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Five Key Characteristics of Successful Goal Setting

Setting goals is something you probably already recognize is necessary for success. And you probably have heard your goals should be "SMART" goals. But did you know there's solid research behind this well-known acronym?

S.M.A.R.T. 






S.M.A.R.T. 

These concepts were born in 1968, when Dr Edwin Locke published his pioneering article "Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives.“

S.M.A.R.T. ď‚—

Locke's research showed that employees showed increased motivation when they had clear goals and appropriate feedback


Aware of Dr. Locke's work, Dr Gary Latham, another American researcher, also studied the effect of goal setting in the workplace. His results supported exactly what Locke had found.

Goal Setting 

Together Locke and Latham outlined five key characteristics of successful goal setting. ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦

Clarity Challenge Commitment Feedback Task complexity

Clarity ď‚—

When a goal is specific and has a definite time set for completion, there is less misunderstanding about what is expected

Challenge ď‚—

Make your goals challenging, but well short of impossible. Seeing yourself achieve a lofty goal, and with it a more valuable or higher reward, will motivate you to do a good job.

Commitment 

One version of SMART, as used in manager/employee scenarios, has A and R standing for Agreed and Realistic instead of Attainable and Relevant.

Agreed goals lead to commitment, and both parties must agree the goal is Realistic.

But if you’re self-employed, the same concepts hold true. The harder the goal, the more commitment is required.

Feedback ď‚—

Feedback is important so you can adjust goal difficulty when necessary, and reward yourself. If it is taking too long to reach a goal, for example, it may need to be broken down into more Achievable chunks.

Task Complexity ď‚—

If your goals are highly complex, take care to ensure that the work doesn't become too overwhelming.


Give yourself enough time to meet the goal, and if necessary, build in extra time to learn new skills or find required resources, or chunk it down as above.

Goal Setting ď‚—

The whole point of goal setting is success. Make sure the conditions surrounding your goals don't keep you from accomplishing them

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Five key characteristics of successful goal setting