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Goal Setting Exercises Proposal- A 5 Point Approach in support of Well Written Goals

Article by Ray Whittaker

Goal setting exercises are generally based on the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) expression, particularly within the corporate world. We are told that creating goals that way is necessary to our own development and that of our team. But research carried out and published in 1990 by Dr Edwin Locke and Dr Gary Latham on goal setting and motivation suggests otherwise (see A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance (1990) – Locke and Latham)

Basing their investigation on Locke’s goal setting theory, Locke and Latham discovered that you can find five significant factors in goal setting exercises which need to be in place for the goal to be motivational. Without them, goals are generally neglected, pushed aside or simply not taken seriously. Here are the five factors to bear in mind whenever you start on your own goal setting exercises:

1. ClarityA clear goal is not the same as a specific goal. For example, you could have a specific goal of generating 10 additional sales this month but that will not be clear exactly what you are going to sell or to whom; unless you have only one product to sell. A clear goal is specific, measurable and time bound by its nature.

2. ChallengeA goal needs to be challenging to motivate. A goal which is too easy would not be worthy of having. We aren’t very likely to pursue a goal that would not give us some sense of satisfaction. Of course, we do things every day that do not necessarily give us a feeling of achievement but we don’t set goals for them; we just do them. I wouldn’t create a specific goal to go out to the supermarket for instance; I would just go! I’ve observed instances in which people set SMART goals which simply are not challenging. It’s usually not long before those goals get ignored. A challenging goal still ought to be attainable however.

3. CommitmentIt’s pretty easy to be committed to a goal that you create for yourself. The action of setting up the goal to begin with demonstrates a certain amount of commitment. But if you find yourself creating goals for somebody else, you need to be sure you have commitment from them. The way you get people to commit to your goal setting exercises is a completely separate question but one you should take into account.

4. FeedbackFeedback can be seen in a bunch of different ways. It could clearly be verbal feedback from one person to another. Or it could possibly be self-evident in the task or goal. However it is presented, the person working towards the goal should have feedback so they can keep on being motivated and committed to its outcome. That is certainly valid for a goal that you set for yourself equally as much as it is for anyone else. There really should be some way of keeping track of progress towards the outcome.

5. Task ComplexityYou could be pardoned for believing that task complexity is just like challenging. A complicated task will probably be challenging however it is not inevitably true that a challenging task is complex. And then a task that’s too complex would have an unfavorable effect on motivation to finish it. This is where the SMART goals have an benefit in emphasizing tasks really needs to be achievable.

I don’t wish to give the impression that S.M.A.R.T. goals are good-for-nothing; not at all. But I believe they can be improved upon by considering these five criteria as part of your own goal setting exercises.

About the Author

Ray Whittaker is an Internet marketer and a member of the Six Figure Mentors online business mentoring community

© 2008 WMG Ironic (Video)

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