Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

6.2D: Setting Goals

  • Page ID
    8055
  • Goal setting involves establishing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-targeted (S.M.A.R.T. ) goals.

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

    Give examples of the ways in which improving choice, effort, persistence, and cognition affect outcomes in goal-setting

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

    • Setting goals affects outcomes in four ways: choice, effort, persistence, and cognition. Individuals tend to exhibit more of these positive qualities when they are working toward a goal.
    • The enhancement of performance through goals requires feedback. Without feedback, goal setting is unlikely to work.
    • Edwin A Locke concluded that 90% of laboratory and field studies involving specific and challenging goals led to higher performance than did easy goals or no goals at all.

    Key Terms

    • feedback: Critical assessment on information produced.
    • goal: A desired result that one works to achieve.

    Setting goals involves establishing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-targeted (S.M.A.R.T. ) benchmarks for results. Work on the theory of goal-setting suggests that it’s an effective tool for making progress because participants in a group with a common goal are clearly aware of what is expected from them. On a personal level, setting goals helps people work toward their own objectives, which are most commonly financial or career-based goals.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKKwOdi1VhU

    Setting Goals – A Story Time Running Journey: This video shows how setting goals can be used for sports – in this case, for running.

    Elements of Goal-Setting

    Setting goals affects outcomes in four ways: by improving choice, effort, persistence, and cognition. By choice, we mean that goals narrow attention and direct efforts to goal-relevant activities, and away from perceived undesirable and goal-irrelevant actions. Secondly, goals can lead to more effort. For example, if a person typically produces four widgets an hour, and sets the goal of producing six, he may work more intensely toward the goal. Third, through improved persistence, someone becomes more prone to work through setbacks when pursuing a goal. Finally, by cognition, we mean that goals can lead individuals to develop and change their behavior.

    Five Great Reasons Why You Should Set Goals: Goal-setting is used in business for sustainability, progress, and continued success.

    image

    Goal setting and achievement: Athletes set goals during the training process. Through choice, effort, persistence, and cognition, they can prepare to compete.

    The enhancement of performance through goals requires feedback. Goal setting and feedback go hand in hand, for without feedback, goal setting is unlikely to work. Providing feedback on short-term objectives helps to sustain motivation and commitment to a goal. Feedback should also be provided on the strategies followed to achieve the goals and the final outcomes achieved as well. Goal-setting may have little effect if individuals can’t see the results of their performance in relation to the goal.

    Studies in Goal-Setting

    The first empirical studies were performed by Cecil Alec Mace in 1935. Later in the mid-1960s, Edwin A. Locke began to examine goal setting, a topic he continued to explore for thirty years. He concluded that 90% of laboratory and field studies involving specific and challenging goals led to higher performance than did easy goals or no goals at all.