For me, goal setting is a ho-hum topic. So many books have been written about achieving your goals, but few are worth reading. In spite of my skepticism about goal-setting books, I think that soon-to-be-published Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals may be a worthwhile read. Because of the role of focus in negotiation, I try to follow the research on promotion focus and prevention focus. So the book was first brought to my attention by a google alert. From two of the author's blog posts at Fast Company (quote from one below), it appears Heidi Grant Halvorson will be covering these two ways of focusing in her book—and I'm looking forward to reading what she has to say.
Putting in a lot only to end up with nothing to show for it is just too awful for most of us to seriously consider. We worry far too much about what we'll lose if we just move on, and not nearly enough about the costs of not moving on--more wasted resources, and more missed opportunities.
Companies have developed ways of trying to deal with this problem, but they usually involve extensive external monitoring of decision-making that is both costly and labor-intensive. But thanks to recent research by Northwestern University psychologists Daniel Molden and Chin Ming Hui, there is a far simpler and inexpensive
way to be sure you are making the best decisions when a project goes awry: focus on what you have to gain, rather than what you have to lose.
As I've written about before, psychologists call this adopting a promotion focus. When we think about our goals in terms of potential gains, we automatically (often without realizing it) become more comfortable with making mistakes and accepting the losses we may have to incur along the way. When we adopt a prevention focus, on the other hand, and think about our goals in terms of what we could lose if we don't succeed, we become much more sensitive to sunk costs.
Note (added December 17, 2010): Click to read a review of the book (InBubbleWrap).