Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Two Keys to Achieving Your Goals and Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

You can set goals and make New Year's resolutions but you'll probably fail unless you remember one thing: stay conscious.

Let's say you want to lose 20 pounds in six months. That meets all the usual criteria for a good goal: realistic, specific, and important. But you will fail unless you stay conscious of the importance of your achieving your goal, from the moment you start thinking about eating through the moment you finish or get distracted by something else. Without that vigilance, it's just too easy to succumb to "Ooh, that food will taste good." It may also help to break your goal into a small step:one pound in the next four days, for example.

Another example: You want to land a job within three months and, to that end, you want to put in 30 good hours a week. During those 30 hours, you must stay conscious that you must put in the time, reminding yourself of all the benefits you'd get from landing a job. Again, it can help to break it down into smaller goals, for example, I'll make five calls today.

If staying conscious isn't enough, tell one or more people your goal and deadline and, if necessary, ask if you could check in daily. For example, ask if you could email them the letter grade A through F you'd give yourself for your day's work.

1 comment:

mdubuque said...

Staying conscious is essential.

Using a series of 3-minute samples over the course of a few days, I calculated that, on average, I make 25 individual decisions each minute, opportunities where I could consciously change direction.

Assuming a 16-hour working day, that works out to 24,000 decision nodes per day and nearly 9 million decisions annually.

Because this works out to over 300 million decisions over the course of a career, we have a very large sample size and can therefore effectively apply quantitative methods to our analysis.

Like compound interest in a retirement account, even small improvements in decisionmaking and being more conscious pays huge dividends over time.

Consider an accuracy rate of 99.38% vs. 99.996% (sigma four vs. sigma six).

With a sigma four standard, the postal service would lose 20,000 pieces of mail per hour. With a sigma six standard they would lose seven pieces of mail per hour.

A very small improvement of 0.5% therefore has dramatic effects when applied to large data sets such as the number of decisions we make.

Therefore, being even SLIGHTLY more conscious on an ongoing basis can provoke dramatic improvements over time.

It's the power of compounding, applied to good decisions.

 

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