What is goal setting, and why do we do it?

What is Goal Setting2

Approach vs. avoidance is also helpful to distinguish between: when we tackle a goal from “approach” style, we do so to “be better,” but when we tackle a goal from the “avoidance” style, we do so to “be less bad.” It’s a subtle difference, to be sure, but impacts the way we understand our goal.


Clearly, these distinctions bring up certain feelings. When you consider a “performance-avoidance” goal, you might think of something like “avoid negative feedback from my boss” or “get in trouble less than Shelby does.” How does this feel different than, say, “receive positive feedback” or “earn ‘employee of the month’”? One set of goals feels much more motivating than the other, doesn’t it?


Another important factor in goal setting is measurability: setting specific parameters around the goal that can be easily quantified and compared. Even our previous examples lack this idea; “receive positive feedback” remains quite vague and difficult to understand if we’ve achieved our goal or not. 


Instead, we can shift that goal to “get the go-ahead to proceed with project A at my next performance review.” With this change, we have a better idea of exactly what success looks like, when it will be measured, and if we achieved it or not.


On the whole, the reason we focus on goal setting is because it helps us better understand where we’re going, it maintains motivation, and it provides feedback. Over the next few days, we’ll break goal setting down into bite-sized, actionable steps to help you improve your relationship with alcohol.

Riopel, L. (2021, April 16). The Importance, Benefits, and Value of Goal Setting. PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-goal-setting/.