Whether it is a small project or a dream company you’re planning, goal setting is an important part to succeed.
Here are 22 reasons why goal setting is important for success.
Myles H. Smith ACC, CRC, CPC, ELI-MP
Associate Certified Coach, Empowered Transitions
To me, setting a goal represents far more than just achieving or accomplishing whatever it is.
They take knowing and understanding why I chose the goal, and the willpower to make it happen.
I look forward to what I will learn and how I will grow along the journey, and to where the goal will lead me.
Goal-setting and fulfilling those goals takes me out of my comfort zone
By stretching myself and my capabilities, I gain more confidence, my belief in myself, and what I can accomplish.
From setting a goal of returning to college in my mid-forties, and graduating a year early, to making the successful transition into entrepreneurship in my late-fifties – I set clear goals for myself, decided what it would take to make them real in my life, and made it happen.
All because I set and worked to fulfill those goals.
For me, goal-setting is far more than the goal itself, it’s all the things I gain from the journey to the goal.
Treva Anderson, Ph.D.
Certified Mental Performance Consultant, A Performance Mindset
It is in our nature to seek improvement
Goal setting is by definition identifying something you want and working towards the achievement. For human beings to create change, we must identify what we want to change and work towards the plan.
In Ryan & Deci’s Self-Determination Theory, all people seek three things in life; relatedness, competence, and autonomy.
Therefore is in our nature to seek improvement in one or more of these three areas of our life, if not all three at any given time.
Many goals are focused on these and that provides the motivation that changes our behavior to ultimately achieve our goals. Individuals who are goal-focused tend to be.
Goal setting is more complex than most appreciate though. It’s not as simple as setting a goal and making it happen.
One of the best strategies is to set a goal and appreciate how great it will be when you achieve the goal, then consider the realistic challenges along the path.
We can set small goals throughout the day, for example, waking up early to work out or submitting a report on time. When we identify the goals, align those goals with our values, and consider the obstacles we might face, research shows we accomplish more.
Often when people struggle with their goals, there is an under-appreciation for the obstacles, their plan was not well thought out, the goal may have conflicted with other goals or values, their goals are focused on externally controlled factors, or they may struggle with self-regulation of their behavior.
At the age of 17, I set the goal to get my doctorate degree.
While I had no idea what challenges that would involve, I was 100% committed to the goal and the sacrifice required was no match for my determination.
I used a lot of other mental strategies along the way that helped me, but the commitment to the goal was a key factor in my ultimate success.
That degree has enabled me to help athletes, the military, and other individuals set and achieve high goals for themselves for over 15 years.
Certified Life Coach
Most people set goals because they think they will be a “better person” or “happy” once they reach it. The truth is, we are already complete whether we go after a goal or not. Our ability to be happy is the same now as it would be when we reach the goal.
When I tell people this, I often hear “Well, if that is true then why should I ever set a goal? Why not just do the easy thing and stay the way I am?”.
Here are 4 reasons why goal setting is important besides being “happier” or “better”:
- Maximizes potential – Having a goal forces us to face the things that are preventing us from seeing how great we already are!
- Gives us direction – When we have something we are working towards achieving, it gives our brain direction. Our brains are designed to have us expend the least amount of energy possible. Without purposeful direction, like goals, we easily succumb to unfulfilling desires like binge-watching Netflix.
- Life is more interesting – Whether we set a goal or not, we will have a mix of good and bad ups and downs in our lives. As we work towards a goal we get a new mix of good and bad, ups and downs. If we are going to have positive and negative experiences in life anyway, why not make them new and different ones?
- Results – Results don’t just happen to us. Goals are a way of deciding what you want the results to be instead of doing life haphazardly. You envision the life you want and then go get it.
Brian Bender, PhD
Not only is goal setting important, but taking the time to craft the right goal is paramount for achieving long-term success
As a certified nutritionist, I spend a lot of time thinking about diets and nutrition-related goals.
For example, it’s one thing to set a goal of weighing 20 pounds lighter. This can be achieved, more or less, on a variety of diets.
