What is goal setting and why is it needed: techniques + examples from life

Hi all! Lyudmila is in touch. What are you willing to do for $1,000,000? Probably a lot! Are you ready to work like a gray gelding for 10 years for the sake of this money? And if you found out that as soon as you earn your first million, it will be stolen from you on the same day and you will be the same person again, would you begin to hunch over the years? And if you know that this million will cause your death, would you start earning it? It turns out that you are no longer willing to do much for a million dollars! In a person’s life, the end does not always justify the means and achieving the goal depends on the circumstances. In this article we will talk about what goal setting is and why we need it.


What is goal setting

What is goal setting in simple words? Let us define the concept of goal and goal setting and characterize the process.

Goal setting is a conscious choice, setting a goal (the main task), identifying subtasks and finding ways to achieve them. A goal is an object, an object, a state to achieve which a person makes volitional efforts. The choice and achievement of goals are based on the needs of the individual. They set the direction of movement and determine motivation. If you dream about “something” and think that you will get it “somehow” or do it “someday,” then you will never achieve what you want. Only specifics and active actions will make you a happy person.

Goal setting is considered in psychology, philosophy and social science. It is defined as the process of selecting ideas, means, resources and establishing the boundaries of acceptable deviations in the implementation of the chosen idea. It's a continuous process. Why? Because even in the process of achieving a goal, new ideas are born.

The goal setting scheme includes the following blocks and levels:

Important! In simple words, goal setting is a person’s conscious determination of what, when and how he will achieve it. This is not only choosing a goal, but also developing a step-by-step plan for achieving it.

Why is it needed?

Why is goal setting necessary? Without the ability to set goals, it is impossible to achieve success in life and its individual areas: work, study, love. Consistently defining goals and achieving them helps an individual move forward confidently, conquer new heights, and improve the quality and standard of living. A successful person always knows what he wants and how to achieve it.

He who does not have his own goals lives for others. He becomes driven, controlled. He gives his time and energy to other people, helping to achieve their goals. Those people who know how to set goals become leaders. They are leaders, not followers.

Let us present in the form of a table a general comparative analysis of the conscious and unconscious organization of the goal-setting process according to the main criteria:

Conscious (effective, active) goal settingUnconscious (unconscious, ineffective) goal setting
Opportunities for growthProblems, obstacles, difficulties
Conscious motivation and opportunity analysisUnconscious motives and movement at the unconscious level
Imagining an ideal but realistic futureImagining an ideal but often unrealistic future
Search for resources and tools, development of new behavior patternsRepeating mistakes, following a pattern
Controlled goal achievement and successLife "with the flow" and failure

Thus, goal setting increases the overall efficiency of life and human productivity, helps manage time and activities, develops awareness and systematic thinking. In addition, it helps to find the purpose and meaning of life, relieves fears and anxieties. Important! In psychology, it is customary to distinguish two types (types) of goal setting: active (conscious) and passive (unconscious).

In what areas is it used?

As we have already mentioned, goal setting is in demand in all areas of life. Let's look at several particular areas where the ability to set goals and achieve them is the basis for success:

  1. Pedagogy and psychology. Any subject-subject interaction has a main goal, subtasks and means of solving them. There are hundreds of psychological and pedagogical theories, dozens of training and educational programs, thousands of teaching, education and correction techniques. You can't do this without planning.
  2. Sport. Athletes need training in order to set new records and raise the personal bar of achievement higher and higher. And this is impossible without goal setting. It helps to gradually develop skills and choose increasingly complex goals.
  3. Business. You may have heard the quote from Steve Jobs that you should not work 12 hours a day, but with your head. This refers to the importance of goal setting, planning and analytics. Where does a business start? From setting the goals of the project, or more precisely from developing a business plan. First, a person sets a goal for himself, and then thinks about what steps he needs to go through, what tools to get, etc.
  4. Self-development. Getting rid of bad habits and developing positive habits, changing your way of thinking, giving up destructive attitudes, getting rid of grievances and working through traumas - this and much more requires the ability to set goals and achieve them.

