Goals are a fundamental part of both our professional and personal lives, so it is no surprise that there have been many attempts to help and support us in achieving the goals we set ourselves. Indeed, back in 2011, Harvard’s Teresa Amabile published The Progress Principle, in which she suggested that making progress towards our goals is fundamental to our motivation.
The video above features Wharton academic Katherine Milkman providing her own take on how we can be supported in the achievement of our goals, whether they’re acing the project we’re undertaking at work or hitting the gym several times a week as per our new year’s resolution.
Milkman has conducted a number of studies exploring the various ways in which we can help ourselves in this task. The studies specifically look at how we can resist the temptation to slacken off. For instance, it emerged that doing something as simple as writing down the time and date by which you need to have completed a task has a big impact upon success rates, which Milkman emphasized in an experiment to try and increase the number of people getting flu shots. Some helpful tools for achieving your goals…
- To help someone achieve their goal, get them to think about where, when and how they will achieve that goal (this helps to embed the process in their minds).
- Utilise ’fresh start moments’, i.e. moments when we feel like something new is beginning. You can do this by providing prompts at the start of something new, such as a new week or month, or even after a birthday or the start of a new project. This was typified by the finding that people are more likely to try and get fit in the months after a birthday than they were in the months leading up to it.
- Bundle temptations so that the tempting things in life are coupled up with things you should do. For instance, if you love watching TV, set yourself an aim of only doing so whilst at the gym. This was found to be particularly popular, with 60 percent of participants in one study revealing a desire to use this method to better keep to their plans.
Milkman hopes that her research will prove useful, not only for individuals hoping to make a better fist of their change attempts, but also for organisations hoping to help employees do better.
An important takeaway is that this is something we can all improve if we go about things in the right way and have the right mindset. What do you think of the tips? Do you have any of your own that you’ve found useful in helping you achieve your goals in life?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.