Setting goals is the first step to implement them into life at some point. A bright idea will remain such until we take a decision to move on with it and take the first steps towards its implementation. A goal is exactly such an idea by itself; sometimes it motivates us, and for the rest of time it does not. We may set plenty of goals every day, and there is no guarantee that any of them will push us to actions. But smart goals are the ones that can really motivate us to work.
The experience of multinational companies confirms that setting goals helps to improve productivity but only if these are effective goals. An effective goal is a specific idea that is real to implement over a limited period of time. For example, increasing sales in the region by 10 percent by the end of the season is a specific goal, while improving customer service is an abstract one. Many goals that do not look realistic enough stay in suspension for a long time and bring neither productivity nor innovation.
Smart goals motivate us through different channels. First, they set a direction for further actions. Bearing abstract categories in mind, we often do not know where to start. A specific problem gives us a direction in which we shall work to resolve it. Importantly, these problems also challenge us. Do we believe that our abilities are so much limited to prevent us from bringing effective solutions? Certainly not. Challenging tasks demand innovative decisions, and that is exactly what we do proceeding with our goal.
Setting goals that are not smart will not help to boost motivation, and that is perhaps the only problem with self-set goals. No one can motivate us better than ourselves so the skill is essential in the workplace.