"Goal Catcher" - Coaching Program
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Inspire yourself and others to see and achieve grand visions and goals. A focus on goals is especially helpful for inspirational leaders, starting your own business, impactful communication, or for achieving awesome outcomes at work and in life.
What is goal setting?
Want to become a better leader? Here’s where you start. Inspire and motivate yourself and others to see and achieve grand visions and goals. This program will make you more goal-oriented – especially helpful for inspirational leaders, starting your own business or making changes in your current company.
Personal goals are key to self-improvement, but where should you start?
When it comes to personal goals and goal setting, there’s no shortage of self-help books and articles out there. Wading through the (mis)information can be exhausting.
Below, we’ll go over scientific studies, evidence-based advice and examples of personal goals that are worthy of your focus.
Let’s dive in!
5 fascinating facts about personal goals
- Simply having a goal boosts focus and task completion speed.  Researchers found that merely having a goal (particularly one without punishments or monetary rewards) can increase your focus and the speed with which you complete a task.
- People with specific and challenging goals outperform those with easy goals, “do your best” goals or no goals at all.  In a review of laboratory and field studies on goal-setting and performance, in 90% of the studies, setting goals positively affected task performance, especially if those goals were specific and challenging.
- Having a backup plan may hinder your ability to achieve a goal.  A series of experiments showed that when someone comes up with a backup plan, they may exert less effort toward their goal and lower their chances of reaching it.
- People whose goals focus on self-improvement, rather than outperforming others, are more open and cooperative.  Both in laboratory and real-world office settings, researchers found that people with performance goals were more “deceitful,” while those with mastery goals were more “open” and “cooperative.” People with a performance goal are focused on competing with others, while those with mastery goals are focused on personal improvement.
- Setting attainable goals can lead to long-term well-being.  In a study of over 970 adults aged 18 to 92, researchers tried to see which aspect of personal goals had the most influence on later well-being: importance or attainability?
After surveying participants over the course of four years, researchers determined that seeing personal goals as attainable was a better indicator of long-term well-being than the importance of those goals.
4 tips for goal-setting success
1. Challenge yourself, but don’t overwhelm yourself.
Seminal goal-setting research by American psychologist Edwin Locke found that people are most motivated by goals that are challenging but still attainable.
When setting personal goals, aim for something that feels uncomfortable for you (growth involves leaving your comfort zone!), but be realistic about it, too. If you choose a goal that’s too safe, you won’t feel motivated to achieve it. But if you choose one that you don’t actually believe you can attain, you’ll feel discouraged from the start.
2. Be specific.
Locke’s research also found that specific goals are more likely to be achieved than vague ones. So, for instance, if your goal is to “read more,” a better way of phrasing that would be “read one book every month.”
3. Have someone hold you accountable.
In a Northwestern Medicine study, dieters who engaged more with others in online weight-loss communities lost more weight. They lost 8% of their body weight over the course of six months compared to those who didn’t engage much online and lost 5 percent of their body weight in the same amount of time. Engagement included recording weigh-ins, sending friend requests and communicating online
As Luís A. Nunes Amaral, senior author of the study, told Northwestern University: “If you communicate online with other people you are even more engaged, and when you need support you might be able to get it.”
Having someone check in with you regularly as you progress toward your goal can do wonders. Try finding someone who has a goal similar to yours. This can be a friend, someone in a club you’ve joined or even someone you find online.
4. Celebrate the little milestones.
No matter how much you want to reach your objective, it’s nearly impossible to stay motivated without seeing some progress along the way—especially if the completion of your goal is months or even years away.
To keep yourself motivated, celebrate your small victories. Let’s say you want to run a marathon, and you expect the training to take you eight months. As you build up your endurance to be able to safely run 26.2 miles, reward yourself for running one mile, then two miles, then three miles and so forth. You might even sign up to run a 5K, 10K or half marathon during those eight months leading up to the big race. Every time you take one more step toward your goal, celebrate your progress!
Fixed mindset vs. growth mindset: Which is best for personal goals?
Developed by American psychologist and Stanford professor Carol Dweck, the theory around a fixed versus growth mindset is something that has penetrated the professional sphere—with good reason. Dweck and three colleagues teamed up with consulting firm Senn Delaney to survey employees at seven Fortune 1000 companies to determine the differences between fixed-mindset versus growth-mindset cultures. They found that employees in growth mindset companies were:
- “47% likelier to say that their colleagues are trustworthy”
- “34% likelier to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the company”
- “49% likelier to say that the company fosters innovation”
Someone with a fixed mindset believes their abilities are set in stone; either they’re born with an ability, or they’re not. So when they fail at something or don’t do as well as planned, they have little motivation to keep trying because they believe there is nothing they can do about a skill they didn’t naturally inherit.
