The Goal Setting Theory of Motivation

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The Goal Setting Theory of Motivation

When you wake up in the morning, what is that one thing that pushes you to get out of bed?

Your kids? Your job? Your goals?

Goal Setting Theory

It’s probably the same thing that keeps you going throughout the day as well. We all need that motivation to survive! And one of the theories of motivation that affects my productivity is the Goal-Setting Theory. Let’s now look at what that theory is and how you can use it.

So let’s get started.

The Goal-Setting Theory – Overview

During the 1960s, Edwin Locke came up with the theory of goal-setting, which revolves around the idea that setting goals affect human performance. Technically, the theory states that by setting specific and challenging goals, you can contribute to the task better. Moreover, when you get appropriate feedback, it pushes you to work even better.

So the theory says:

Specific and Challenging Goals + Appropriate Feedback = Better Performance

Now let’s closely look at each of the components of the equation.


Goals are a primary source of motivation for people. Always remember that specific and challenging goals are greater motivating factors compared to easy and generalized goals. Make sure you set goals that are specific and clear. At the same time, they should be realistic and challenging.

Always set SMART goals. Remember the acronym?

  • Specific,
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound


Appropriate and specific feedback positively affects the outcome. The approach is two-pronged. First, when you get feedback, you realize that your manager (or anyone else for that matter) is observing you, and you are gaining a reputation. Secondly, when you get specific feedback, you know where you need to improve.


When you set SMART goals for yourself, they tend to motivate you to perform better. However, your performance also improves when you get specific feedback, allowing you to identify the areas that need the most improvement.

Application of Goal Setting Theory in Real-Life

While the theory was originally put forward, keeping in mind the factors that motivate employees, it is equally relevant in everyday settings. Let’s say you are 20 lbs. overweight, and you want to get rid of the extra pounds.

When you have a specific and realistic goal in mind (let’s say lose 10 lbs. in 8 weeks), along with expert advice from your gym instructor, you are more likely to accomplish your target as opposed to a person whose goal is to “lose some weight within the next six months.”

Did you notice the difference in approach?

The first one is about setting realistic, specific, and measurable goals (10 lbs. in 8 weeks) and states an action plan of how you will get closer to your goal (work with a fitness instructor). The other person’s approach is unclear. Of course, when you are not clear in your mind, you don’t feel motivated enough, and your performance suffers.

Now think of it from the perspective of your homeschool. When you set SMART goals for your homeschool and your students, these goals will keep you and your students on track, which eventually reflects in better performance. Of course, that would require you to give your students specific feedback, so they know exactly where they are lacking and how to improve.

Moreover, you will also need feedback. While you may think your kids are young and inexperienced but trust me, they have an insight that most adults miss out on. Take advantage of your students’ feedback along with working with a community of homeschool moms so your homeschool can thrive!

Ashley Yeo

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