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Strategies that enhance goal setting

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The arguments for and against goal setting will always remain relevant. Photo: PIXABAY

If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hope — Andrew Carnegie.

One of the hottest topics of discussion during the beginning of the year like this is that of Goal Setting. The deliberations, doubts and debates on this subject matter may never cease. The arguments for and against goal setting will always remain relevant. The reason being that both sides of the coin may have some practical experiences to defend their positions.

For those who are opposed to goal setting, they are of the opinion that it is a wild goose chase because the targets are never achieved; that goal-setting limits people’s potentials because they force people to focus on a few targets, which are borne out of myopic viewpoint. Moreover, there exist always some variables or factors which are beyond the control of the individual, which tends to frustrate goal setting.

As cogent as these reasons proffered against goal setting is, they are not significant enough to stop people from engaging in the business of setting targets annually. In the first place, life is all about achieving goals within a specified time frame. All mortals have the two important dates of birth and death. These two dates define our lifetime or span on this part of eternity. According to Bill Copeland, ‘the trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score’. Imagine a football match without a goal post! Imagine air, sea, or land journey without a destination!

Consequently, anyone who desires to benefit from goal setting must understand the meaning, the essence as well as appreciate it. Ignorance is always a heavy penalty with limitless consequences. Studies continue to confirm that goal setting is a major key to achieving significant success in every life endeavour. Consistent with this line of thought, Brian Tracy, in his great Book entitled ‘Goals’ (2003), reported the case of a decade study (from 1979-1989), carried out by Mark McCormack in Harvard University, which revealed that ‘the three percent population of the students who wrote down their goals after ten years of graduation, earned ten times as much as the other 97% of graduates all together. Tracy concluded that ‘the only difference between the groups was the clarity of goals the groups had when they graduated’.

Goal setting mobilises all the human faculties namely- spiritual, mental, emotional and physical abilities to begin as well as achieve great strides. It encourages synergy and ultimately, it helps to attain greatness. Goal setting makes the individual engaged in the venture to become attractive to others. Perhaps one of the most beautiful imageries of goal setting is that of the ant at work. The Holy Writ couldn’t but paint this magnificent picture better than when it charges mortals to go to the ant and learn. (Proverbs 6:6).

Goal setting brings out the best in each of us. Once the goal is clearly set and written down, it becomes a great motivator and energiser to achieve success and greatness. It propels us to act as well as directs us to the appropriate actions. In other words, goal setting empowers mortals to arrive at the best choices of action. It enables us to distinguish between wastage and productivity, liability and asset, stagnation and progress.

Goal setting is a major channel of happiness and satisfaction in life. While failure to achieve the set goals may cause some discomfort, succeeding in achieving them promises to be an experience of boundless satisfaction. We have seen successful athletes cry out in ecstasy, successful students perform great feats and elected politicians manifest unusual delivery.

Goal setting is inspirational. This benefit is for the individual as well as for others observing him or her. Particularly, goal setting encourages the individual to be more creative and productive as well as challenges others to be their best.

Consequently, goal setting should be carried out in a peculiar manner that would facilitate reaping the best benefits from the venture. Beginning from the popular strategy of using the acronym of SMART (for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound), the business of goal-setting should consider the peculiarity of the individual, such as his potentials, history, passion, and world view. It is taking into consideration the fact that people’s value systems differ. What is considered as a success for one person may not be for the other person? This point of personality differences in goal setting is very crucial because when factored into goal setting, it will remove the unnecessary pressures of psychic and emotional trauma, which tend to result from a comparative analysis of others with self.

Again, the success of goal setting should be considered in the light of available resources the individual has access to as well as can generate. Resources here, go beyond material and monetary assets and include others such as time, skill, level of education, network and intelligence.

Emotional intelligence would play significant positive roles in goal setting. Right from the outset of preparation to set the goals, deciding the specific goals, motivating self and managing resources to channel towards achieving the goals and actually striving to achieve them, the application of the principles of Emotional intelligence would enhance the attainment of the set targets.

Some of these principles of EI, which would be useful in Goal Setting, include the following; Self-awareness, Self-control, Adaptability and Conflict management. Self-awareness is very basic in setting the right goals. Socrates was credited with this aphorism, ‘man know yourself’. From self-awareness, one develops self-control, which is a fundamental principle of success in every human endeavour. The principle of adaptability would enable the individual who is involved in goal setting to set realistic goals as well as monitor the progress of the journey. In the course of the journey of success, one may have to make some necessary changes in terms of character, the strategy of action, obtaining resources and in other areas. Of course, there will arise several areas where the individual’s conflict management ability would be tested.

Goal setting would benefit from the investment of supervision and mentorship. The essence here is to create an accountability process, which will help the individual to achieve the desired target. Wisdom has it that what is not supervised shouldn’t be expected. An arrangement whereby the set goals are checked and crosschecked monthly, bimonthly or quarterly will obviously yield better results.

In addition, obtaining more enlightenment and education on the subject matter of one’s goal would bring great dividend to the business. For instance, many individuals have a financial target every year. Surely, it would be more beneficial to engage in a progressive programme of obtaining financial intelligence regularly as one pursues the target of creating more wealth.

In conclusion, I recall the wise words of Mark Victor Hansen who in relation to our subject matter, rightly said that: “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own’. It is time to conquer laziness and wastage of time. It is time to conquer procrastination. It is time to lay a solid and good foundation. We all have a rare opportunity of a lifetime to begin well again. Therefore, I urge you to arise and make the best of the moment. Create the time to set new goals or improve on the old ones. Insist on writing them down. Challenge yourself to conquer all your fears. Challenge yourself to become better this year. Begin now. See you at the top.


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