How to set goals correctly

For a goal to work, you need to know the rules for setting it. They are spelled out in management and indicated at all trainings. Violation of the rules and fundamentals of production leads to a decrease in efficiency.

Construction principle

There are various technologies and methods of goal setting, but the basic principles for constructing results are:

  • precise specific rationale;
  • indication of the date by which the goal must be fulfilled;
  • formulation - only in positive terms. For example, you need to say “I want to be slim” instead of “I don’t want to be fat”;
  • it is necessary not to use words that can reduce the effectiveness of the goal: must, must. These terms are antipodes to the word “I want”. Therefore, for all purposes, it is necessary to replace the word “Need” with “I want”, “Must” with “I can afford”. There is a very simple exercise: you need to write down goals in various areas of life. For convenience, they can be divided, for example, home, family, work, study, health, and so on. In each paragraph it is worth writing goals in the wording in which a person is used to formulating them. After this, you need to look through the list and change all the words. Such goals will work more effectively because the person’s subconscious works with them.
  • It’s better not to set unrealistic goals for yourself, but to break a large one into several subgoals. For example, the dream of buying a cottage in the city center seems impossible to many. However, if you move towards the goal evenly, in slow steps, then it will be achieved faster.

It is worth remembering that you cannot earn 10,000 rubles today and five hundred tomorrow. The process of effective goal setting also involves a change in thinking. It must be positive. Large sums of money love prepared people. And of course the desired result must be specific. For example, “I want to make a profit” and “I want to get an additional 20,000 rubles. this month". Of course, the 2nd goal looks more specific; it contains both numbers and a date.

Important! By implementing the principle of purposefulness, goal setting allows you to set precise goals tied to specific activities without exchanging for others.
This is especially visible in social science, because goal setting implies obtaining initial basic knowledge to set precise, specific goals.


The basis of goal setting is the motives and needs of the individual. Let's look at both elements in a little more detail.

A need is a strong attraction to something and a desire to possess it, a feeling of internal psychological or physical discomfort due to a lack of something. Needs are basic (physiological) and spiritual. A transition to a new, higher level is possible only after satisfying the needs of the previous level.

In total, it is customary to distinguish 6 levels of needs (according to A. Maslow’s pyramid):

  • physiological (food, water, sleep, sex);
  • need for security (security, confidence, stability, comfort);
  • social needs (communication, attention, care, support);
  • the need for respect and recognition (need, significance);
  • creative needs (creation, cognition, discovery);
  • aesthetic needs (love, joy, harmony, beauty);
  • spiritual needs (self-realization, self-actualization, self-development and other “self”).

All the goals we choose relate to these needs.

Motive is an internal impulse that encourages action. As goals, we choose what is not only significant and relevant for us right now, but also what motivates us to be active.

There are different types of motives:

  • internal (self-satisfaction) and external (praise from other people);
  • sustainable (related to the individual’s worldview, values, needs) and unstable (related to the environment);
  • positive (based on positive feelings and emotions) and negative (based on negative feelings and emotions).

Sometimes motives conflict with each other. This complicates goal setting, but at the same time it helps resolve the conflict of motives. In the process of developing a plan and setting priorities, the individual understands that what is more important for him is which motive is worth keeping.

Separately, it is worth specifying the requirements for goals in goal setting:

  • concreteness;
  • measurability;
  • reality;
  • reachability;
  • flexibility;
  • verifiability;
  • transparency;
  • unambiguity.

This also applies to the basics of the goal-setting system.

Examples of goals set correctly

And in conclusion, I want to give examples of successful goals from different functional areas:

  • Increase the client base in December 2021 by 2 times compared to December 2021 by creating a business development department from 04/01/2019
  • Eliminate the accrual of fines for late provision of documents.
  • Ensure net profit at the end of 2021 in the amount of XXXX million rubles in accordance with the financial statements.
  • Develop and approve the company’s brand book in accordance with the corporate standard by September 1, 2019.
  • Ensure the staff turnover rate in 2021 is no more than 12%.
  • Ensure that the average period for judicial arbitration consideration of large claims brought against a company is at least 5 months from the date of commencement of the trial until the decision enters into legal force.

