8 Goal Setting Techniques (and Tips) to Achieve Your Goals in 2020

Goal setting has traditionally been based on past performance. This practice has tended to perpetuate the sins of the past - J.M Juran.
Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals - Aristotle.

And it was Benjamin Mays who said:

The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.

Ideally, goal setting should be based on looking into the future to outline what should be achieved rather than trying to correct past mistakes. It involves the the process of identifying something that you want to accomplish and establishing measurable goals and time frames.

Goal is something that you're trying to achieve, It is an idea of the future or desired result that a person sees in his mind or a group of people envision, plan and commit to achieve within a specified period of time. Goal setting has to do with creating a measurable and realistic image of what you want to achieve in a given time space.

Goal setting is an essential component of both personal and career development and greater achievements.

Edwin A. Locke after researching goal setting for over 30 years propounded a theory called "Goal setting theory"

The theory states that the simplest most direct motivational explanation of why some people perform better than others is because they have different performance goals.

The difference between why some people do better and achieve more than others lies in their goal setting. Note that goal setting may not be the only determinant or factor why some perform better than the others. Some goals are easier than others and the quality and quantity you achieve depends on the quality of time put in setting the goals, the weight of the goal itself, ability to follow up with the goals or the goal implementation. Some beautiful and intelligent goals are left unaccomplished because of the lack of discipline to implement the set goals.

8 Goal Setting Techniques

The incredible 8 Goal Setting Techniques (and Tips) to Achieve Your Goals in 2020 include the followings;

  1. SMART Technique

  2. HARD Technique

  3. WOOP Technique

  4. 4C F Technique

  5. GROW Technique

  6. CLEAR Technique

  7. SPIRO Technique

  8. Backwards Technique

1. SMART Model:

George T. Doran’s 1981 paper in Management Review to identify how can we find out if our goals are worthwhile and purposeful, talks about the S.M.A.R.T way of setting goals and this has become a gold standard that is relevant in both personal and career/business development. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound.

  1. Specific: Your goal should be clearly defined or identified as it's not just enough to state it (i.e say exactly what you want to achieve). When you clearly define your goal, it will be easier for you to stay focused on the goal and it also helps you to develop other strategies or objectives to achieve your goal.

  2. Measurable: Your goal should be measurable; there should be an indicator that will check what you have achieved. This indicator could be a number or anything that will tell you what you have achieved or your level of progress.

  3. Achievable: Your goal is to identify what strengths you have in you so that you can device a mean of increasing your personal or business output or performance on the invested energy. Difficult specific goals lead to significantly higher performance than easy goals, no goals, or even the setting of an abstract goal such as urging people to do their best. Why this is important, you should understand that setting a goal that is not feasible may lead to abandoning the goal. A goal beyond the capability of a system cannot be achieved and therefore, you should set goal that can be achieved within the resources available.

  4. Realistic: Your goal should be directly tie to your overall vision be it your personal development or career/business. You have to be honest with yourself and tell yourself what result you want to gain from setting the goal.

  5. Time bound: Goals set without time limit of achieving it may take a longer time to be achieved than the one within a specified limit of time. Goal can be short, medium or long term depending on your capacity or the capacity of your system or even the nature of the goal itself. If your goal is not time bound, you may spend longer than necessary in achieving what you can achieve in shorter time.

Let's consider this as an example of goal you have set for yourself, "To gain 3 kg body weight in 90 days" 
Now, let's place this your goal side by side with the SMART model. You have clearly stated what you would want to achieve (3 Kg weight increase) from setting the goal  and this defines "S" in the SMART model. This goal is more specific than saying "To gain body weight in 90 days" as the former specified the quantity of weight to gain. You can measure the progress of your goal using the different available weight measuring instruments. This goal is achievable because research has shown that men who had never lifted weights before, gain over 1 kg of lean body mass in just one month and more (3-4 kg) for the professionals. Is this goal realistic? The answers to this depends on the overall on your vision. It's realistic for you that wants to become a professional heavy weight fighter or boxer but for someone with the vision of becoming a successful entrepreneur, it's not realistic. The goal is set to be achieved within  90 days.

