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The Science And Psychology Of Setting A Goal

The Science And Psychology Of Setting A Goal

Goal setting has long been recognized as one of the most admired traits in human development. However, the non-achievement of goals is often neglected as there is no robust understanding of the subject and science behind it. Goal setting is not a casual process. This phenomenon has many established theories advocating it, and the benefits are sustainable and life-changing. So here is all that you know about Goal Setting models and their efficacy.

 

Pave your Path by the EEE Model

 

American Psychology Association published the EEE model of goal setting. This individualistic approach establishes that fixing goals and laying down a roadmap to that goal helps by delivering meaningful exposure to individuals' strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. 

 

Goals encourage their pursuers by enabling motivation levels and replenishing the courage needed to achieve them. Goals empower/ enable by helping an individual attain a balance between the present self and aspirational self. APA conducted extensive research on goal setting and found that people who had formalized an effective medium of fixing goals and a roadmap to achieve them were more likely to be successful than people who worked in an unstructured way.

 

Establish Goal Setting in your Life

 

An excellent place to look into while incorporating goal setting in today's turbulent times would be the famous Locke's Theory that has now become the basis of many workplace motivational theories followed by enterprises across the globe. 

 

Locke believed that there are five goal-setting principles; clarity, challenges, commitment, feedback mechanism, and complexity analysis. Clarity relates to how detailed and all-consuming knowledge about the goal is. Challenges refer to the extension of abilities and building up of strategies required to achieve that goal. Commitment relates to the level of dedication towards the goal and the value generated by it. The feedback mechanism relates to the perception, validation, and approval of our goals by others. If these five pointers are followed in their entirety, goal setting becomes a more straightforward process.

 

Goal-setting theory, as defined by Locke, also says that any particular goal has four major components: difficulty, specificity, reward reminders, and goal efficacy. A difficult goal always brings more psychological satisfaction as there is considerable exploitation of abilities. 

 

Initially, goal-setters shy away from fixing a difficult goal, but once that goal is achieved, they feel more energized, motivated, and self-satisfied from inside. Task regulation is a critical part of any goal. It is important for an individual to be clear on what outcomes are expected from a particular goal and which benefits to professional/ social lives are expected to achieve. 

 

Goals act as reminders of rewards and push people towards a specific task that is ultimately beneficial for their personalities and feelings of self-worth. Humans need goal setting as they are used to getting external/ internal reminders when some resource is lacking. But unlike physiological lack of resources like food and water, there are no physiological reminders like hunger and thirst when it comes to mental goals. 

 

This is why a fixed set of targets is needed to remind people why they need to achieve them. Goal setting is an extremely practical theory that considers both the efforts and the rewards associated with it. Locke advises goal-setters not to fall into the "optimism bias" where they could end up setting goals that have bedazzling awards and excite the mind and have a set of conditions that may be difficult to keep up with. In other words, analyses goals and their efficacy and choose ones that you are willing to bear the pain, labor, and effort for because these will bring results.

 

Scientific Antecedents of Goal Setting 

 

Goal setting has been tested on everyone, from athletes to medical staff to corporate officers in individual and group formats. The results have always concurred that goal-setting maximizes the chances of goal achievement, optimizes personal skills, and minimizes failures and disappointments. 

 

Therapeutic practices like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Anger Management use weekly target planning charts to measure client progress. In child-specific therapy, weekly goal-driven mood charts are used. The educational system runs on the examination-result-promotion model that's basically based on the goal-setting theory. Organizations practice goal setting by delegating tasks, roles, and responsibilities to specific individuals hired to fulfill specific purposes, performance analysis is another example of goal rewards and efficacy theory.

 

Most importantly, setting, working and then achieving goals rewards the pursuer with a more disciplined, optimistic, and pragmatic approach with life-changing benefits.

 

Author
Dr. Neda Khodaparast Neda Khodaparast, PsyD, QME, is the founder and CEO of The Green Room Psychological Services Inc. in San Diego, California. Dr. Khodaparast earned her doctorate from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in Boston. She has over 15 years in clinical practice providing individual and couple therapy, as well as conducting forensic evaluations for personal injuries, civil cases, immigration evaluations, and pre surgical clearance psychological evaluations. She has also been conducting medical-legal worker’s compensation evaluations as a Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME) Since 2014. Dr. Khodaparast specializes in utilizing psychodynamic orientation and focuses on treating trauma and PTSD including childhood sexual and physical abuse, sexual assualt’s survivors, war truama, as well as eating disorders, and adoption related issues. She appreciates the complexity of human’s psyche and understands the process and the importance of “meeting the patients where they at.”

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