Backward Goal-Setting – An Analysis

Point to Point Travel Route


When an employee plans to attain a goal, it is natural for her to start from the scratch and reach till the end. For example, if someone wants to become a project manager, she will want to build the plan from start to end. This style of personal goal setting is the most common way of planning. However, there is another way to reach goals. This is called backward goal-setting. In this article, we will discuss about the technique which is generally used by students for enhancing their personal effectiveness. This is also used in the corporate environment.

An Idea

Backward goal-setting also called backward design or backward planning starts. It starts with the final objective and moves on from there to develop the plan. When a professional starts at the end and looks back, she already has an idea about the last stage she wants to attain. When an employee starts from the end, she can mark the milestones she needs to reach and the attitude she needs to show at various stages of her endeavor.

In other words the planning starts from the future and the employee has a feeling that she has already attained the goal. This boosts confidence and self-control. The approach is such that the employee thinks that it is the job of the objective to catch up with the measures taken by the employee.

Backwards goal sets something called MTO. MTO is the abbreviated version of Minimum; Target and Outrageous objectives.

The backward design works very much like a presentation. A presentation starts with the revelation of the end point at the beginning, i.e., where the presenter is aiming to reach. With the passage of every slide the presentation becomes clear and one can understand why they are being shown.

Use of Backward Planning

When a project is going on, there are times when an employee feels that the end results will never come. But, if she takes the backward planning approach, she can overcome this problem as she will be able to complete all the steps required to reach her objectives.

Backward planning is a powerful tool that helps in achieving goals. It can aid in attaining the same goal as that of a traditional method. Since the rate of frustration involved in this technique is less, the rate of success is more.

Backward Planning Process

# First step – Write down the objective

The employee must write down the final goal. Deciding what to do at the very beginning may take a little time. She needs to keep in mind that the goal is realistic and specific in nature. Now, that she has the objective ready she has to decide the date by which she wants to attain the goal. For example, she should be prepared for her PMP certification test by the 31st January.

# Second step – Decide on the measures to be taken

The next step is to think about the measures she wants to take to achieve the goal. For example, to be fully prepared for the PMP certification test, the candidate should clear all mock tests by 15th December.

# Third step – Break the goal into smaller goals

Now, that she knows what all she needs to do and what her objectives are, she needs to break up her strategic measures into smaller pieces. This will help her in realizing the objective little by little.

# Fourth step – Go a step back

She needs to go a little more backward from the goal. She should think over the last, but second goal. For example, the preparation for mock tests should be completed by 30th August.

# Fifth step – Go another step back

She can work a little more backward to decide what should be done so that previous objective is attained. For instance, by 30th April she should decide what books she should follow for passing the test.

She could work backward so that she reaches the first point from where she had decided to reach the objective. For instance, she has to sit for the project management certification test and become a certified project manager.

Making a backward plan does not look very different from a forward plan. However, thinking from a different perspective requires a lot of effort. This tool helps in removing unproductive activities that might have occurred, otherwise backward planning is very much like looking at a traditional plan in an upside down way.

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Advantages of Backward Planning

  • If the project team does not have a proper direction to go, the backward planning mode can be very helpful.
  • Since, each and every step is completed in a chronological way it helps in gaining personal satisfaction.
  • The backward planning mechanism helps in realizing milestones that are required to be achieved.
  • The backward planning mechanism aids to decide a time period so that tasks can be completed.
  • The backward goal-setting tool contributes in making the team realize the concepts in an easy way.
  • It reduces the complications and frustration of the planning phase, when people cannot realize which direction to take. Moreover, if there is any issue in the beginning, projects tend to fail.

Disadvantages of Backward Planning

  • In the initial phase backward planning technique can appear complex and complicated.
  • The tool is confusing when compared to the traditional method of planning.

Setting goals is a thought-provoking and time consuming activity. This is the reason why it is delayed by entrepreneurs for attending later. Setting goals involves a lot of foresight and planning because the goals have to be measurable and distinct.

To Wrap Up

From this article, it can be deduced that backward goal-setting is important to instill confidence in the mind of an individual who is trying to attain a goal. Whether it is an entrepreneur or an employee in her company, achieving goal smoothly and without any kind of complication is very important. By following the above mentioned steps she can make sure that she can attain her objectives without much frustration. In fact, backward goal-setting is one of the best techniques of achieving targets. It is useful in enhancing effectiveness of an individual and the company.

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