Why Goals Matter

Goals May Be Your Keys to Improvement in 2017

By David Cox, SPHR, SHRM-SCP | December 22, 2016

As we stand on the threshold of 2017, it’s probably worthwhile to remember that goals help us succeed in several ways:

  1. Goals give you direction. They provide you with a destination and a road map for getting there.
  2. Goals provide feedback. As you proceed with your goal in sight, you can see when to modify your course to reach your destination.
  3. Goals motivate. They give you a daily purpose, a challenge, and a reward when you reach them.

By setting goals, you can:

  1. Achieve more.
  2. Improve performance.
  3. Increase your motivation.
  4. Increase your pride and satisfaction in your achievements.
  5. Improve your self-confidence.
  6. Eliminate attitudes that hold you back.

Research shows that people who set goals:

  1. Suffer less from stress and anxiety.
  2. Concentrate better.
  3. Show more self-confidence.
  4. Perform better.
  5. Are happier and more satisfied.

On the other side of the coin, there can be a cost to not setting goals. Consider this exchange from Alice in Wonderland:

ALICE:
Excuse me, sir. Could you tell me which road to take?
CATERPILLAR:
Where are you going?
ALICE:
Oh, I don’t know where I am going, sir.
CATERPILLAR:
Well, if you don’t know where you are going, it really doesn’t matter which road you take.

Effective goal-setting is a complex yet logical process. These 10 steps will help you set specific goals to broaden your background, develop your skills, and achieve your dreams.

  1. Identify long-term and short-term goals. Long-term goals typically focus on months or years ahead, whereas short-term goals focus on the next few days, weeks, or months, serving as stepping-stones to long-term goals.
  2. Set outcome goals and task goals. Outcome goals aim at a result—for example, to increase your production rate by 5 percent. Task goals are tasks you need to do to achieve your outcome goals—for example, organize your work area to increase output.
  3. Identify what you need to achieve goals. Make a list of everything you need. Include training, resources, the cooperation of co-workers, etc.
  4. Recognize obstacles. Consider anything that might get in the way of achieving your goal—for example, poor time management, lack of skills, a negative attitude, fear of failure. Figure out how you can eliminate these obstacles.
  5. Write your goals and review them often. Until you commit goals to paper, they’re only thoughts, not facts. Review your list to remain focused.
  6. Create a plan of action. Formulate a step-by-step action plan for achieving your goals. An action plan is essential, especially if your goal is broad or if you have several obstacles to overcome.
  7. Set a date to achieve your goal. Mark it on your calendar and circle it in red. A target date will keep you moving steadily toward your goal, without backsliding.
  8. Take action. Follow your plan and deal with problems as they arise. Without action, goals remain dreams.
  9. Evaluate your goals. Set specific dates to monitor your progress and modify goals as needed.
  10. Set new goals. Once you achieve one goal, set a new one, and keep going.

If you determine to never give up setting and achieving goals, you will make achievement a lifelong process.