The Effects of Goal Setting

By Kristie J Jernigan

Goal-setting theory was developed during a 25-year period within the industrial and organizational psychology community, according to an article in Current Direction in Psychological Science by Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham. The effects of goal setting can be profound whether you are using goals to achieve a work, sports or school goal. Goal-setting can have profound effects on how we feel about ourselves and the work that we do.


Goal-setting can have a motivating effect. The more ambitious the goal, the more motivation you will experience. Higher goals require you to attain more in order to achieve satisfaction. According to the website Mind Tools, setting goals can give you a way of visualizing your long-term goals and also give you short-term motivation. Mind Tools recommends setting lifetime goals and putting them on a five-year plan. Then set smaller goals to achieve within six months to a year. In addition, Mind Tools recommends writing down a to-do list to help you keep these goals in view and to keep yourself motivated. Review the list periodically and update it if needed.


Achievement can be a very satisfying effect of goal setting. According to an article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Andrew J. Elliot and Judith M. Harackiewicz, goals can represent a concrete standard that helps us to perform positively. Achievement itself can be intoxicatingly motivating and can cause us to want to work toward even more goals and sometimes much harder goals. Setting goals and taking it one step at a time can help you achieve extremely difficult tasks that you once thought were unattainable. Mind Tools recommends using the “SMART” mneumonic to set your goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. This trick helps you make achieving your goals much easier.


One of the effects of goal setting is the positive influence it can have on your self-esteem. Setting a goal and working toward that goal can help you improve your self-esteem. However, setting too high a goal and not being able to achieve that goal can have an adverse effect and cause a loss of self-esteem. It is important to set realistic goals that can be achieved in steps. To set an attainable goal, Mind Tools reports that you need to first have a good understanding of what your qualities, skills and abilities are. Mind Tools recommends setting performance goals instead of outcome goals. Performance goals are much easier for you to control, whereas outcome goals can be lost because of elements that we cannot control such as other people’s actions.


One Response to “The Effects of Goal Setting”
  1. Yes! Finally something about motivational goal setting.

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