On the flip side, someone with a growth mindset believes they can continue to learn and grow. Rather than feeling limited or discouraged by failure or low performance, they believe they can improve with effort.
Guess which one is best for setting and achieving personal goals? Yep, a growth mindset!
In a Stanford+Connects lecture, Dweck described a study of 10-year-olds where she found that some had a growth mindset and some had a fixed mindset. When given a problem that was slightly too difficult for their level, children with a growth mindset said things like, “I love a challenge.” But those with a fixed mindset saw the problem as “tragic, catastrophic,” as Dweck puts it.
Further, in another study, children with a fixed mindset said that, if they failed a test, they’d probably cheat next time instead of studying harder. “And in study after study,” Dweck said, “they have run from difficulty.”
If you believe you can’t get better (fixed mindset), you probably won’t even try. But if you believe you can improve with effort, you’ll be motivated to change.
Growth mindset and Goal Oriented motivation
The more than 20 years of research we’ve conducted at F4S aligns well with Dweck’s findings. When it comes to moving toward goals, we’ve found that people lean toward one of two motivations: Problem-Solving and Goal-Oriented.
Someone with a high motivation for Problem-Solving is always surveying the landscape ahead for obstacles and doing what they can to avoid them. This can be useful, especially in crisis situations where you just need to survive.
Someone with a high motivation for Goals is most motivated by keeping their eyes on a vision, mission or target.
Our research found that Problem-Solving is positively correlated with high levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Ideally, you’ll find your own unique balance of both Problem-Solving and Goal-Oriented, as both come in handy in different situations.
What are some good personal goals to set?
Become a better listener.
We value people who give us their full attention while we’re talking. Yet, many of us overestimate how good of a listener we are. A 2014 survey by Accenture found that 96% of professionals think they’re good listeners, even though 98% of those surveyed admitted to multi-tasking at work (how well can someone really listen while they’re doing something else?).
If you want to be fully present and make your loved ones feel validated, work on becoming a better listener. This goes beyond just hearing what someone is saying. Effective listening means giving someone your undivided attention (that means putting your phone away), using empathy to see from their point of view and asking follow-up questions so they know you were listening.
Improve your emotional intelligence.
Being emotionally intelligent means you can identify what you and others are feeling and respond appropriately. This has benefits in both your personal and professional life. Emotional intelligence is a key component of conflict resolution and is linked to success.
Deepen your relationships.
Many of us are so focused on meeting new people that we fail to appreciate the ones we already have in our life. One of the best personal goals is to deepen your existing relationships, whether with friends, a romantic partner or your parents.
Focus on your mental health.
Because of the isolation and stress introduced by the pandemic, many people are reporting declining mental health. Unmanaged stress can lead to burnout—and no one wants that! That’s why, more than ever, it’s crucial to make sure your mind and emotions are in a good place.
How can you improve your emotional well-being? Some ideas:
- Practicing mindfulness
- Reducing stressors
- Doing more of what helps you feel relaxed and energized
The benefits of exercise are well-documented in scientific literature. For example, one 2018 study published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal found that people who exercise have 1.5 fewer poor mental health days a month than those who do not exercise. So just how often should someone exercise? In the study, working out three to five times a week for 45 minutes provided the most benefits.
But there’s no need to feel intimidated. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder or even join a gym to see the benefits of exercise. All it takes is moving more than you normally do. You could walk around your neighborhood, follow along to YouTube workout videos or even have an impromptu dance session in your living room.
A 2019 study published in the International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology found that subjects who completed a gratitude exercise reported more resilience than those who didn’t.
Some gratitude-generating practices:
- Write a thank-you letter to someone you appreciate.
- List three good things that happened today.
- Try saying “thank you” more often, or, when someone thanks you, resist the urge to say “no problem” and say “you’re welcome” instead.
Get better sleep.
Imagine how much more calm employees would feel if they were well-rested. The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least seven hours of sleep each night for people 18 years old and above, yet a 2016 CDC study found that about one in three American adults don’t get enough sleep regularly.