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December 26, 2011 / compassioninpolitics

Science of goal setting

In “Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goals Setting and Task Motivation”1, Gary Latham from the University of Toronto and Edwin Locke from the University of Maryland summarize a 35 year study of empirical research on goal setting theory. Much of their research has been focused on goal setting in business in hopes of finding out what works and what doesn’t.Here is what they found:
The highest level of success was with moderate to difficult goals The most difficult goals produced the most effort, but did not equate to highest level of attainment Self Efficacy was critical in goal attainment (Believing they could achieve it) Feedback on progress was critical to success (How am I doing) The more specific the goal – the higher level of achievement The level of importance of the goal effected the outcome
What this means to us, is that based on this historical data, goal attainment has several key components that can be clearly defined and used to form a process that will increase our chances of achieving our goals.

Locke, Edwin A., & Latham, Gary P. (2002) Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation. In The American Psychologist Vol. 57, No.9, 705-717

(Link in PDF)

This is the original article on goal setting. Lathams research on motivation and business can be found here.



Leave a Comment
  1. Harry / Dec 27 2011 9:31 pm

    Great advice on goal setting.

    You may want to check out, a very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and supports time tracking too. It’s clear, focused, easy to navigate, worth a try.


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