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The vast majority of organizations work with goals in one way or another. They have goals for the entire business and often these overall goals are broken down to departmental level, group level and perhaps even down to individual level.


The goals may look different and be in different time perspectives and describe different phenomena, but the vast majority of organizations work in one way or another explicitly with goals. Research on goals is also extensive, and it says that when we humans formulate a goal with our behavior or our performance, it has a positive effect on our behavior and our performance.

However, this research is not one hundred percent consistent with the experience and image that people in working life always have of working with goals. If you meet people in different organizations and ask what they think about the organization's goal processes and what goals they work towards, you are often met with frustration and dissatisfaction. Many people think the goals are too vague, they are too many, they are contradictory, they do not feel involved and involved, they think there is a lack of proper follow-up, they do not feel that the goals are relevant and they think it is mostly a way to control.

So these experiences are, in part at least, in contrast to the research that is on target. And the challenge then becomes; how can you close this gap so that people actually describe something that we definitely see as something positive and desirable when we formulate goals. And a good first step is to define what we mean by a goal. This is the starting point for us to make goals work.

Goals are something that only exists in the imagination. It is a performance, something that we humans with our thinking imagine that lies in the future. It can be a second in the future, a minute, a week, three months, a year and so on. The goal describes something that lies in the future that we want to achieve, or possibly avoid, and that we are prepared to act on. When we have such a clear picture of what we want to achieve and we are prepared to take action to achieve it, we have a goal.

We can discuss the goal in the working group or in the department. We can agree on the goal. We can also allocate responsibilities and work resources for how we should each contribute in our own way to achieve this common goal. If we succeed in this, it affects our motivation, our efforts, our behavior, our drive so that the business benefits from it. In addition, we ourselves may benefit from higher well-being and better performance.

In summary, a goal is something that describes an imagination about a desirable future that we are prepared to act on to achieve.


About Stefan Söderfjäll

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology Stefan Söderfjäll has studied our human behavior for over 20 years. Stefan wants to bring out research-based knowledge, above all about how we behave in working life. Stefan Söderfjäll is one of the owners of the Swedish digital tool for goal control, GoalEnvision. GoalEnvision is a powerful tool for you who want to set goals together in the company. GoalEnvision provides tips on successful goals and a simple methodology to get everyone to get the right things done.

About By Stefan Söderfjäll, author and PhD in psychology

Stefan Söderfjäll is a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology and has spent more than 20 years bringing out research-based knowledge about how we behave, especially about how we behave in working life.

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