But it’s important to take a step back and assess the reason that goal was chosen. Perhaps it’s better to dig deeper.
Ask, “why this goal?” and you may uncover a more profound goal. For example, perhaps the reason you wanted to drop 20 pounds was to improve your health.
Now, your goal is “to improve your health.” In doing so, you will need to live a healthier lifestyle, complete with better nutrition and more physical activity.
Setting a goal of simply dropping 20 pounds often does not work for most people in the long run. After they meet their goal, they gradually return to their old habits and the weight comes back on.
But if the goal is to achieve a healthy lifestyle, your habits and lifestyle choices are required to change. In a small way, you must change the way you live your life.
Read related article: Best Nutrition Books
This will invariably lead to weight loss (if you are overweight, to begin with). But more importantly, the shift to a healthier diet and a lifestyle with more physical activity will ensure your weight stays at a healthy level for life. Which, at the end of the day, is required to achieve your true goal of improving your health.
Graig M. Chow, Ph.D., CMPC
Representative, Association for Applied Sports Psychology
It provides the direction and motivation necessary to enhance task accomplishment
Across settings (sport, exercise, business), goal-setting has been found to be one of the most consistent techniques for shaping behavior and influencing performance.
In addition, it directs attention to a task, facilitates the effort, prolongs persistence, and promotes new learning strategies.
How do you set and stick to fitness goals?
An important principle is to set challenging, yet realistic goals.
The goal must be challenging enough to instill proper motivation yet- not so difficult that it is unattainable- which can thwart motivation.
When creating a particular goal, the goal should ideally be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound).
Furthermore, it can be helpful to set daily/weekly goals and strategies that are clearly aligned with longer-term performance goals (e.g., lose 10 lbs.) and outcome goals (e.g., receive praise about my physique from significant others).
After establishing your goals, a very useful strategy is to identify potential internal (e.g., tired from a long day at work) and external (e.g., weather) barriers that may prevent you from achieving your goals, and then derive solutions to overcome these barriers.
This can help you be prepared for when such barriers inevitably occur.
Lastly, I recommend setting value-driven goals.
For example, if one of your core values is family, you could set a goal to run 3 miles with your parent, sibling, or child. Aligning values with behavioral goals increases commitment and persistence.
What are the consequences of choosing to forego goal setting?
Forgoing goal-setting can mean losing out on the benefits mentioned above.
Thus, reduced motivation, effort, persistence, and performance. Practicing goal setting consistently increases the likelihood that you will continue accomplishing meaningful tasks.
What are your recommendations for staying on track during the holiday season?
While it is important to set goals during the holiday season, it is also important to allow yourself to enjoy the holidays with family and friends.
This often means eating an unhealthy meal or missing out on a workout.
It is important to use self-compassion in these situations and then respond in a way that gets you back on track with your diet and exercise plan.
Recognize that holidays are also a time to practice self-care to rejuvenate and restore yourself.
How can you bounce back if goals are not met?
When a daily goal is not met, it is important to avoid catastrophizing (e.g., my diet is ruined because I had an unhealthy meal).
Accept and describe it for what it is (you ate an unhealthy meal) and then set an intention to get you back on track with your goals.
If you are continuing to not meet your goals, it can help to reflect on what might be causing this to occur, and strategize and adjust accordingly.
Modifying your goals is also appropriate if you determine that that initial goal was unrealistic.
Here are my top five:
- It helps me to take control of my life.
- It provides clarity and helps me with decisions and with prioritizing daily tasks.
- It works as a tool to actually achieve and create something.
- Goal-setting provides a sense of purpose and it is motivating by itself.
- It helps to be happier and thus has a positive impact on my health.
Now, you can ask the opposite question as well. What happens if you do not set goals?
If you do not work on your own goals you will inevitably work for the goals of others. You might only regret this when it is too late – this is on your deathbed.
What can be worth than a wasted life? Goal setting helps you to live a fulfilled life.
