When it comes to setting and achieving goals, the popular SMART model is one tool which many have found to be powerful and helpful. However, there’s another element which is more important when it comes to setting our goals.
Find Out Why
We’ve all heard of instances of where somebody achieves their goal, but it fails to deliver the expected elation. Perhaps you’ve experienced that feeling yourself. This is why it’s important to know WHY we are striving for a particular goal. Psychologists Ken Sheldon and Tim Kasser have conducted research on goal setting and found “striving for authentic, self-concordant reasons yields greater goal attainment and enhanced wellbeing. We also know that wellbeing and relationship quality are better when people orient toward intrinsic values such as intimacy, community, and growth”.
So, What’s Your Motivation?
Even if you’ve managed to identify and set goals for yourself which are self-concordant, there’s still no guarantee that you will have the motivation to see your goals through to completion.
The Self-Determination Theory (SDT), developed by researchers’ Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, is a theory which explores the motivation behind choices people make without external influence. According to SDT, when setting and pursuing our goals, if we satisfy the three basic psychological needs listed below, it will allow us to not only remain motivated to see our goal through to completion but also experience growth and wellbeing:
Competence / Mastery – Does this goal allows you to use your skills? While the goal should push your comforts and skill levels, it’s important you experience a certain level of mastery. Recognize what stage you are at right now. For example, don’t attempt to play Beethoven if you’re just starting to learn scales. Appreciate where you’re currently at and let your competencies develop over time.
Relatedness – It’s important to feel connected to others, and that there is a desire to interact and care for others.
Autonomy – We need to experience a sense of free will when pursuing our goal and that our goal is derived from of our personal interests and values.
Setting goals which are in line with your values, and that promote growth and togetherness are more likely to give us the motivation to stick to and complete our goals, and also provide us with the satisfaction and sense of achievement that we’re looking for.
Think about some of your current goals and ask yourself if they contain elements of intimacy, connection, and opportunities for growth. If the answer is no, think how you can incorporate them into your goals.