• BLOG | The Scientific Benefits of Goal Setting

    November 13, 2018 | Andrew Stead
  • As Lao Tzu famously claimed: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’

    A great place to start any element of change is by clearly setting objectives. Prioritising our well-being and keeping on top of our stress levels are essential to any goal setting process.

    Goals and objectives provide a sense of meaning and purpose. They point us in the direction we want to go and keep us on track. It’s a very strong, grounding exercise simply to ask:

    ‘where do I want to be in one month, one year, ten years? What are the steps I can take to make my dreams reality?’ 


    The Evidence

    There is an entire literature around the benefits of setting goals, heavily supported by empirical evidence:

    First, in the workplace it has been proven that setting goals clearly drives performance improvements (Latham & Locke, 2006) and that companies setting more challenging goals are more successful (Stein, 2000). In fact, Pritchard et al., 1988, demonstrated that effectively using goal setting within organisations typically increased growth between 10% and 25%.

    In my view, no credible organisation, large or small, can overlook the power of this super simple tool.

    Second, using goals can focus our attention and cut out some of the unnecessary “noise” that distracts our mind from achieving the real outcome. We feel a sense of achievement by completing milestones along the way and hitting our final target (Elliot & Harackiewicz, 1994).

    Third, objectives can build confidence and the belief of what we can do in the future, especially when we get appropriately rewarded (Latham, 2004).

    Fourth, setting goals gets us interested and engaged and can develop other well-being factors such as relationships and community (Brunstein, 1993).

    Fifth, goal setting can make us feel more positive, happier and less stressed when:

    • We are making progress towards a valued goal (Sheldon & Kasser, 1998)

    • Our goals are self-generated (Kasser & Ryan, 1996)

    • We pursue goals in line with our personal values (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999).


    The Scientific Benefits of Goal Setting - Unlocking the power of the unconscious

    However, to my mind, the most valuable element of goal setting is that it connects a conscious objective with our super powerful, unconscious ability to deliver. When we set a well-crafted goal that we believe in and are motivated by, our unconscious mind (which accounts for over 90% of our brain power) gets on to deliver it as quickly and effectively as possible. This is the real benefit of coaching, true to its origins. Removing the unconscious blocks and unlocking the power of the unconscious mind. And that’s why in many circumstances coaching can achieve results that are out of the ordinary. Because the vast power of the unconscious mind is exactly that!


    Put Knowledge into practice - Define Your Objectives!

  • So what are you waiting for? Set your goals and unlock the power of your unconscious to achieve what you want and deserve!