BlogGoal Setting- The Basics

So, it’s the start of a new year, 2017, what better time to set out some things to accomplish? Most journeys towards achievement begin with an idea, a goal so to speak. From a psychological perspective, setting goals is a relatively general skill, and therefore goal-setting is a vague topic. For the sake of keeping this blog at a readable length, we’ll split “the basics of goal-setting” into 2 parts. This will be the first part, and it will touch on WHY it’s important to set goals and one way of HOW to do it. The second part will be released later this month and will discuss different types of goals and the implications of each.

In the eyes of many successful people, goal setting is fundamental to any endeavour. If you don’t set goals, how will you find the path to get to where you want to be? Whether it be in school, business, sport, or other, goals provide us with direction, and instil in us a sense of motivation to accomplish what we set out for ourselves. Four specific ways in which goals can help you achieve success are: directing attention, increasing motivation, improving persistence when encountering obstacles, and developing new learning strategies (Locke et al., 1981).  Without setting goals, people often lack direction, and without direction it becomes easy to lose motivation.

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Hopefully now you’re convinced that it is important to set goals, but how do you do it?

One of the best and easiest ways to set goals is to follow a simple acronym. Some of you may have heard of SMART goals before, but here we’re going to follow SMARTEST goals.

Here’s what it looks like:

S – SPECIFIC: ensure the goal includes some detail rather than being very general

M – MEASURABLE: ensure that you can measure whether or not you achieved the goal in some way

A – ACTION: what are things that you can and will need to do to achieve this goal?

R – REALISTIC: checkpoint; is this goal realistic for you?

T – TIME: WHEN are you going to complete this goal?

E – EXPECTATIONS: set 3 different levels of your goal; a gold level (dream goal), a silver level (realistic goal) and a bronze level (a goal of self-acceptance). Often times there are many uncontrollable factors along the way to achieving a goal, and so setting different levels of expectations is a great way to still feel accomplished even if the dream goal is not reached.

S – SURROUNDINGS: checkpoint; how is this goal going to affect you and those around you positively/negatively?

T – TOOLS: what things do you have and what things to you need to accomplish this goal? Think internally (yourself, your attitude, etc.) and externally (money, time, etc.)

It might look simple, but going through this process or one like it helps to better define what you need to do to reach your goal, which at the end of the day is what everyone wants.

We’ll end this blog with some numbers. The internet is full of stats on goal setting, but it’s difficult to verify their credibility. One such stat suggests that 83% of people do not set goals, 14% have goals only in their heads, and the remaining 3% write their goals down. It further suggests that people in the 14% are on average 10x more successful than the 83% without goals, while the 3% are 30x times more successful than the 83%. Though it’s difficult to know if these numbers are accurate, the majority of the research suggests that setting goals is better than not setting goals, writing them down is even better, and following a process (eg. SMARTEST) is EVEN better. So the real question is, how will make sure that you achieve your goals?

If you want to learn more about goal setting or how to achieve your goals head over to the contact us page and send us an email or give us a call! In the meantime, stay tuned for part 2!!



Locke, E. A., Shaw, K. N., Saari, L. M., & Latham, G. P. (1981). Goal setting and task performance: 1969-1980. Psychological bulletin, 90(1), 125-152.


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