To automate management by goals, software systems are used that allow you to create communication between performers within the project, formalize the setting of goals and the execution of business processes, as well as accumulate statistics and generate reporting in real time. For example, the implementation of the Bitrix24 CRM system allows you to solve the described problems of automating processes related to customer service and the work of the sales department.

Goal setting methods

Some people (especially those who are hearing about goal setting for the first time) don’t know where to start. In fact, everything is simple: psychology has already invented universal methods of goal setting. All that's left is to use them.

So, let's look at popular goal setting methods:

  1. SMART. This is an abbreviation of the English names of five elements: specificity, measurability, achievability, relevance, time limitation. That is, you determine what you want to achieve and over what period, how you will measure the result and how you will achieve the goal. And you also analyze how this goal relates to your true desires and needs at the present moment.
  2. Brian Tracy method. Write 10 goals for the year. But formulate your sentences as if you have already achieved these goals. Feel each of them and choose one that will truly change your life. Write it on another sheet of paper and analyze only this goal using the SMART technique.
  3. Goal tree. Consistently, orderly and clearly on a piece of paper, draw up a “portrait” of your goal in the form of a tree. That is, first write down or schematically define the main goal, then write down the tasks of the second level from it, from them - the third, fourth, etc. At the same time, you immediately assign the resources necessary to achieve each goal and subtask.
  4. Method of G. Arkhangelsky. This technique helps in planning when the conditions for achieving a goal change periodically. That is, the method helps to adapt to changed external conditions and, no matter what, to reach the goal. The process of goal setting using Arkhangelsky’s technique involves determining the limits beyond which you will not go to achieve your goals. These are the areas, values, priorities with which the goal interacts. You need to formulate your goal so that it does not conflict with your life values ​​and beliefs. After this, break the goal not into subtasks, as in the SMART technique, but into levels of difficulty. In addition, define soft and hard objectives. The first can be completed within a certain period of time, and the second - by a strictly designated time. And, of course, determine the period for realizing the main goal.
  5. Balance wheel. Draw a circle and randomly divide it into sectors with lines. One sector – one area of ​​your life. Determine for yourself how many there will be, what kind of spheres they are. Rate your achievements in each area on a 10-point scale. Connect all the marks with lines and paint over the resulting shape. A free field in each area is an area for your growth and goal setting.
  6. Mind maps. On a piece of paper you draw up a diagram or drawing where you define the main goal, and on its basis you fix the goals of the second, third and subsequent levels. Continue dividing into levels until you reach tasks that can be done right now.

Types of goals

Goal setting in top management is a procedure for selecting a result with the parameters of possible discrepancies to achieve the main idea. Also understood as understanding an activity from a practical point of view. Formation of possible results and tasks to achieve them by choosing the simplest and fastest means, taking into account available resources.


  • External - take into account the state of society and the environment in which the enterprise operates and internal goals. Thanks to them, the organization meets its needs.
  • Simple and complex.
  • Strategic and tactical.
  • Short term, medium term, long term.
  • Production and marketing, administrative and so on.

Management textbooks present an extensive classification, but for management it is enough to know only some of the goals. So, if it is necessary to solve a large-scale problem that affects the organization as a whole, then setting strategic goals is used, and if it is necessary to describe the achievement of the desired result separately in stages, then tactical ones.

More often, organizations in their business plans determine medium- and short-term results, and long-term results are goal-setting for 5 or more years. In the current unstable economic situation, it is very difficult to make a forecast even for one year, not to mention longer periods, so less urgent results are prescribed.

