What Is Goal Setting?
Goal setting is a powerful motivator, the value of which has been recognized in an abundance of clinical and real-world settings for over 35 years.
‘Goals,’ are “the object or aim of an action, for example, to attain a specific standard of proficiency, usually within a specified time limit.” (Locke & Latham, 2002, p. 705) They are the level of competence that we wish to achieve and create a useful lens through which we assess our current performance.
Goal setting is the process by which we achieve these goals. The importance of the goal-setting process should not go unappreciated. According to Lock (2019) “Every person’s life depends on the process of choosing goals to pursue; if you remain passive you are not going to thrive as a human being.”
Goal-setting theory (Locke & Latham, 1984) is based on the premise that conscious goals affect action (Ryan, 1970) and conscious human behavior is purposeful and regulated by individual goals. Simply put, we must decide what is beneficial to our own welfare, and set goals accordingly.
Why do some people perform better on tasks than others? According to Ryan (1970), if individuals are equal in ability and knowledge, then the cause must be motivational.
The theory states that the simplest and most direct motivational explanation of why some people perform better than others is due to disparate performance goals, implying that setting and adjusting goals can significantly impact performance.