Business Managers and Psychologists have known for a long time that establishing goals and getting people (employees, counselees) to achieve them is a powerful tool of motivation. Everything you want to do in life can be better achieved by setting clear goals and methodically setting out to attain them.
How do goals help? Back in the late 60’s, psychologist Dr. Edwin Locke pioneered research on the effectiveness of goal-setting and motivation. In his article, “Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives”, Locke stated that employees were motivated by clear goals and appropriate feedback. In turn, this improved performance.
Locke’s research also found that specific, more difficult to attain goals, led to better performance than vague or easy goals. Telling someone, or yourself, “try hard”, or “do your best”, is less effective than the specific “beat your best time”, or “do better than 80%”. More difficult goals are more motivating. Easier to attain goals create an “I can do that anytime” response where attaining more difficult goals gives a greater sense of accomplishment and purpose.
In Locke’s later published book, he gave the basics of successful, motivational goal setting:
1. Clarity – your goal should spell out exactly what it is to achieve.
2. Challenge – your goal should be more difficult to attain for better success.
3. Commitment – you will need to apply necessary commitment to achieve your goal.
4. Feedback – someone needs to tell you how well you’re doing, or you assess it on your own.
5. Task complexity – the goal has to be realistically achievable within the given time frame and the person’s physical/mental ability to achieve it.
As you get older, continuing to set goals can help you stay more active, more productive and likely healthier. Kate Wendleton, founder of the Five O’Clock Club, a national career coaching service, said, ‘The reality of death can make us get more out of the time we do have…At 40, 50, 60, you will find that you are now using everything you have ever learned in your life.”
Always having a goal you’re aiming for gives purpose, structure and drive to your daily life – one that may be missing when you retire. This time of your life is the perfect time to breathe life back into those big goals you put aside years before.
Dale Brown, B.S., M.A., C.E.C.
Natural Health News