2. HARD Model: This model was developed by Mark Murphy in his well-researched 2009 book Hundred Percenters, to set effective goals. It is an acronym that stands for Heartfelt, Animated, Required, Difficult. It's a very powerful tool in setting long term personal goals.

  1. Heartfelt: Research has shown that many of humans decisions are instigated by emotion rather logic. Most influential factor that triggers most people in decision making is emotion. Set your goal on your emotional desire because your are most likely to pursue any goal that you have emotional connection with.

  2. Animated: Visualize your goal. This simply means creating an image of how you would look like and the feelings when you have already achieved your goal. Positive feelings and image of yourself when you have achieved the goal will you help in making better decisions toward your goal.

  3. Required: Build a sense of urgency and necessity into the goals you’re setting. Express in a very clear manner why setting that goal is important to you and what it can contribute to personal life or career and the condition that must be met to achieve this goal. This could be a great source of motivation when you know it.

  4. Difficult: Difficult specific goals lead to significantly higher performance than easy goals, no goals. Set goal that requires you to learn new skills.

What if your goal is; I must save up to a $100,000 in order to start my retail business.
Your desire (Heartfelt) is to start your retail business but there is a condition (Required; $100,000) you must meet before you can start your business and meeting this may be difficult.

3. WOOP Model: This model was designed collectively by Gabriele Oettingen and Peter Gollwitzer, psychologists at New York University. It's an acronym that stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.

  1. Wish: Make a wish of something you want to accomplish, it should be real, exciting, something challenging.

  2. Outcome: Here, you imagine what would happen if your wish came true and the feeling of how would the outcome make you feel.

  3. Obstacle: Always expect the uncertainty or an obstacle that may likely hinder you from reaching your goal.

  4. Plan: Draft the plan(s) that you will use in tackling the identified obstacle if it occurs.

Here is your goal: I want to score A's in all my courses so I can become the best student in my class but I'm easily distracted by people when reading, so I will focus on reading in a secret place. Your wish is to score A's in all your courses with the outcome of becoming  the best student in the class. Your obstacle is that you're easily distracted during your personal studies when people are around. To overcome this, you planned to start reading in a secret place.

4. 4C F Model: Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham in 1960s identified that there are five (5) fundamental principles for setting effective goals. This fundamental principles are the 4C F (an acronym for Clarity, Challenge, Complexity, Commitment, Feedback) and there is direct link between the use of these principles in your goal and your goal achievement level.

  1. Clarity: Your goal should state in a clear and concise way exactly what you want to achieve, this will help you feel motivated to fulfill the goal and can easily identify the reward you will gain from completing the goal. It's also important here to be specific in your goal and estimate the time you would want to accomplish the goal.

  2. Challenge: There is a linear relationship between the reward you will gain from your goal and how challenging your goal is. Your goal should be self motivated as motivation helps you to put in your best in pursuing your goal. The larger your motivation, the more your goal is perceived to be challenging.

  3. Complexity: A goal is allowed to have different interconnected parts as long as they can be viewed as a single unit in a logical sequence but you must be mindful of how complex your goal is. When your goal is too complex, you or team member(s) may become confused about the way to achieve the goal and this will lead to decrease or poor motivation for the goal.

  4. Commitment: You should be committed to your goal, one of the best way to do this, is to see yourself as a bundle of human resources. For goal that involves other members to accomplish it, it should be planned with every team member that will be involved and it should be properly communicated. Since your team members formed part of the planning, it will keep them motivated to do the task.

  5. Feedback: Once you have delegated the task, it's not enough trying to monitor the progress of the task but provide regular feedback to the team members especially at the early stage of the project. If your goal involves customers' satisfaction, it's important you get feedback from your customers to know if you are achieving the goal.

For more and effective discussion on this, get a free pdf on effective goal setting. Got any question? Please use the contact page to send in your question(s).

5. GROW Model: This model was created collectively by Business Coaches Graham Alexander, Alan Fine and Sir John Whitmore in the 1980s (Nguyen, 2018).

GROW is an acronym that stands for:

  1. Goal: You decide on what you want to achieve and your main aim of wanting to achieve it.

  2. Reality: This answers some basic question, about yourself or your business that will help you in achieving your goal. It answers questions like, Where are you now? What are some of the barriers that will prevent you from achieving your goal?

