Goal Setting: Turning Dreams Into Reality

Updated: May 13

Hello everyone. Welcome back to another month of exciting events and fun in the year 2020. Well, the year is almost over, and we can only pray that 2021 will bring a brighter future for everyone. Many people went through some different trials and tribulations in 2020, while many people had time to do a lot of reflecting and adjusting their lives to compensate for the ever-changing social and economic occurrences due to current events. Some of you may know, while many do not, that I have been on a 4-year journey in the effort of achieving my Doctorate in Psychology. Well, in September of 2020, I was finally awarded my Doctorate! It was a long journey and a struggle at times, having to attend full-time school while working a full-time job. How did I do it? Well, it took goal setting, motivation, persistence, good habits, dedication, and a bunch of discipline—all of the same habits that are taught and instilled in the military. So, I thought it would be appropriate to share some tips this month on goal setting, so anyone wanting to achieve their dreams can turn them into their reality. NOTE: This applies to anything in your life; finances, education, employment, buying a home, planning a vacation, saving money, or anything you want to achieve. So please apply it accordingly!


A goal without a plan is just a wish!

Preparation, desire, and discipline all likely began early in your childhood. Your education, study habits, athletics, fitness abilities, and work ethic formed first in life, long before you started dreaming of a specific profession. However, the power of inspiration, self-motivation, and desire can help you accomplish tasks even with a less than stellar start in life. When the days get longer and the nights get longer, what motivates you is essential. However, your motivation on day one has to evolve to discipline and work ethic. Depending upon the amount of work and time it takes to reach your goal, your discipline may last several years or more for some professions.


Commitment

Commitment often refers to the degree to which an individual is attached to their goal and their determination in reaching it – even when faced by adversity or obstacles. Goal performance is most robust when people are committed, and even more so when said goals are challenging. Given the commitment to a specific goal, when an individual discovers their performance is below what is required, they likely will increase their efforts or change their strategy in the effort to attain it.

When we are less committed to goals, particularly with more challenging goals, the likelihood of giving up is increased. There are significant associations between goals and performance; we are more likely to complete what we intend to do.

Several factors also influence our commitment levels—the perceived desirability of a goal and how it compares to the perceived ability in achieving it. When setting goals for yourself or others, success can be measured by your desire and your comprehensive understanding of what is required in achieving it.


Clarity

Specific goals put you on a direct course. When a goal is vague, it has limited motivational value. Goal clarity can be positively related to overall motivation and satisfaction in the workplace.

Set clear, precise, and unambiguous goals that are implicit and can be measured. When a goal is clear in your mind, you have an improved understanding of the task at hand. You know precisely what is required, and the resulting success is an additional source of motivation.


Challenging

Goals must be challenging yet attainable. Challenging goals can improve performance through increased self-satisfaction and the motivation to find suitable strategies to push our skills to the limit. Conversely, goals that are not within our ability level will not be achieved, leading to feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration.

We are motivated by achievement and the anticipation of achievement. If we know a goal is challenging yet believe it is within our abilities to accomplish, we are more likely to be motivated to complete a task.


Task Complexity

Overly complex tasks introduce demands that may mute goal-setting effects. Too complicated goals that lie out of our skill level may become overwhelming and negatively impact morale, productivity, and motivation.

The timescale for such goals should be realistic. Allowing sufficient time to work toward a goal will enable opportunities to reassess the goal complexity while reviewing and improving performance. Even the most motivated people can become disillusioned if the task’s complexity is too great for their skills.


Feedback

Goal setting is more effective in the presence of immediate feedback. Feedback – including internal feedback – helps to determine the degree to which a goal is being met and how you are progressing.


Unambiguous feedback ensures that action can be taken if necessary. If performance falls below the standard required to achieve a goal, feedback allows us to reflect upon our ability and set new, more attainable goals. When such feedback is delayed, we cannot evaluate the effectiveness of our strategies promptly, leading to a potential reduction in the rate of progress.


When we perceive our progress towards a goal as adequate, we feel capable of learning new skills and setting more challenging future goals.

Eight Interesting Facts on Goal Setting

  1. Setting goals and often reflecting upon them helps improve academic success. Around twenty-five percent of students who enroll in 4-year university courses do not complete their studies; common explanations justify this through a lack of clear goals and motivation. Goal-setting intervention programs have shown a significant improvement in academic performance.

  2. Goals are good for motivation. Definitions in motivation often incorporate goals and goal setting as the essential factors of improvement; “Motivation is the desire that energizes and directs goal-oriented behavior.”

  3. Goal setting can be associated with achieving the optimal conditions through the flow state. Setting clear goals that are challenging yet within your skill level is an influential contributor to finding yourself in ‘the zone.’

  4. An optimistic approach to goal setting can genuinely aid in your success. Research into goal-setting among students indicates that hope and optimism have a significant impact on how we manage our goals.

  5. Goals that are both specific and challenging lead to overall improved performance. Comparisons between the effects of non-specific goals such as “I will try to do my best” and detailed, challenging goals to suggest that people do not tend to perform well when they are only ‘doing their best.’ Vague goals are compatible with multiple outcomes, including those lower than one’s capabilities.

  6. People with high efficacy are more prone to set challenging goals and committing to them. Individuals who sustain their beliefs in their abilities under the pressure of challenging goals tend to maintain and even increase their subsequent goals and often improve performances. Conversely, individuals who lack this confidence tend to lower their goals (making them easier to achieve) and decrease their future efforts.

  7. Social influences have a vital determinant in goal choice. While social impacts on goal achievement may diminish with increased task-specific knowledge, social effects remain a strong determinant of goal choice.

  8. Goal setting can be a more powerful motivator than monetary incentives on their own merit. Goal setting is the primary mechanism by which other incentives affect motivation. Within the workplace, money was found to be the most effective motivator when the rewards offered were contingent on achieving specific objectives.


Other things can help accomplish our goals, like good time management, good contingency plans, sound support systems, etc. All of these things play an essential part in reaching your goals. I hope this information has been helpful and gives you some thought on how detailed your plan should be when goal setting to achieve your dreams. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it!


References:


Houston, E. (2020). What is Goal Setting and How to Do it Well. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/goal-setting/


True Purpose Lifestyle (2020). Setting Goals 2020. Retrieved from http://truepurposelifestyle.com

Image provided by Royston Guest (2019). Seven Reason Why Goal setting is Critical to Success. Retrieved from https://www.roystonguest.com/blog/7-reasons-why-goal-setting-is-critical-to-success/

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