Many forms of goal setting: S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, assignable, relevant, time-based) versions, to do lists, happy planning, even vision boards intrigue me.
Goals force me to get super clear about my vision, and the steps needed to achieve the mission
Goals are good. If I don’t set goals, there would be little to no way to plan the journey aside from nonlinear ramblings inside my head.
I’m an author. Goals can help writers meet deadlines.
A common tactic I have used is to count the number of days until a deadline then divide it into a desired wordcount completion goal.
This gives me small goals for each day until the end of the project. My daughter uses this same technique to break down large college required reading passages into manageable chunks – goals.
Smaller goals within a larger goal create mini successes or readjustments along the way.
If I don’t set goals, there would be little to no way to track the journey aside from photos in my phone. For more than twenty years I have created vision boards.
Year after year these collages increasingly get more and more complex. I love using them as screen savers on my computer and phone to remind me of each step that needs to be climbed.
Goal setting can take many forms. Goals help me feel more organized, accomplished and clear.
Self-improvement and Children’s book Author | TEDx Speaker
Goal setting is important to me for many reasons.
It helps me stay focused on the task at hand — my priorities
With all that I am trying to do in a variety of forums (self-improvement books, children’s books, speaking, acting and creating positive media), if I don’t get ultra-focused on my particular goals it can be really easy for them to get lost in the shuffle, diluted and not be attained.
So, goal setting for me helps me stay super focused and on track.
How do I do that?
I get incredibly clear on what I want my end result to be
Let’s use writing and self-publishing a children’s book for example.
The ultimate goal is to have it find as large an audience of readers as it can, so there are many steps or mini goals that all contribute to reach that ultimate goal.
For starters, if I don’t have an illustrator already lined up, I will set a goal to find the best illustrator that I can that matches my energy, work ethic, style that I am looking for and budget.
Same goes for editors and layout specialists.
My first major goal that encompasses the mini goals I just mentioned is to have the book look professional, be exciting and read well.
After I have that taken care of, then I set a goal and figure out how I plan to produce the book.
Am I going to use Amazon’s print on demand model, or another such as Ingramspark to produce my books? Or even go out of the country and find a book manufacturer in China for example?
After that is determined I then start setting goals on how I want to market the book.
Am I going to go the traditional route with publicists etc. or am I going to try and think out of the box and get creative utilizing social media and other avenues to find it’s readership. Or a combination of both?
This is just an example of my thought process and how I use goal setting to my advantage.
If I don’t break things down, things can start feeling really heavy with all of the different steps that it takes to reach that ultimate goal.
And if you start adding on other projects, it can get can really muddled unless you stay focused and organized with your goal setting.
Momentum breeds success — keep building on it
Break your goals down into doable steps, which then becomes your plan. Once you have a plan then it’s all about putting it into action, which will then become your reality.
CEO and Founder, Ascensor
Having a goal not only gives you purpose but achieving it gives you satisfaction; a feeling of accomplishment
Goal setting is vital, without it, it would be like setting off on a hike without any idea of where you are going, how long it should take, what you need to prepare and take with you and how you would know when you were there?
Having a goal not only gives you purpose but achieving it gives you satisfaction, a feeling of accomplishment – or a lesson that you can take into the next challenge!
It is important to set goals in order to understand what targets you have to or want to reach. Setting realistic goals allows us to have a better chance of meeting and exceeding objectives.
Goals are clear lines that can be measured against. Whether they are reached or not, they provide a mechanism by which to review performance and set goals for the next period.
Goal setting is important to me and my business because it allows us to plan for the future and gauge where we need to be to hit certain targets.
We are looking to move to larger premises and by having a specific goal, with a deadline that is achievable, we all know what we need to do to get there.
We have learnt from the times where we haven’t had clear goals and now goal setting is a vital part of our business planning.
With goals you have every chance of success, without them, how do you know what success looks like?
Founder, Ideal Real Estate Investing
For me, not only is setting goals important but constantly reminding myself of them is important.
