Goal is defined as target, destination, objective. Goals are what make us successful. When we have some goals in life, we strive to achieve them and this adds some purpose to our life. Now, goals have been an interesting topic for researchers of motivation theories. They always wondered what kind of goals should an individual set to achieve maximum motivation and success and what type of goals does one set for themselves. This gave rise to the birth of a theory called the goal setting theory.

In the research for this theory it was found that, there are three patterns in which we set goals for ourselves. One criterion is that we always tend to set precise and goals that we understand. Also, we set ourselves challenging goals most of the times. It hardly ever happens that an individual has set himself very easy goals that are easily achievable. This also stimulates us and makes us perform better. At the same time, we never tend to set extremely tough goals as we make sure that we can achieve them somehow.

According to this theory if somebody else sets a certain goal for us, without our consent we are very less likely to get motivated by it.
This theory states the importance of feedback in goal setting motivation. If we feel that we are getting close, we get motivated further and perform better. Also negative thinking is extremely de-motivating.

There are two types of goals as categorized by the goal setting theory. One is a directional goal and the other is an accuracy goal. This classification is very important for proper motivating. Directional goal is one where we just strive to achieve the final goal somehow. In the process we tend to neglect the finer aspects as we are concerned with only the final product. We tend to narrow our thinking too. Usually this type of motivation is not preferred where we cannot compromise on quality. The second type is accuracy goal. Here the main objective is that we try to come out with the best possible solution to the problem. This motivation is generally employed where quality cannot be compromised on. However, the goal setting theory states that there is a set back related to these accuracy goals. Since the end result is not the objective, the individual may tend to think that he may not actually reach the end result at all in pursuit of quality. This can actually be a negative de-motivating factor.

Two scientists by the name of Tetlock and Kim did a lot of research on this theory. They motivated people by giving them tasks requiring just completion of end result and also those where quality and accuracy were important. After completion they were asked to explain their thought process. There observations were formulated into important motivation theories.

To conclude this theory also states how you can use it for proper motivation. It states that if you want your employees or colleagues to purposely put in a lot of thought on the project then you should go for accuracy goal setting. Otherwise for just completion of the task, directional goal setting is great. Also, we should always try to set ourselves our own goals. The harder they are, the more we perform!