You probably know by now that taking the time to set specific goals will mean the difference between staying stagnant and making progress. But did you know that the words you use to formulate those goals matter almost as much. This is because, according to Amitava Chattopadhyay in a recent article, it’s not necessarily the achievement of goals which motivate us, but how we plan to achieve them.
Factors which contribute to how well motivated we are include our cultural background, personality styles, and overall work ethic. Studies also indicate that we are more likely to achieve new goals if we’ve already had success with this process in the past. Chattopadhyay explains that we feel “motivated to tend to what we’ve already achieved.” Essentially, we’re great at building on earlier successes.
In modern American culture, many people are motivated by the desire for individual success and achievement, which is why we value healthy competition. To be recognized for our greatness, to stand out in the crowd, to get that much-wanted promotion – these are strong and powerful motivators. However, these are external motivators. For goal-setting to work, you need to add in some internal motivators as well.
So when the time comes to set goals, there are a few elements you need to take into consideration. First, you need to evaluate your history with goal setting. Envision a time when you set goals for yourself and actually achieved them. What was that process like? What were the factors which made it possible for you to achieve what you set out to achieve? Try to recreate that process.
Next, set milestones for yourself. Studies have shown that our dedication to achieving long-term goals fizzle out over time if we don’t find a way to stay consistently motivated. Instead of falling victim to that pitfall, set many short-term goals that will keep you on track towards bigger things.
Finally, be specific in your goal setting. Unnecessary ambiguities will make it easier for you to find loopholes in your plans. You need to be able to envision the end goal, in its entirety, so you know exactly what you need to do to get there.
Read more at Insead Knowledge.
What are some things that you do to stay motivated to achieve your goals? Do you find yourself motivated more internally or externally? How has your goal-setting process changed over time?