I recently discovered this when I wrote down a bunch of goals on my whiteboard, then just a week later I was undertaking a new project.
I floundered with it for a few days then finally checked back in with my goals just to realize that the reason I struggled undertaking the new project was because it wasn’t accomplishing any of my goals!
I had set my goals just a week prior and lost sight of them almost immediately.
That’s why goal setting is so important to me. Without giving myself direction, I’d be off trying to do 15 different things and probably failing at all of them.
With goals, I can stay focused on a couple things at a time.
Another reason that goals are so important is so important is because it can keep you focused on the important KPIs.
Whatever business it may be, there are certain indicators that might ‘feel good’ but don’t grow the business while other indicators actually show real business growth.
Jazz Musician | Writer
Goal setting is helpful to growth if done right
If done inappropriately, or not attached to a bigger dream, it can also be a hindrance to growth. The proper use of goals has made a tremendous difference in my writing and playing career.
I believe first and foremost that it’s important to allow your dreams to be as big as you want them to be. That’s the difference between a dream and a goal. A dream can be limitless in its size.
The goal is what allows you to approach the dream, even if you don’t ultimately realize it.
The goal is the step in the staircase on the mountainside. If it’s the right size goal, not too easy yet still attainable with a reasonable amount of effort, it will move you along at a pace that is encouraging and provide you with enough momentum and perspective that you can keep the dream alive.
My dream was to write a great novel. The Myth of Magic took me seventeen years to get right.
There were many, many small steps from creating the first draft to finding a good cover to figuring out how to reach the world.
At this point, I’ve written many novels, and I’ve applied my goal setting to my playing and my songwriting.
Life is a constant series of pleasant (usually) frustrations as I work towards the next goal.
Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I fail, but the process remains the same and it keeps me going forward.
Partner and CMO, Tushbaby
I became an entrepreneur at the age of 40. But only after spending nearly two decades working in highly political and challenging environments, where you were only as good as your last new client win.
Which in my industry — the advertising industry — you were lucky if you were batting a .200.
It was exhausting, grueling work and it took a toll on me mentally and physically. A mom of three, I was feeling sluggish and aimless.
I decided to change my life in four profound ways: I would leave my job, I would start my own consultancy, I would invest in a company I believed in and I would make time for my health.
By setting what I believed was a series of aggressive and somewhat scary but achievable goals, I knew I wouldn’t fail.
I had been successful in my career and though exhausted and beaten down in the agency world, I was one of the few women that had achieved executive status.
I had learned so much working with some of the largest and brightest brands in the world. I learned from their successes and failures.
I knew what worked and what didn’t. I also knew my clients loved and trusted me, some even encouraged me to make a change.
I also had a loyal group of co-workers that had followed me from agency to agency over the years. The only thing that was missing was my desire and the accountability to take the leap and make those goals a reality.
I did that by making my four goals known to my husband, mentor, children, parents and closest friends. I set a timeline and felt accountability to those I had shared my goals.
It took many months of planning, experimenting, outreach, conversations, humility and even a few forced and unplanned events to make it all happen but I achieved.
I opened my own consultancy, I became a co-founder and partner in a successful consumer goods company and I took back my health — finding an unknown skill and passion for Pilates.
But something unexpected also happened.
By setting these goals, I found purpose. And purpose, as I discovered is a pathway to happiness.
When you are happy, you are less likely to spend money frivolously and you are more likely to want to take care of yourself and others.
Purpose also tends to give you focus, which helps clear the mind of distractions. It’s a virtuous cycle that allows you to achieve your goals, and for me, that has meant finding happiness and continued success in both life and my new businesses.
I am working harder than ever but I’m the happiest I’ve been in years. I often ask myself why I waited so long to be accountable for my goals? By being accountable, I’ve become more bullish, confident and determined than ever.
So now every week, I make a series of small goals. I make them known to my husband and ask for help in order to achieve those goals and forgive myself if I miss one or two.
