How Setting Goals Can Improve Your Work Performance

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Categories: Career & Development, Organisations & Culture
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
How Setting Goals Can Improve Your Work Performance

The process of setting targets for accomplishment, also known as goal setting, is an important step in both our work and personal lives. Often overlooked by many, goal setting provides a number of benefits to the working professional. They can also be useful at an organisational level in areas such as quotas, objectives, deadlines and budgets. Taking the time to set goals can greatly improve your working performance – read below to find out how.

Ability to focus on priorities

Setting clear and concise goals with your work gives you the ability to focus on your priorities. Goals that are properly thought out which reflect your intentions and desires will allow you to prioritise a lot easier. After writing your goals, you must go through and put them in order of priority – this allows tasks to be completed in a logical order. Prioritising your goals also encourages forward planning and a focus on thinking ahead in your work. With this focus will also come less stress as you are better prepared and clear on what work you need to complete and by when.

Guides decision making

By having concrete goals in place they serve as a guide in the decision making process. Being aware of what you are trying to achieve allows you to evaluate each minor activity that you perform by asking yourself ‘will this activity get me closer to achieving my goal?’ This can also be applied at an organisational level whereby future direction is provided to your business. This can help you guide both yourself and your employees in a whole range of decision making processes. Goals are also useful in decision making when challenges are faced throughout a project. They allow you to reflect on the outcomes that you want to achieve and then refocus your decisions in order to achieve those outcomes.

Responsibility for own actions

Documented and defined goals mean that you are directly responsible for the success or failure for that particular achievement. Being responsible for your actions is very important in business because with responsibility comes self-efficacy. Positive experiences in goal orientated environments allow you to learn more about yourself and the boundaries of your abilities. If you succeed in achieving all of your goals, you can feel confident that your work has contributed to larger organisational objectives. On the other hand, if you fail in achieving your goals you are also responsible for that. It is important to remember that very few of us reach our goals without some challenges along the way – failure is not necessarily a terrible outcome. Failures should therefore not be ignored; they should be used as an opportunity to learn.

Helps in using time effectively

If time is a precious resource of yours, goal setting is essential. It is often very difficult to effectively manage your time without clear goals and objectives in place. By having goals, you then prioritise them and work towards achieving the most important tasks first. Goals also help to prevent you from working on tasks which are irrelevant to your project outcomes. As Peter Drucker ( says ‘if you want to improve how you manage time – stop doing what doesn’t need to be done’. In the fast-paced business environment that exists today, any time saving tool is one which should not be overlooked. Plan out your goals and ensure that every minute counts.

Ability to measure and evaluate

When goals are set, outcomes are expected to be achieved therefore at the end of a project these outcomes can be evaluated. Measuring and evaluating your outcomes allows for analysis on what was effective and what could be done better. Rarely does a project run smoothly and successfully from start to finish, so by evaluating the results we can learn what can be done better next time. Evaluation also allows for forward planning so that mistakes can be avoided and goals can be adjusted accordingly.

Learn from the best

In a study conducted by Thomas C. Cortey on the habits of wealthy people versus poor people, there were a number of findings which indicate that goal setting contributes greatly to your success. The study found that 67% of wealthy people write down their goals in comparison to only 17% of poor people. In addition, 80% of the wealthy focus on achieving a specific goal compared to 12% of the poor. This pattern suggests that if you take the time to write down your goals, you will be more prepared and organised to succeed in your career.

What do you think?

Are you someone who already writes goals and prioritises your tasks? I’d love to hear how it works for you and how you started writing down your goals in the first place. Alternatively, are you someone who hasn’t previously set goals? Please feel free to share your experiences below.

This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: The Happy Manager; Small BusinessReference for Business; and Harvard Business Review.


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