Posts Tagged goals
According to Maslow we have five (or is it eight?). However, many other people have thought about what human beings need to be happy and fulfilled, what we strive for and what motivates us, they have come up with some different numbers.
ERG Theory (3 needs)
Clayton Alderfer (1969) set about rearranging Maslow’s needs. Rather than Maslow’s traditional hierarchy, he suggested that human needs were made up of three relatively independent factors and the order may vary between individuals.
- Existence — made up of Maslow’s Physiological and Safety needs.
- Relatedness — made up of the Social need and externally-sourced Esteem.
- Growth — made up of internally-sourced Esteem and Self-actualisation.
A few weeks ago I wrote about regulatory focus theory (approach and avoidance motivations) and its possible impact on your career satisfaction.
To summarise quickly: approach or promotion focus is about trying to achieve positive outcomes, whereas avoidance or prevention focus is about trying to preclude negative outcomes.
Different types of goals and situations can induce either prevention or promotion focus. Benign environments tend to lead to promotion focus because people feel more inclined to take risks, whereas threatening environments tend to encourage prevention focus so that they are less likely to make damaging mistakes.
Having said that, most people will have a default approach they take to new situations. Generally, people feel more motivated about their goals if they can pursue them in a manner which fits with their regulatory focus. So, promotion-oriented individuals will feel more engaged if they are allowed to pursue goals in a positive, eager manner and prevention-oriented individuals feel better if they are allowed to be careful and vigilant.
A recent study by Righetti et al. (2011) looked at how the regulatory focus of someone trying to achieve a goal was affected by the focus of someone who was advising or supporting them.
A few weeks ago Katie Dallison wrote a post about the Systems Theory Framework of Career Development — an attempt to combine all the different theoretical strands into one big ‘metatheory’.
Vinny Potter responded to this behemoth of a theory by suggesting that we keep it simple. He proposed his balloon model as a something that practitioners might be able to apply live in the real world.
Perhaps Vinny didn’t need to invent something new (although I’m glad he did). He could have just backtracked to one of the simplest formulations of general systems theory: the open system model.
Following on from Jim Bright’s post about applying the Chaos Theory of Careers to work with clients, I wanted to pick up on the thought that goal-setting is not always the right thing to do.
Being of more ‘spontaneous and unstructured’ nature, I find it quite oppressive when coaches and trainers bang on about the need to set SMART objectives. You all know the acronym:
- Specific (or is it Significant? Simple?)
- Measurable (or perhaps Manageable? Motivational?)
- Attainable (or is it Achievable? Acceptable? Appropriate? Agreed? Ambitious?)
- Relevant (or is it Realistic? Resourced?)
- Time-limited (maybe Timely?)
All this hyper-focused-ness makes me want to scream sometimes.
These conditions seem to assume that nothing is going to change; that the goal is somehow separate from the context in which it has been defined. They assume that life is not complex, that you can plot a course and just follow it.
But life isn’t like that. It’s messy. Things change. Unexpected things happen.
Perhaps it’s time for a different type of SMART objective.
Two of the frequent aims of career coaching or counselling are to empower clients and to help them develop amibtious personal goals. Nothing could possibly be wrong with that, you might think.
However, according to studies performed by Mario Weick, from the University of Kent, and Ana Guinote, from University College London, people who experience feelings of power can seriously underestimate how long it will take to achieve their goals.