Is Goal Setting useful All the Time?

Who has  not heard of Goal Setting particularly the SMART ( Specific, Measurable, Attainable , Realistic and Time Bound) Many of us might have attended training programs on Goal setting , but then in spite of all the hype and the hoopla why does it become a such a stressor?  In spite of all the SMART goals,  why do 95% people give up on the new year resolutions? I have even heard some executives saying that the only resolution they make is not to have a resolution.

The positive side of goal setting is it gives you a sense of direction. But what is the flip side? The Yale study of Goals is cited by Brian Tracey and also renowned magazines like Psychological Foundations of success. The 1953 batch of graduates were asked about their goals for the future. Only 3% of the graduates had a clear set of well-written goals.It was like getting a specific salary, a designation, a big villa etc. 

It seems 10 years down the line the researchers observed that 3% who had a clear focus had  amassed more wealth than the 97% who had no clear goals. This study was often cited by management gurus like Brian Tracey, Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins on which they make millions of dollars with their motivational seminars. The self-help industry has been thriving on Goal Setting for so many years.

A journalist from Fast Company, a technology magazine tried to trace the origins of the Yale Study of Goals and he realized no academic journal was ever cited for the Yale Study. When the motivational gurus were approached,  Brian Tracey pointed out fingers to Zig Ziglar who in turn pointed to Tony Robbins who again referred to Brian Tracey. ( ref: If Your Goal Is a success Don’t Consult These Gurus: fast Company 18 December 2007)

Oliver Burkeman in his book The Antidote – happiness for People who Don’t Stand Positive Thinking called on Beverley Waters the archivist at the Yale school who said that such study was never carried out.

Goal Setting as a concept was introduced by Gary Latham & Edwin A Locke who between them have written 20 books on the motivational aspects of life.

One of side-effects of Goal setting, particularly in corporate settings is managers tend to lie about their achievements. I remember while working for my previous company, my Divisional Manager whose initials were PR said during the annual Sales Conference: In the next five years we are going to be a Rs 100 core company. We had barely touched Rs 2 crores in 1987 then. Within 6 months PR had put in his papers and moved to greener pastures.

Two years later another Sr.Manager called NV made inflated invoicing  where the goods were shipped from the Mysore factory but were never despatched to the dealers. But the order booking was shown so as to meet the targets. He barely escaped getting sacked. ( Company A).

Another person, a Sr. manager  AGI used to narrate how on 31st March vendors used to supply empty boxes ( in place of Complete instruments) to the customers carry out the invoicing then recall the boxes for repairs and then supply the products. ( Company B)

Both the companies have closed down their operations by 1995. Most of them attended seminars on Goal Setting particularly the SMART ones.

4 thoughts on “Is Goal Setting useful All the Time?

  1. Shanna Carson

    It’s true that goals need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable , Realistic and Time Bound).

    There is also a little technique you can use, if you have the courage that will almost guarantee the achievement of big goals and dreams. It is based on the idea of “social pressure”.

    Think about this; let’s say you have a goal to lose a certain amount of weight or achieve some desired level of fitness. You can set the goal privately and tell yourself, “I am going to achieve this goal by August 1.” On the other hand, you can make the goal public by telling all of your friends and family what you intend to do and even give a date for your desired completion.

    As soon as you take that goal public, you move into a different state of mind. No longer are you at the mercy of your own self-discipline (which has been tarnished by years of bad habits). Now you have a much more powerful force dictating your day to day actions and decisions.

    Reply
    1. rajanparulekar Post author

      Thanks for your comments. By making the goals public there is a greater commitment vis-a-vis a private
      goal.
      The powerful force thus created can bridge the gap between knowing and doing.
      A personal success story against odds can also be inspiring.
      Which goal have you accomplished recently?

      Reply
      1. Shanna Carson

        I wouldn’t say it’s a success story against all odds, but I’m no going to the gym every except on week-ends. It really helped to announce it at the New Year party, so I would have looked really pathetic if I didn’t keep my commitment, because my brother is working at the gym lol…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s