Why Set Goals?

We, humans, love goal-setting!  The news that science shows that goal setting increases the likelihood that you’ll meet the target has triggered a goal-setting frenzy across the world.  But what happens when we miss the target? And what happens when we meet it? I see people feeling down when they fail, and I also see people feel a letdown when they succeed!

Goals create focus.  The magic behind goals is that it creates clarity and focus.  When you write down a personal goal you focus your mind on doing things to meet that goal and eliminating things that don’t contribute to the goal.  It’s even better with groups of people because you can focus the energy of the team on the same thing. That’s why goals work.

Goals are not contracts.  A lot of the issue with goals comes from the fact that people feel like a goal an agreement signed in blood.  This causes all kinds of dysfunction where people try to meet the goal even when they miss the goal, such as “blame” and “falsifying results”.  People feel responsible to meet the goal regardless of what else happens.

Goals are experiments.  We can’t predict the future with any level of certainty.  The world is complex, there are so many unplanned events that can happen, we can’t know.  What we can do is to experiment and get creative to get to the goal.

What happens when we fail?  I never see things as failure when there’s learning.  When you miss a goal it’s a opportunity to get better.  It’s usually one of two things: 1) we failed to execute or 2) our hypothesis was wrong.  Think about the simple example of weight loss: my goal is to lose 10 lbs in 2 weeks, but I don’t.  Either I didn’t follow a healthy eating plan and exercise or 2 weeks simply not long enough to lose 10 lbs.  What can I adjust for my next weight loss experiment? This one I’m still working on folks!

How has goal setting hurt or helped you?  Let us know!