criteria a goal must meet in order for it to be effective. Simply stating that you are going to climb Mt. Everest isn’t enough. This is a good first step, however. Every great accomplishment started first with a single thought, but there is much more to achieving this goal than just declaring it.

The criteria a goal must meet to be effective

1. The first of these criteria for effective goal setting is that a goal must be that of the person who is to accomplish the goal. In other words, just because your goal is for your son to become a doctor, doesn't mean it’s gonna happen. He has to have set that goal for himself.

2. The goal must be clearly defined. For a goal to be clearly defined, you must not only set the goal to start your own business, but you must define what kind of business you will start. Get as detailed as you can. A gift shop is a little better, but a gift shop that specializes in unique gifts is even better. A gift shop that specializes in unique gifts by local artist is better still.

3. The goal must be challenging, yet attainable. What this means, is that your goal can not be so easy that you could accomplish it with little or no effort. On the other hand, it can not be so difficult that deep down you do not believe that it is attainable by you. If you can’t run around your block without being out of breath, maybe setting the goal to run a marathon is reaching to high. Try first setting the goal, to run a mile without stopping.

goal setting theory

4. There must be a certain level of commitment by the person that set the goal to accomplish that goal. In other words, if you do everything right in terms of setting your goal, but you are not fully committed to making it happen, then your goal is all for naught. This tends to be the case when you try to achieve a goal someone else set for you or you are trying to accomplish a goal you think society wants you to accomplish. So please, make sure your goal is your own and make sure it is something you are committed to achieving.

5. The goal must have a deadline. Saying that you are going to buy a house, is not enough. You have to set a clear deadline for buying that house. Without a clear deadline, it is implied that you will buy a house someday. We all know that someday rarely comes. Without a deadline, there is no urgency to make a thing happen and in order to move forward, we must have a sense of urgency.

6. Lastly, We need to see that we are making progress toward our goal. Put another way, our goals need to be measurable or quantifiable. If you can not measure the success or you can not see progress happening in the direction of your overall goal, you can not determine when that goal has been met. For this reason, it is good practice to track your goals. By doing this you are giving yourself a boost of motivation. When we can see progress being made we are more likely to follow through with our goal.

Final thoughts on the theory of goal setting

If setting goals is so important that there is a theory named after it, “The Theory of Goal Setting,” and it is important enough for scientists, doctors and great minds of all kinds to study it’s effects, then I think it’s important enough for us to sit up and take notice. Setting and achieving goals is the only real measure for success, so why is it that so few take the time to set goals for themselves. If everything around you is telling you that you should be setting a goal for yourself don’t you think it’s time you did.

Great Books On Goal Setting

Other Goal Setting Article You Might Enjoy

Other Theory of Goal Setting Resources

an overview of the goal setting theory

Goal Theory In Practice

an Action research exercise.

What Exactly is The Goal Setting Theory?

an easy to read article on the goal setting theory.

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