How to Motivate Yourself With the Goal Setting Theory

A research report has shown that employee motivation levels are declining in the UK, with 29% of employees surveyed in 2018 acknowledging that they were not motivated at work in the year before. 

When asked about what affected motivational levels in the workplace, some of the answers were: lack of career progression, not having a good work-life balance, and working at a job that is not challenging. 

People want a good work-life balance that gives a sense of satisfaction and growth, but that does not come free to anyone. And that perhaps is the root cause of declining motivation levels in the society. 

How to be motivated 

First, you need to acknowledge the fact that humans have one capacity beyond that of the lower life forms: “We have the volitional power to choose our own goals. We have the power of reason which includes the capacity to form concepts through the process of thought.”

Hence, the goal-setting theory developed by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham; both Professors of Motivation and Organizational Psychology. The theory, based on more than 1000 studies, explains how goals can be used to regulate and improve your performance by identifying the type of goal and what it requires to get done.

Types of Goals

The goal-setting theory posits that there are four basic types of goals. They can be for:

  • Behavioral (e.g., contact five potential clients every day), 
  • Learning (e.g., discover 5 ways to improve your putting)
  • Outcomes (e.g., increase sales by 10% in the next 12 months). These can be used separately or in combination.)
  • On tasks where new knowledge has to be acquired, as to do one’s best is performing a task.

Attributes of effective goal setting. 

Goals need to be clear (specific). If they are vague or ambiguous, people will interpret them in their own idiosyncratic way. For example, telling people to “do their best” has no clear meaning. It does not lead people to do their best because the best is not defined. If you want people to do their best or come close to it, the goal has to be both specific and challenging.  If the goal is too easy, people will not have to try hard to reach it. If a goal is too hard (e.g., impossible) people may give up pursuing it.

A word is in order about what Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric called “stretch goals.” These are goals that are so hard that they may not be possible to reach (e.g., increase sales by 100% in the next year). However, under the right conditions, stretch goals can still be a motivation if it is made clear that it is for the purpose of stimulating creative thinking (“thinking outside the box”), and that there will be no penalty for not attaining them. 

However, specific, and challenging goals affect action in three ways. It helps to call attention to what is important and thus to direct our actions accordingly.  

Setting goals also help us to mobilize effort in proportion to what a task requires and challenging goals lead to more energy being mobilized than easier goals. 

Further, goals affect persistence. If people are committed to the goal, they will not stop until it is reached. Finally, goals motivate people to utilize or search for task strategies that will be effective for attaining them.

One of our utmost goal in life is to be a happy-go-lucky fellow that is highly motivated to pursue and have a fulfilling life.  But for that goal setting to be effective, there are conditions required. 

  1. First, there must be objective feedback to reveal the degree of progress toward the goal. This allows people to adjust their effort level and strategies especially if they are not making progress.  
  2. Second, there must be a commitment to the goal. Commitment is highest when the goal is important to an individual, and the individual has the knowledge/skill needed to attain it. 
  3. Knowledge or skill (i.e., ability) is a third moderating condition. 
  4. Finally, organizational support in the form of resources (i.e., time, equipment, and budget) facilitates goal attainment.

A non-motivated life is an unfulfilled life, don’t let that be your case. Pick a pen or grab your digital notepad now and start setting smart, realistic and stretch goals, because it will help you become highly motivated and therefore more successful in life. 

P.S: Do you have any questions on how I consistently pursued my goals until I succeeded as a property investor and how you can too? 

Click here Book a free 30 minutes consultation with me today. 

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