The importance of goal setting

One of the core tools in the high achiever’s toolbox is the humble goal.  There is a significant amount of research to support the fact that settings goals leads to a higher level of performance.  So much so, that one of the underlying principles of the NDIS is linking supports to specific goals in a participant’s plan.  While this is all good and well, you might be wondering why on earth are goals linked to such an increase in performance?

Before we delve into the ‘why’, we first need to look at what is a goal.  Basically, a goal is something you want to achieve at some point in the future.  One of the most popular frameworks for setting goals is the SMART technique, as defined below:

Specific
The goal must be clearly defined – it must paint a picture of the future with a reasonable level of detail.

Measurable
The goal needs to have some sort of measurement, whether it’s a quantitative (numeric) measurement or a qualitative (the quality of something) measurement. This way you’ll be able to see how you are tracking towards your goals, and when you have achieved them.

Attainable
The goal has to be realistic and achievable, otherwise you’re likely to feel demotivated when you inevitably fail to meet your goal.

Relevant
The goal needs to be in alignment with your values. If there is a conflict with your ethics and the goals you set, it’s not going to end well.

Time-bound
You need to put a time-frame on when the goal needs to be achieved by, otherwise our friend procrastination will step in and you’ll be watching Netflix instead of chasing the goal.

Now that we know what a goal is, we can go into why they are important.  First and foremost, goals give you something to aim for.  If you go shooting and there’s no target, it’s going to be a bit of a pointless exercise.  However, if you have something to aim for, you’ll be able to focus your energy on the right areas instead of wandering around aimlessly.

A Harvard study found that even by having unwritten goals, people were 10x more successful that those who didn’t have goals at all.  Furthemore, those who had their goals written down were 3x more successful than those who didn’t have them written down – 30x more successful than those without goals.

Goals also give you motivation.  By having your goal written down somewhere you can see it every day, you’re going to have a regular reminder of what you’re working towards.  It may also provide you that little extra bit of motivation you need if you’re having an off day.

Another great thing about goals is they can, and should, be broken down into smaller sub-goals.  Having a huge goal to buy a house, for example, might seem quite overwhelming, especially if you have no money and no job.  You can start by breaking this into sub-goals such as getting a well paying job, then have another goal that involves saving up the deposit, and so on.  You can even break these goals down even further if you have to.

There you have it, by having a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound, you’re able to design your future in advance and increase the level of success in your life.  And the beauty of the goal is that it isn’t set in concrete, so if your circumstances change or you find that you’re not on track to meet your goals for whatever reason, you can still rethink your goal and make any necessary changes.