How To Reach Your Goals

Social psychologist, Heidi Grant Halvorson, wrote Succeed to help you understand how goals work, what tends to go wrong, and what you can do to reach your goals or to help others reach theirs.

Because many of us struggle each year to fulfill our New Year's Resolutions (goals), Halvorson's book, packed with the findings from her own research, along with the most useful tips from academic journals and handbooks, is a worthwhile read.

In her 260-page book, Halvorson covers:

•  How to set a goal that you will pursue even in the face of adversity.
•  How to avoid the kind of positive thinking that makes people fail.
•  How to create an environment that will help you win.

"Setting goals is important," said Halvorson, "But that's not the whole story. Because how you set your goals--the way you think about whatever it is you want to do, and how you will get there--is every bit as important."

Halvorson recommends:
•  Making your goal as specific as possible.
•  Making your goal difficult, while still being realistic.
•  Being sure you don't underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal.
•  Making sure you think about both the wonderful things that will happen if you succeed and the obstacles that stand in your way.
•  Filling your environment with reminders and triggers that will keep your unconscious mind working toward your goal, even when your conscious mind is distracted by other things.
•  Remembering why the goal is important to you. Also, choosing prevention goals, focusing on what you could lose if you fail.

She also said that, "One of the most important things you can do to reach any difficult goal is know when to ask for and accept help."

And, if you are a team leader or business leader and you have the task of trying to get other people to adopt the goals assigned to them, Halvorson suggests you:

•  Try giving your employee or team member a sense of personal control. It helps when people can choose from several options--even a choice between two goals is still a choice.
•  Keep in mind that people are motivated to achieve a goal only when they feel it has value and when the value is clear. So, have your employees participate in decision making and goal setting.
•  Ask employees to commit publicly to reaching a goal. That will increase their motivation.

Halvorson stresses that it's vitally important that employees understand the rationale behind goals given to them by their leaders. They need to know how to answer:

• Why is the goal worth pursing?
• How will I benefit from it?

"Remember that people are motivated to achieve a goal only when they feel it has value. When the value is clear, you'll have fewer problems getting people on board and fully committed to succeed," explained Halvorson.

Perhaps most important, Succeed, drives home the fact that persistence is key when working to reach a goal.

• Persistence comes more easily when a person believes more in effort and the effort to get better, rather than believing in ability.


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