Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Importance of Goals

Do you want to use your time in ways that are more relevant – relevant to what you care about most in your life?  Of course you do!

The best way to do this is to fully harness the power of goal setting.  It will make your life more fulfilling, more successful, and – for your organization – more effective.

This seems obvious.  And yet, when given the freedom to choose, most people do not set goals or they do not set them effectively.

This blog is first in a series on goal setting which, if you follow the guidance provided, I promise you will improve your performance personally and/or for your organization.

Today’s lesson is that you are probably not setting goals nearly enough.  You are probably barely scratching the surface.  To maximize performance you should consider setting long term goals (e.g., five – ten years) which you then break down into annual goals, quarterly goals, weekly goals, and even daily goals.  To truly maximize performance, you should do this for every important domain of your personal and work life.

“That sounds like a lot, Rob.  Sometimes I just like to go with the flow.”

Understood.  And every now and then I like to go with the flow, too.  Just remember that every time we do that, we let the “flow” take us where it wants, versus where we have intentionally chosen to go.  And sometimes we can drift far away from where we would have intentionally chosen to be.  This leads us to the first important finding from the goal setting research:*

Goals direct attention and action toward relevant activities and away from non-relevant activities.

If you want your actions to be relevant – to address some aspect of your personal or work life that you care about – then set goals!  Isn’t life too short to spend your time on actions that are irrelevant?

If you buy this and think that maybe you can be more effective if you use goal setting more, then stay tuned for the rest of the series which will be devoted to showing you the most effective ways to set goals and focus them on producing results that are most important to you.


*Locke, E. A. & Latham, G. P.  A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ:  Prentice Hall, 1990.

1 comment:

  1. Great advice on goal setting.

    You may want to check out GoalsOnTrack.com, a very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and supports time tracking too. It's clear, focused, easy to navigate, worth a try.

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