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How do numbers increase your chances of achieving your goals?
  • JohnJohn
    Numbers can be extremely powerful when it comes to achieving our goals.

    Deep in the forests of America in the 1970’s, two groups of loggers were hard at work under the eagle eye of psychologist Gary Latham. Latham’s quest was to work out what would influence the loggers to cut down more trees.

    Both groups of loggers were treated identically except for one key aspect. The first group were simply told to do their best and cut down as many trees as possible. In contrast, the second group were taught how to calculate the theoretical maximum number of trees that they could fell and were given a counter to wear on their belts so they could keep track of their progress towards that goal.

    After twelve weeks of felling and counting tress the ‘goal setting’ group had felled significantly more trees than the group told to try as hard as they could.

    From this study and many others, goal setting gurus Latham and his colleague Locke concluded that getting feedback on your progress towards a goal through regular measurement is a powerful strategy to increase achievement.

    But why does feedback on our progress improve success?

    -Making progress towards a goal can make us feel good. When you focus on what you want to achieve it can fire you up to get going and keep going.
    -If you measure your progress and find you aren’t on track, you can adjust your strategy and try find a more successful one. It’s far better to discuss sooner than later what doesn’t work.
    -Setting challenging mini goals and tracking your progress can psychologically turn what feels like work into a more exciting challenge which can become addictive

    When you set yourself some dates to achieve your goals, monitor yourself against these. Are you on track? Do you need to put more time into catching up?

    If you don’t have a plan of things to do, and set dates by them, then you will have no idea if you are on the road to progress or about to meet a dead end. Monitoring progress along the journey will not only keep you motivated but will help you carry on when the going gets tough. When you set yourself goals, make them challenging. Sure, make them achievable but don’t make then so easy. You will make further progress if you take bigger strides. Remember, just doing your best may not push you towards your potential so whilst making positive steps are good, taking positive strides will get you there quicker.