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What Does Goal Setting Mean?

author image Tracii Hanes
Based in Las Vegas, Tracii Hanes is a freelance writer specializing in health and psychology with over seven years of professional experience. She got her start as a news reporter and has since focused exclusively on freelance writing, contributing to websites like Wellsphere, Education Portal and more. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication arts from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
What Does Goal Setting Mean?
Business people are having a meeting. Photo Credit Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

Goal setting is a popular strategy for success in today's world. Between work, health, relationships and finance, life can become chaotic and disorganized. Fortunately, you don’t have to dive into life’s challenges blindly. By setting well-defined personal goals, it’s possible to increase your motivation and focus while improving your chances for success.


Goals are usually time-sensitive, focusing on either immediate or prolonged outcomes. Short-term goals cover short periods of time, such as days or weeks, while long-term goals span several months or years. Goal setting can be applied to any area of life, including business, finance, relationships, health and personal growth and development.


Goal setting is an individual process that takes many different forms. Writing or recording your goals is important for keeping factors like deadlines and steps in order. Goals that include a written plan of action are often most effective, as they help reduce the amount of thought and planning required over the long term. Elements that may be included in a goal-setting program include a time line, steps for reaching the goal and a space for charting your daily progress.


Goal setting helps create clarity and organization while acting as a road map toward your ultimate destination. According to the University of Baltimore, businesses with cooperative goals experienced lower levels of dysfunction than those without goals.

The benefits of goal setting aren’t confined to business and can be applied to many areas of life, such as health and fitness. The National Institutes of Health reports that goal setting by overweight adolescents may help promote healthy behavior changes like adherence to a diet and exercise regimen.


When formulated carelessly, goals may act as a deterrent from the desired result. Bloomberg Businessweek warns against setting business goals that are too challenging or specific, as this may result in discouragement and failure. Goals that are too narrow in focus increase the likelihood of unethical behavior, risk taking and other irresponsible acts, especially in a business setting.


When setting a goal, keep in mind that achieving personal goals requires patience and persistence. Consider how much of your success will depend on the cooperation of others and whether the time allotted for achieving goals is reasonable. In general, goals should be specific and measurable while allowing for adaptation and revision along the way.

Writing down your goals and placing them somewhere prominent—such as your office desk or bathroom mirror—serves as a frequent reminder of the desired outcome, which can help boost your motivation to succeed.

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