A New Year calls for many beginnings; a fresh start, a wealth of new opportunities, and the potential to transform your life for the better (well, for January at least!). As many of you will have experienced, our level of motivation and perseverance is probably at its peak in the early months of a new year, which means that we should really make the most of this time to set solid, attainable goals that will fill our lives with a sense of purpose, accomplishment and happiness for the year ahead.

Whether you are setting goals or objectives relative to your personal life, health and fitness, or job performance, most of us will struggle with where to begin. What do I want to achieve? Am I capable of achieving this? Will I actually work hard to achieve this? Undoubtedly we will have several goals that we would like to work on, so here is a helpful model to help you to break down and set clear objectives for 2015.

Problems with Goal Setting:

Many of you may question setting “Attainable” and “Realistic” goals – how can we possibly stretch ourselves if we just settle for mediocre goals that won’t help to expand and develop our skill sets? Surely one of our goals should be to aim high? This has recently been argued in an article by Forbes, who argued that SMART goals encourage poor performance. Read the article here.
But perhaps the real issue at hand here is not whether we set easy or hard goals, but how many self-efficacy we have. After all, if you believe that you will never be able to achieve something, then surely it is wise not to set this goal, thus making SMART goals a sensible tool to move ahead with. Bandura (1993) found that individual’s with low self efficacy have lower aspirations and weaker commitment to the goals that they set, whereas individuals with high self efficacy set themselves challenging goals and are strongly committed to achieving them; so let’s look at how this might influence the use of SMART.

SMART Goals and Self Efficacy:

Given the above evidence, we would assume that an individual’s with low self efficacy would be at the greatest risk of using SMART objectives, as their lack of personal belief will motivate them to set goals that will hinder their personal development. On the other hand, if an individual with high self efficacy uses SMART to set their goals and objectives, surely the goals they deem to be attainable will be challenging, but because they believe they are highly capable, they will feel confident in setting this goal and will work towards it.
Nevertheless, it is important to consider that the negatives for using the SMART model could, in fact, but positive for individual’s with low self efficacy; if you set a number of unrealistic goals and fail to achieve any of them, surely this will just reinforce negative self beliefs and make them stronger? Perhaps a realistic goal for these individuals would be to build their self efficacy to enable thems to set more ambitious goals for the year to follow.
So what do you think – are SMART goals a good thing? Is self efficacy the being all and end all?  Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!

Interesting and Useful Links: