We’ve all heard the theory – setting goals can improve performance by giving you a focal point, preventing wasted effort and giving you something to strive for.

Goal setting can improve your performance, how do you set yours?

As a business coach I frequently have conversations about goals with clients, prospects and other contacts that I simply help. There is a fundamental question, I’d like to know what you think?

Set High Goals or lower goals?

I sat this weekend watching a couple of children trying really hard to achieve something that they were not at all likely to manage. One was getting upset as he realised that he couldn’t get there. The other tried harder and harder, she wasn’t going to be beaten by a target. Which are you more like? Which are different members of your team more like?

The basic question is – which is right?

The case for High Goals.

Set the goal high so that if you achieve it you will feel incredible, have boosted performance by an amazing amount and transformed whatever you were doing. If (and being a really positive person you won’t admit the possibility of this) you miss the target, you will still have done incredibly well. It’s a bit like the saying

“Leap for the stars, if you miss you’ll land on the moon; but aim for the moon and you’ll land back on the earth”

The case for lower goals

Set a more realistic goal, ensure you can achieve it and feel wonderful for getting there. The trouble with setting a goal that is “too stretching” is that (at best) it can de-motivate and maybe even damage morale, and people’s beliefs.

Set realistic goals

Now I know the obvious statement here is to set something in between, the “realistic goal”. But is that not another way of saying set a low goal, or maybe set a high goal and believe you can do it?

I know that goals can improve performance; I’ve seen it work for many firms and clients. In fact I wrote about goals in fundamental-principles-to-help-you-succeed (click to read it). They can help you achieve more and go faster.

But I’ve also seen many people “damaged” by setting something that they didn’t achieve. I see them get misused, did you read why-goals-strategies-visions-and-missions-drive-me-mad?

What do you think – performance by beating your self up or striving for better? High goal, low goal?

Perhaps that’s why you don’t set yourself and your team goals – or do you?

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Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access