The Process of Goal Setting

Achieving your Goal

We all have a purpose and a will to succeed but how we achieve success is relative to the individual. Successful people are serial goal setters whereby the path they have taken to arrive at where they are now is the result of achieving and conquering many small steps to reach the pinnacle they have set themselves. To quote directly the famous philosopher Aristotle ‘All Men seek one goal: success or happiness. The only way to achieve true success is to express yourself completely in service to society. First, have a definitive, clear, practical idea – a goal, an objective. Second have the necessary means to achieve’. To take from this, Aristotle has the process of goal setting nailed. Firstly, you need to identify a realistic target that you aspire to conquer. Secondly set out a plan, a structure, a pathway, and envision yourself conquering and achieving your goal. This brings structure to your dream and how you are going to make it a reality. Achieving your goal is the result of your work. Below I have outlined a 2-part series on the process of Goal Setting and how you can identify and achieve your goal.

Outcome and Behaviour Goals

When setting out on your journey it is important to have a clear focus on what it is you want to achieve. There are two types of goals that I will refer to as outcome and behaviour. An outcome goal is the long-term goal or result from carrying out a behaviour. To achieve your desired result, you will have to undergo a process of accomplishing or conquering small steps along the way. These steps can be referred to as behaviour goals. Behaviour goals form the basis for prevention and accomplishment for your goals (1) There is a flaw to just setting an outcome goal and going for it, as generally you don’t have full control of the outcome. The outcome may seem too far off in the distance when you inevitably hit that plateau or rough patch that slows your progress. This is the critical stage for anyone with a goal in mind. The SMART principle to goal setting is critical here. It is a method used wholesale to great effect when setting goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Dependent. Consideration for the SMART principle when setting your outcome and behaviour goal will enable you to achieve your goal.

Accountability

A goal may be losing a stone before a family event, getting a promotion, breaking 3hrs in a marathon, earning 50k this year…. The list goes on and is specific to you. So how do I go about achieving my goal you ask? Where do I start? Well, the first step of any goal setting process is to write down your goal. An idea or a thought is just a dream until it is written down, then it becomes a goal. A written goal is specific, you are holding yourself accountable for what it is that you want to achieve. Accountability should not be underestimated if you are truly chasing success. Holding yourself accountable is an indication that you are accepting responsibility. With accepting responsibility, you will ignite your inner drive to achieve your goal (2) At the end of the day your goals are specific to you and what you want to achieve. So, holding yourself accountable will help you achieve your goal.

In Part 1 we looked at the Process of Goal Setting and how Accountability is a critical component of Achieving your goal. Now lets look at confidence and self efficacy and their relation to goal setting.

Confidence

What has prevented you in the past from achieving a goal you set yourself? We have all failed at some point in time or failed to reach a desired result. In Part 1 we looked at behaviour and outcome goals and how they enable you to achieve your goal. Behaviour goals can also be known as short term goals. Achieving these gives us confidence in our ability to achieve the outcome. This instilled confidence from achieving a behaviour goal sets you up to believe in the process involved in achieving a successful outcome. How you respond to failure and setbacks is what sets everyone apart. Some of us have taken setbacks in our stride knowing that it is all a part of the process. In contrast to this, some of us have let the setback get the better of us and have given up.

Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy plays a critical role in how we think, feel and behave. Self-efficacy is the the belief in one’s ability to succeed and accomplish goals. For you to achieve targets and goals that you have set yourself, your inner belief in accomplishing these targets will dictate your success. Pay special attention to your self-efficacy beliefs when setting your goals and ensure they are in line with your beliefs as opposed to working against them. An estimation of your ability to achieve is critical to self-efficacy beliefs. People will only do what they believe they can do (2).

Conclusion

Whether you want to achieve a goal in business, elite sport, your personal life or your general health and wellbeing make sure to write down what your goal is and remember to truly achieve your goal two main components are required:

  1. Holding yourself accountable for your actions
  2. Confidence in your ability to achieve your goal.

Accountability should not be underestimated in when you are striving to achieve your goals. You need to take responsibility for your previous behaviour and your future habits. Holding yourself accountable to a coach or yourself should instil your inner drive to succeed and achieve your goal. Your self-efficacy is critical to you in achieving your goal. If you don’t have the confidence in believing it is attainable then you won’t achieve it.