You better believe though I’m back at it each Monday and it feels great every time. Maybe I’ve discovered life’s little secret or maybe I’ve stumbled upon something every fool has already known because nothing feels better than checking off a goal.
Founder and Ceo, Zoomers Employment Services Inc.
It creates a visual map of where I am going as a person, my destination
This is because my goal setting is broken down to the various categories that make me up me as an individual. Physical, emotional, vocational, spiritual, personal development, educational and relationship.
I put these on separate pages (preferably different colors). This gives me a good snapshot ensuring that I am creating balance in my goal setting.
I restrict these goals to 3 max each category:
- Immediate – usually priority possibly a goal that must be completed in order to proceed with others.
- Short-Term – these are the lower priority that needs attention within the next 2 months.
- Long-Term – these are goals that will take time to complete or they have a timeline that is set for the future.
Now I have my map now I have my proceed, slow and stop signs by listing specific goals.
When listing goals I ensure to utilize the SMART goals model.
In this model I recognize for me the biggest barrier is in the R (realistic). While my goal may be possible the Realistic is the question of whether I am committed to doing the hard work needed to reach this goal.
This could mean if my physical goal is to run. Am I willing to do it on a snowy morning or is it something I say I want to do but won’t fully commit.
Now I have a destination, have my road signs and ensured I have enough gas to get me to my destination.
While this sounds more like a how than a why every step of how is keeping the end result in my mental forefront.
When I look at my goals it is that steadfast reminder of where I will be if I continue on my current path.
Now when people ask me where do you see yourself in 3 years, 5 years, 10 days or 10 minutes I know.
More importantly, I know how I’m going to attain them and the tools needed to make it happen.
Creator, Her Me Out
I’m a goal-oriented person; I like to check things off of my list. There’s nothing more satisfying than having something specific to do – and then actually doing it.
Goal setting is important for me because it defines what success is in the day to day or exactly how I can succeed in the foreseeable future.
This is crucial for me, a person who not only gets lost when the future isn’t clear (as many of us do) but, moreover, will choose to ignore the big picture when the little picture isn’t set-up along the way.
I don’t like this about myself, but I know this about myself.
I need goals – short term and long term goals – to see things through. To have little successes that lead to big successes and, more than that, just to actually move forward.
I think goal setting is a useful tool to get yourself to do something – anything! Even if you end up shifting goals or finding another path to success, the initial decision to work towards a goal is the most positive thing you can do. (Though, we cannot underestimate the importance of the follow-through.)
Mostly, goal setting is important for me because it gets me up and doing what I need to do.
It can be as simple as saying: this week my goal is to go to the gym 4 times. I like knowing that if I don’t achieve that, then this week I’ve failed. And who likes to fail?
Definitely not me, so setting the goal in the first place either makes me achieve it or makes me try harder for next week.
My goal setting ways come from knowing myself well and playing off my strengths and weaknesses.
My strategies for following through on goals? I always need to see the goals written in front of me, somewhere that I’ll see them every day.
When they’re written down, I can’t escape them, and, most importantly, I get to check them off the list once they’re accomplished.
This momentary satisfaction of succeeding is often underrated. Give yourself the joy of getting a gold star and write your goals down!
And if it’s a longer-term goal that you’re talking about, find a way to make shorter-term goals that lead to achieving the bigger goal.
With that, you get to discover success on the daily, rather than working towards some vast and distant idea of future success.
Goal setting is an essential part of creating success within your life.
Our minds work on a target. We need something to look towards, to find, and to seek. Having a clear goal activates our subconscious mind and focuses it on an outcome.
Whether a partner, job, or a vacation, the more clear the outcome, the easier it is to find.
Having a goal in life, no matter how small, gives you:
- a purpose
- a known end result
- direction for your decisions
- (and ultimately) a reward and sense of accomplishment
In your early years, goals were set for you. Go to school, do your HW, and eventually get a job and make money so you can have the things you want in life.
The problem people often face is they don’t know what they want in life.