  3. Options: What are the resources available to you and how do you make use of this resources to achieve your goal, is there any option of changes you can make to your own behavior to overcome the expected barriers?

  4. Will: What will you do to attain your goal? How can you start making changes or tapping into available resources to achieve your goal?

This model reveals your strength and weakness that may guide your goal setting and the things that are needed to be done to attain your goal.

Assuming this is your GROW goal: To build a duplex of $300,000 in the next 3 years but my annual income is $150,000 and I spend a lot, so I will have to spend less. 
Your Goal is to build a duplex of $300,000 in 3 years while identifying your Reality as your annual income of $150,000 and excessive spending of your income. your Option and Will is to minimize your spending so you can save enough for the project.

6. CLEAR Model: This model was created by Kreek in 2018. CLEAR is an acronym that stands for Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, Refinable

KREEK says

The problem with SMART goals is that they just haven’t kept up with the faster, more-agile environment that most businesses find themselves in today. These new business environments require a new way of setting goals. This problem is why I developed the CLEAR goal-setting methodology.
Whether in your business, career, or life, your goals must be smarter than SMART.
  1. Collaborative: The desired goal needs to include a team or social element that drives everyone to contribute to success.

  2. Limited: Your goal must be limited in time duration and the scope of the goal needs to be achievable within this duration of time.

  3. Emotional: Your goals should be linked to your core values, as an individual, and as a group. Goals with emotional links are better achieved than those without emotion as many decisions are based on emotion.

  4. Appreciable: Your goal should be broken down into smaller objectives that can easily be performed. This will help you to accomplish your goal more readily.

  5. Refinable: Your goal should not be too rigid, set goals that can adapt to change, one that can easily be modified and refined in the case of uncertainty.

Read more on the CLEAR goal process

7. SPIRO Model: This model was created and published in "The 1972 Annual Handbook for Group Facilitators" by Pfeiffer and Jones but it was taken over by the SMART model in the early 1980s. SPIRO is an acronym that stands for Specificity, Performance, Involvement, Realism, Observability.

  1. Specificity: Set specific goals because the more specific our goals are, the easier they can be achieved.

  2. Performance: From an individual and a coach/facilitator perspective, what are the outcomes that your're looking for, and how do you want to feel.

  3. Involvement: What are your involvement, what will you do to achieve this your goal.

  4. Realism: Check if it's possible to achieve your goal in the time-frame and also ensure that the goal fits with personal values and current lifestyle.

  5. Observability: It's important at this point to ask yourself questions like; How do I know if I have attained my goal? How will I know if I'm making progress in achieving my goal? This is similar to measure in SMART model.

SPIRO is useful for group goals and it's a great leadership tool to help get everyone on board with a goal.

8. Backwards Model: This model is an effective way of establishing the steps necessary to your goal. The principle behind this model is based on working backward from the expected end result. It helps creating objectives that focus on the goal, it's a solid form of personal goal setting and it's mostly employed by teachers (Education and training).

Backward model is more than reversing the direction of your forward plan. It's about adopting a different perspective and, perhaps, identifying different milestones as a result.

Backward model is what is mostly employed by teachers, lecturers, speakers and coaches to prepare the presentation that aligns with the goal or curriculum. It's also applicable in personal and career development. Let's look at this step by step method of goal setting with the Backward model.

Step 1: Specifically write down your goal with the date you want to achieve it.
Example: By December 2035, I will become an academic professor.
Step 2: Ask yourself what milestone you need to accomplish just before becoming a professor, by when?
Example: By January 2034, I would have gotten my post doctoral experiences (Personal researches and publications).
Step 3: Ask yourself again, to gain this post doctoral experiences what do i just before it and by what date?
Example: By November 2030, I would have completed my doctoral degree and had participated in assistanceship.
Step 4: Take a walk backward again and ask yourself what you need to do that will qualify you to start the journey of gaining doctoral degree and assistanceship with the date.
Example: By October 2025, I should have specialized (Master) my degree.
Step 5: What do I need to be qualified for Master degree and by what time?
Example: By August 2020, I should have gained a bachelor degree. 

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