The E-E-E Model of Goal Setting

The E-E-E Model of Goal Setting

As we began to explore the idea of goal setting yesterday, we considered different ways of organizing and understanding this idea of setting goals in order to move us forward. In many ways, when we dig into the science it can begin to feel a little impersonal. After all, we’re more than numbers and graphs and pie charts, aren’t we? Which is why I love the E-E-E Model of Goal Setting, a person-centered approach to the science of goal setting.

A “person-centered” approach is a recalculation of psychological and medical treatment that refocuses the priority on the person, as a whole, living human, first. These fields run the risk of erring on the clinical, impersonal, and dehumanizing side of the spectrum; we see this when we hear some referred to as an “addict” instead of a “person struggling with addiction.” As we become more conscious of our language as a society, we also adjust our approach to different treatments, theories, and modalities.

The E-E-E Model of Goal Setting is a great example of this.

Theorized by Kenneth Nowack in his paper “Facilitating Successful Behavior Change: Beyond Goal Setting to Goal Flourishing,” the E-E-E Model identifies three things that goal setting does for us to help us flourish: it enlightens us, it encourages us, and it enables us.

Enlightens us:

Good goal setting helps us better understand our strengths and weaknesses, which helps us adapt and implement even more effective goal setting strategies as we progress. Goal setting also illuminates which goals align with our needs.

Encourages us:

By providing a “game plan” of sorts, goal setting helps us find and sustain motivation and excitement about our progress. When we set realistic, incremental goals, and achieve them with consistency, we build self efficacy and continued motivation.

Enables us:

No, not in a bad way. Goal setting enables us to find the balance between our real life selves and the self we expect ourselves to be. When we have a better sense of this, we find more contentment and self-worth.

What we take from this model is the importance of a roadmap: a systematic approach to getting from Point A to Point B, and all of the beautiful things that this will bring us along the way. Conceptualizing the importance of goal setting in this way places emphasis on the person over the product; the growth and change that comes to us as we crush our goals.

Chowdhury, M. (2021, May 18). The Science & Psychology Of Goal-Setting 101.
Nowack, K. (2017). Facilitating successful behavior change: Beyond goal setting to goal flourishing. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 69(3), 153–171.