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Industrial & Organisational : Introduction : Personnel : Organizational psychology : Occupations: Work environment: Index : Outline

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A goal or objective consists of a projected state of affairs which a person or a system plans or intends to achieve or bring about — a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development. Many people endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines.

A desire or an intention becomes a goal if and only if[How to reference and link to summary or text] one activates an action for achieving it (see goal-oriented).

It is roughly similar to purpose or aim, the anticipated result which guides action, or an end, which is an object, either a physical object or an abstract object, that has intrinsic value.

Goal and types of goals

Main article: Goal setting

Goal-setting ideally involves establishing specific, measurable and time-targeted objectives. Work on the theory of goal-setting suggests that it can serve as an effective tool for making progress by ensuring that participants have a clear awareness of what they must do to achieve or help achieve an objective. On a personal level, the process of setting goals allows people to specify and then work towards their own objectives — most commonly (financial or career-based goals.) Goal-setting comprises a major component of Personal development. In order to achieve a goal, usually, one must be focused. When you achieve your goal it is immensely pleasurable.

To be most effective goals should be tangible, specific, realistic and have a time targeted for completion. There must be realistic plans to achieve the intended goal. For example, setting a goal to go to Mars on a shoe string budget is not a realistic goal while setting a goal to go to Hawaii as a backpacker is a possible goal with possible, realistic plans.

One drawback of goal setting is that implicit learning may be impended. This is because goal setting may encourage simple focus on an outcome without openness to exploration, understanding or growth. "Goals provide a sense of direction and purpose" (Goldstein, 1993, p.96). Locke et al. (1981) examined the behavioral effects of goal-setting, concluding that 90% of laboratory and field studies involving specific and challenging goals led to higher performance than easy or no goals.

Goal setting in clinical settings

Goal setting in educational settings

Short-term goals

Short-term goals expect accomplishment in a short period of time, such as trying to get a bill paid in the next few days. The definition of a short-term goal need not relate to any specific length of time. In other words, one may achieve (or fail to achieve) a short-term goal in a day, week, month, year, etc. The time-frame for a short-term goal relates to its context in the overall time line that it is being applied to. For instance, one could measure a short-term goal for a month-long project in days; whereas one might measure a short-term goal for someone’s in months or in years. Planners usually define short-term goals in relation to a long-term goal or goals.

Project goals

  • Specific: one should precisely define objectives or goals rather than tolerating diffuseness or nebulousness
  • Measurable: one should define a method of measuring the objectives/goals
  • Agreed-To/Achievable: all parties need to agree to the objectives/goals, and to their achievability
  • Realistic/Rewarding/Relevant: one must define realistic objectives/goals, the accomplishment of which must make sense
  • Time-bound: completion must occur within an agreed time-scale

Personal goals

Individuals can have personal goals. A student may set a goal of a high mark in an exam. An athlete might walk five miles a day. A traveler might try to reach a destination-city within three hours.

Managing goals can give returns in all areas of personal life. Knowing precisely what one wants to achieve makes clear what to concentrate and improve on.

Goal setting and planning ("goalwork") promotes long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses acquisition of knowledge and helps to organize resources.

Efficient goalwork includes recognizing and resolving any guilt, inner conflict or limiting belief that might cause one to sabotage one's efforts. By setting clearly-defined goals, one can subsequently measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals. One can see progress in what might have seemed a long grind.

Achieving personal goals

Achieving complex and difficult goals requires : focus, long-term diligence and effort. Success in any field will require foregoing excuses and justifications for poor performance or lack of adequate planning; in short, success requires emotional maturity. The measure of belief that people in their ability to achieve a personal goal also affects that achievement.

Long term achievements rely on short-term achievements.Emotional control over the small moments of the single day makes a big difference in the long term.

By accepting a degree of realism within one's own goals, one allows oneself not to change reality to match one's own dreams by one's own efforts alone, but to accept how it is until a certain degree. This degree of "laziness" can prevent one from falling into unhappiness by losing too much control of life by trying to specialize in a very small area and to become a top leader in that field.No matter what level of a layerered society one may identify with, it is very likely that one will keep the above and below scheme.

One formula for achievement reads A=IM[How to reference and link to summary or text] where A = achievement, I = intelligence, and M = motivation. When motivation equals zero, achievement will always equal zero, no matter the degree of intelligence. Similarly for intelligence: if intelligence equals zero, achievement will always equal zero. The higher the combination of both intelligence and the motivation, the higher the achievement.

Goal-management in organizations

Organizationally, goal management consists of the process of recognizing or inferring goals of individual team-members, abandoning no longer relevant goals, identifying and resolving conflicts among goals, and prioritizing goals consistently for optimal team-collaboration and effective operations.

For any successful commercial system, it means deriving profits by making the best quality of goods or the best quality of services available to the end-user (customer) at the best possible cost. Goal-management includes:

  • assessment and dissolution of non-rational blocks to success
  • time-management
  • frequent reconsideration (consistency checks)
  • feasibility checks
  • adjusting milestones and main-goal targets

Morten Lind and J.Rasmussen[How to reference and link to summary or text] distinguish three fundamental categories of goals related to technological system management:

  1. production goal
  2. safety goal
  3. economy goal

An organizational goal-management solution ensures that individual employee goals and objectives align with the vision and strategic goals of the entire organization. Goal-management provides organizations with a mechanism to effectively communicate corporate goals and strategic objectives to each person across the entire organization. The key consists of having it all emanate from a pivotal source[How to reference and link to summary or text] and providing each person with a clear, consistent organizational-goal message. With goal-management, every employee will understand how his or her efforts contribute to the success of an enterprise.

An example of goal types in business management:

  • consumer goals: this refers to supplying a product or service that the market/consumer wants
  • product goals: this refers to supplying a product outstanding compared to other products[How to reference and link to summary or text] — perhaps due to the likes of quality, design, reliability and novelty
  • operational goals: this refers to running the organization in such a way as to make the best use of management-skills[How to reference and link to summary or text], technology and resources.
  • secondary goals: this refers to goals which an organization does not regard as priorities


  • Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeff Cox. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement. ISBN 0-88427-061-0

See also

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