Procrastination and motivation are two of the biggest words you’ll hear when trying to be successful. Goal setting theory is what I describe as one of the core pillars of my success. That’s why I’ve given two Tedx talks on this in the past, including one in Sydney, Australia. So, what is goal setting theory and how can you use it to accomplish your dreams?

Where Does It Come From?

Let’s begin by understanding the origins of goal setting theory. It comes from Dr. Edwin Locke, who discovered that people are more likely to be motivated by getting 80% right than by someone saying try your best.

Why? Simple. They have a real, authentic, specific goal to aim for. It keeps them motivated and so they’re able to accomplish far more than someone who only has some generic words of encouragement. This is where modern goal setting techniques used by the corporate world can be traced back to.

Goals Must Be Specific

From the previous section, you’ve probably gathered that the difference between the two examples is that one is specific and the other is generalized.

The key to accomplishing your dreams is to have a specific goal in mind. Becoming famous or becoming rich isn’t specific enough. A better way to do it is to say that you want to have a million followers on Instagram or you want to make it to a million dollars in net worth by the age of 35. Those are specific goals.

Don’t Just Set Goals Set Sub-Goals

Big, inspiring goals are my forte and I remind myself of them every single day. But so many of them take such an amount of work that you can’t seek adequate direction and motivation from them. How many of us can really use an endpoint ten years in the future as strong motivation?

To give myself direction I set sub-goals, so I can be inspired by my own progress.

Let’s say that I decide to make a million dollars by next year. I would break that down into months or dollar increments. By taking on smaller goals and accomplishing those smaller sub-goals you’re giving yourself the motivation to ascend to that next level.

Suddenly those huge goals don’t seem so tough.

Look Back and Evaluate

To know where to go and how to accomplish your goal you need to look back at past performance.

Let’s say that you want to write eBooks and sell them. Look back at your sales for the previous month and set yourself the challenge of increasing those numbers by 25% over the next month.

The reason why this is so powerful is you’re focusing on things to improve on. It’s your anchoring point for future goals and sub-goals.

Have a Level of Accountability

I’m extremely public about the things I do in life. Yes, it’s part of the Tim Sykes brand, but it also acts as motivation for me to do what I say I’m going to do. There’s no greater whip than knowing that you’re going to look foolish if you promise something big and deliver nothing. Alone nobody will ever know, but accountability doesn’t just make success a nice treat it makes it a necessity.

Do this publicly through social media or work closely with a mentor. The point is to keep your goals in the spotlight. Studies have shown that those who work with others like this are more likely to stick to their goals.

The Art of Goal Setting Theory

Goal setting theory is the base for all modern corporate goal setting. It means to have ambitious goals that are specific in both manner and time limit. It also means setting milestones along the way and being accountable to someone else.