Happy Goal Setting!

Posted on December 8, 2017 by mmaloney

Have you ever had an employee who just didn’t seem motivated?

Have you had a team member who didn’t seem to have any drive to succeed?

Do you personally set goals and then feel bad when you fail at them?  Again!

Goal setting is something that people talk about all the time.  It seems to be something that we should have a handle on.  As simple as goal setting may seem, goal achievement is not as easy.  When is the last time you actually reflected on your personal goal setting strategies?  Have you reflected on what steps you take to motivate yourself?  Or Others?  Motivation like goal setting is easier said than done.   How many people actually spend time learning how to impact the motivation of yourself or others?

Motivation is the drive or desire to do something.  Within that drive or desire there are three elements that you also need to reflect on.  Too often people say the goal they are working toward is their motivation.  It may be what influences the motivation you have, but often it is not what motivates you.  Think about it, how many people do you know who have the same weight loss goals?  Why do some people achieve success while others don’t if they have the same goal?  It is more about these three elements that determine the success rate vs the goal itself.  The three elements of motivation are:

Direction- what are you actually going to do

Intensity- how much are you going to do it?  How hard are you going to work?

Persistence- how long will you keep working at it?  How willing are you to fight through obstacles?  What are you willing to sacrifice?

One of the greatest challenges with motivation is the fact that we live in a world of instant gratification.  Yet goals are not an instant success.  This goes for ourselves and also our employees.  I have watched so many University graduates expect promotions to management after only 1 year in the field.  The feeling of success not coming quick enough for them is hard to watch.  I have seen the best feel like failures because it just didn’t come fast enough for them.  They have grown up in a world where they are rewarded quickly.

Knowing this for ourselves and our people we owe it to them to look at different ways that we can set goals that can offer short term rewards.  These act as fuel for the motivation to keep at it long enough for the actual long term win.  Essentially delayed rewards lead to people giving up on things faster than before.  How can we increase immediate satisfaction to sustain long term motivation?

There are a few different theories on this.  Two I have used a lot and find to be really helpful.  Self Determination Theory looks at 2 impacts on self motivation:

Intrinsic- what you do for yourself


Extrinsic- what you do for social approval

Within the theory there are sub theories on how you can impact both of these areas.  One of those is that people choose activities that fulfil and satisfy three basic needs:

Autonomy- doing things on your own accord

Competence- do what you feel good at

Relatedness- do things for social connection.

When you think about these things it really does create curiosity about the impact these things can have in a work force and how we can impact them for employee performance.  Autonomy does not mean that I get to do what I want, it can mean that I have control over how I execute a must do task and find control within the control.  Or maybe it is that I have control over giving up control and choose to just let some control go.  This would be really important in jobs that have very specific tasks each day.

Competence is obvious, people want to feel successful.  I often say to the managers who work for me, “no one comes into work every day to fail”.  How can we feel more successful at what we do?  How can we help others feel successful?  We can do this by creating actionable tasks.  When you focus only on the end result goal there are a lot more chances to fail.  When the goals are broken down into consumable pieces success becomes easier to feel.  Keep in mind when you are goal setting that subjective results (how we feel and our level of satisfaction toward something) is just as important as objective results.

The concept of competence segues nicely into the final concept I want to share for effective goal setting.  It is a goal setting strategy that has proven to be very successful in sport, but I have carried it over into business and personal with the same success.  When you are setting a goal break it into 3 sections:

Outcome Goal- this is what you actually want “I want to lose 20 lbs” or “I want to sell 1000 units this quarter”

Process Goals- these are the things you need to do each day in order to actually achieve the outcome goal “I will sleep 8 hours a night, I will maintain a 1600 calorie diet” or “I will make 20 calls to clients per day”.

Performance Goals- these are measurable actions you will take along the way to measure the success achieved in the process goals.  Ie:  if my process goal for fitness is to go to the gym 3 times a week.  I will not see any changes at the end of each visit.  I will have measurable changes after 2 weeks, when I can expect to see my strength increase, or my flexibility to be better.

When you break the goals down into these measurable chunks it takes it back to the initial concept:  people want instant gratification and will stay motivated longer when they have it.  When you help others (or yourself) reach smaller goals faster, they (or you) will keep fighting for the end goal (the outcome goal).

We so often set goals only focused on the outcome and leave out all the other factors.  This is the greatest cause of failure. You need to decide what your drive, intensity and persistence will be.  You need to find daily wins.  This is how you can increase your chances of success.  As we are sitting with a New Year not too far away take some of these practices into your personal, professional, children’s or teams goal setting and I hope you reach new heights of success… happily!

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