Some Thoughts On Goal Setting

goal setting

More Goals, More Girls

The above was a slogan I once saw on a trip to visit a manufacturer in China, I’m not sure the slogan alluded to goal setting or if the wearer understood the text at all.
 
The power of goal setting may well be the single, common thread amongst all success stories whether entrepreneurial, financial, artistic or sporting. Where there is success, there are goals. 
 
Rather than regurgitate goal setting 101, this article will summarise some additional strategies we have found helpful over the last 12 months to hit both personal and business goals.
 
  1. Switching from digital to physical.
    • The single greatest shift in going from goal setting chump to champ has been switching over from digital notes strewn across various note taking apps to a single, physical document. There are a myriad of goal setting journals, our clear favourite is this option from Best Self Co. This is the 3rd year of using the journal which also has a daily planner, gratitude list and space for notes/ ideas.
  2. We are hardwired to avoid losses.
    • Research by Daniel Kahneman, documented in Thinking Fast & Slow’, shows that humans feel the pain of a loss, over the pleasure of a gain at a ratio of 2:1. For example, a £20 loss is about as painful as a £40 gain. This may seem completely irrational, which it is, but do not despair. By understanding our natural tendencies, we can engineer a scenario that improves our chances of hitting our goals. A simple but effective solution is staking an amount that is painful enough to notice amongst friends, who will relish the opportunity to hold you to your stated goal. If you’d prefer to keep your goal away from friends, take a look at StickK.
  3. We overvalue things we own.
    • Back to Kahneman’s research, the endowment effect states we place a higher value on things we own. By publicly sharing, writing down and ‘owning’ our goal(s) we increase their value. The powerful combination of loss aversion and the endowment effect maximise our potential to stay the course.
  4. Be bold, but realistic.
    • When sitting down on January 1st, anything seems possible. Our optimistic self begins jotting down numerous lofty goals, filled with enthusiasm we feel confident. However, February comes around we fail, the whole list of lofty goals then begin to fall like dominos. The antidote to this is to aim low, by setting shorter term, realistic goals that pave the way to a lofty idealised target. Momentum, one of the most powerful laws of nature, is built through building upon small victories.
The 4 principles above can be used in conjunction with any number of goal setting philosophy (SMART, Pyramids, Wheels etc). Despite existing independently from one another, we have found that combining these strategies compounds their effectiveness. 
 
We would love to hear your experience of goal setting, both things that have worked, and those that have not. 
 
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