Important! Planning personal and work time and goal setting are management functions. It is necessary for the organization to clearly understand where and why it is moving. In addition, setting goals to achieve the basic ideas of planning involves goal setting.

Goal setting presupposes that each participant in the organization has certain rights and obligations, and an area of ​​responsibility. It is this understanding that allows us to approach target planning comprehensively, which allows us to develop entire programs aimed at achieving certain results. This is a simplified scheme of work, indicating the main results, which must be conveyed to specialists. Spelling planning tasks helps you get your work done more clearly.

Effective planning

Stages of goal setting

Let's look at the stages and rules, or the universal process of goal setting:

  1. Determination of needs and motives. Find out what is valuable and meaningful to you, what gives you the strength to confidently move forward. Set yourself one specific goal.
  2. Selection of goal setting techniques. You can try all the techniques discussed and adopt the one or those that suit you best.
  3. The transition to drawing up a step-by-step plan for achieving the goal and its implementation.

Remember to always leave room for maneuver. Be prepared to make adjustments to the plan, keep several auxiliary tools in stock, allocate a little more time, effort and finances to realize the goal. Then no failures, difficulties, or unforeseen circumstances will unsettle you.

Common mistakes in goal setting

When turning to goal setting, do not make other people’s mistakes (goal setting problems):

  1. There is a lack of specifics. Either the deadlines have not been determined, or the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of measuring the result have not been established.
  2. Unrealistic goals. For example, if a person sets a goal to lose 10 kg in a week, then most likely he will fail, and with it disappointment in himself and life in general. But losing 10 kg in two months is quite possible. Set realistic goals, do not create obviously losing conditions for yourself.
  3. Priorities are not set. By grasping at everything at once, a person, as a rule, achieves nothing. The same applies to cases when a non-urgent and unimportant goal is mistakenly mistaken for an urgent and important one. Use the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize.
  4. No work plan. Taking an hour to develop a plan now will save you hours in the future. According to the plan, work proceeds faster and more efficiently.
  5. There is no control and analysis. Identification and elimination of errors, correction of the plan due to changed conditions increase the efficiency of the entire process.

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My goal setting experience

In my life I use a universal goal-setting algorithm:

  1. Selection of main goals.
  2. Determining the resources needed to achieve them. This includes my knowledge, abilities, skills, capabilities. At the same stage, I develop a plan to obtain some tools, if I don’t have them yet, but potentially I can acquire them.
  3. Search for motivation, development of a system of rewards and punishments. Keeping a diary helps me (you can just make short notes about what has already been done). It’s convenient to go back, see how much has been covered, and be inspired by it.
  4. Identification of specific problems and subtasks. These are steps towards achieving your goal.
  5. Presentation of the result. This can also be used as motivation. Imagine how your life will change, what you will gain when you achieve your goal. If your transformation can somehow be visualized on paper, then do it. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 kg, then you can edit your photo in Photoshop and print it. Or if you want to go back to your previous weight, you can keep an old photo of yourself visible.
  6. Implementation of plans. This is the main and longest stage, where motivation and self-control will help.

In my life I am guided by this plan. For example, it helped me lose weight. Then an example of a goal setting algorithm looked like this:

  • first I determined how much and over what period of time I wanted to lose weight;
  • then I decided on a correction plan (physical activity and proper nutrition);
  • divided these elements into even smaller tasks (for example, what kind of activity, how many times a week);
  • identified control tools - in my case it was not so much the number on the scales, but the volumes and subjective perception of my reflection in the mirror, although the number on the scales was in my mind (no goals are set without specifics);
  • etc.

The effectiveness of goal setting depends on how much you are willing to control the process, admit mistakes and work on them, and adjust the strategy depending on changing conditions.

Test your knowledge

If you want to test your knowledge on the topic of this lesson, you can take a short test consisting of several questions. For each question, only 1 option can be correct. After you select one of the options, the system automatically moves on to the next question. The points you receive are affected by the correctness of your answers and the time spent on completion. Please note that the questions are different each time and the options are mixed.

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