It’s like the Cheshire Cat said in Alice in Wonderland when Alice hit a fork in a road. She asked, “Which way are we going?” Cheshire Cat responded, “Where do you want to go?” Alice said “I don’t know”, and Cheshire responded , “Then why does it matter?”
Creating goals helps you focus your life towards your hopes and dreams
Without this focus, people tend to take on bad habits, and this is where the sense of being lost comes from.
So if you are looking to create your story and have something, anything that sparks your mind and makes you smile, simply start by writing your goal down and thinking about it everyday. Then take one specific step toward that goal, and see how things start to evolve for you.
Campaign Manager, Monk Manual
When I want to go on vacation or to a business meeting, I find a flight, buy a ticket, go the airport, get on a plane, and travel to my goal destination. So long as I know where I want to go, I can find a way to get there.
If the flight is canceled, I can book a new flight, rent a car, take a train, etc. So long as I know where I’m going and when I need to be there by, I can find a way to get there.
Similarly, if I want to achieve something meaningful, I need to define what it is, when I want to achieve it by, and how I’m going to get there.
Once I know each of these items, I can reverse engineer the activities that will get me closer to that goal.
Just like a canceled flight, if something goes “wrong,” I can find a different path to my goals.
If I don’t act with the end goal in mind, then I won’t get what I want from life.
We don’t say “I want to go on vacation in Hawaii,” then go to the airport, blindly buy a ticket, and hope that the ticket will bring us to Hawaii.
We set a goal: Hawaii, reverse engineer how we will get there: flight SW244 leaving LAX at 10 AM, and then follow the plan.
For me, goal setting is important, but the key for me has been to reverse engineering the path to achieving those goals, and finding a way to get there no matter what obstacles come up.
Dawn Burnett, CSA
Founder, A New Dawn Natural Solutions, Inc.
Goal setting is extremely important to me.
I have set goals since I was in college and I have achieved most of them, of course, there is always a component of time that doesn’t belong to us so we do our part and surrender to the rest.
I have a vision board in my office, power words to remind me of my goals, 2 day timers with schedules to keep me on track in achieving my goals and a video reminder from the best-selling author Michael Singer, to remind me to surrender to flow because what we push too hard towards, it moves away from us.
Business Coach, Ali Zabel
I am a work at home mom with a toddler and one on the way.
In order to be both productive as an entrepreneur and mother then I need to set small realistic goals for myself to accomplish each day.
It helps me to see the bigger pictures and while I may not be able to conquer them as quickly as I did before I had children it is still so rewarding to cross a few items off the checklist each day and know I am working towards the bigger picture!
Yoga Teacher | Entrepreneur | Writer, You Choose The Way
Living without goals is like driving without a destination
All you’ll do is waste a bunch of gas and plenty of time. Before you get into the car, ideally, you know where you’re going. You can check the map, find the quickest, prettiest or cheapest way to get to where you’re going.
The same works with life. If you don’t take time to figure out where you’re trying to get to, you’ll waste a lot of energy and time, wandering down paths that are completely unaligned with your soul’s desires.
Ideally, you sit down and figure out a vision, or general ideal of what you want out of life. Refer back to it regularly. Change it as often as necessary.
Rafael E. Salazar II, MHS, OTR/L
President and Owner, Rehab U Practice Solutions
To quote the late, great Jim Rohn “Destination determines direction.”
I find goal setting incredibly important in my own personal and professional life because it helps me identify and focus on the destination I want for my life.
Once you have your goal or destination in mind, your brain and subconscious become primed to recognize opportunities that will help you reach that destination. So it’s also important to regularly review and update your goals as needed.
Professional Amazon Seller, Seller at Heart
It’s important to make a difference between ideas and goals.
I wanna be wealthy throughout my life. That’s an idea.
I wanna save $10 today. That’s a goal.
Set goals, not ideas. I set them as more realistic and more obtainable short term goals.
Achieve them, and go to the next one. Achieving your goals on a daily level will boost your confidence, reduce stress and in the end if you achieve all short-term goals you’ll achieve a long-term goal as a result.