A Guaranteed, Proven Way To Achieving Goals- Every Time

BeltI have tried every diet under the sun. Sadly, my self-discipline has never been strong enough to achieve long term results. But there was one time when I did really well. And the reason for that success is a great lesson for achieving goals. So simple. So powerful. Here it is.

OK. I know it simply comes down to eating less and moving more. But easier said than done. For me, anyway. I struggle with managing a healthy weight. Such a simple issue to fix. Yet I find it incredibly hard.  I comfort eat. Balloon out. Then I do a weight loss ‘blitz’, lose 10 kgs, feel great, get busy, get stressed, and kapow! Those jeans I put in the ‘throw out’ pile as they were hanging off the ‘new’ me….well, they are back on, top button undone as it can’t be done up.

But one system did have a longer term effect. That was Weight Watchers. It really did work, for months- until I stopped going to the weekly meetings. And in that single statement is the magic to achieving goals. Simple. Powerful. Needs discipline to do. Here it is.

People do what is inspected, not what is expected.

Heard that phrase before? Sounds trite? Maybe. But it is true, dammit.

Weight Watchers works (for me anyway) because you turn up every week to be weighed, by a stranger, with your week’s result up there for all to see… for you to see. When I went to Weight Watchers, I made damned sure I’d get a great weekly result. There was nowhere to hide. I had to face the numbers every week. And I made damned sure they went down, every week.

It’s a proven phenomenon- called The Hawthorne Effect. Subjects improve or modify an aspect of their behavior which is being experimentally measured or monitored, in response to the fact that they know they are being studied.

It’s the same with fitness and exercise for me. If I use a personal trainer, my effort and results go through the roof. I am being monitored. Measured. I want to get positive feedback, to do well. I put it in, much harder than I ever would if I was doing it alone, non-one watching, no-one monitoring.

So- what’s the message? Get a ‘Conscience’

It depends what makes you tick, I guess. But if you are anything like me, then acknowledge that to achieve goals and make solid progress, you need a ‘conscience’…. Whether that is a weekly weigh in, or a trainer pushing you to do 20% more than last time, or a set of measurable Key Performance Indicators on a job or project- whatever it is, set yourself achievable, short term goals that are regularly measured and reviewed by someone whose views you care about. And if you want to raise the performance of a team or colleague, set these types of goals, and review them- regularly.

The weird thing is, it works! And the longer you have the self-discipline to keep the system going- reviewing, fine-tuning, acknowledging, rewarding, recalibrating- the better the results. Give it a go. It might just give you that extra nudge you need.

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5 Responses to A Guaranteed, Proven Way To Achieving Goals- Every Time

  1. David December 4, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Great post, I think you are absolutely spot on and it has encouraged me to think laterally and use the science to try and refocus our production guys, blue collar environment, with more regular physical checks about what improvements are being worked on and daily reinforcement of production and financial metrics.

    With regards to the battle of the bulge, whilst I have no experience with WW, I can however endorse more of a soft lifestyle change my wife and I have made over the past 6 months with Michael Mosley’s , Fast Diet or 5/2, an easy read (kindle version also) and easy to implement.

    Essentially one fasts for 2 days a week reducing calorie intake to 500 calories for women and 600 for men, we do it roughly not getting to carried away. The other 5 days you just live normally. Not that I was seeking to drop much weight, however we have both dropped 5 to 7 kgs in 6 months, very easily. Suggest doing it with your better half to make it easier on the household and is again mutually supportive, there is the Hawthorne Effect again.

    There are supposedly a number of spin offs, in the area of cognitive health and diabetes prevention. Interestingly it seems to modify you eating habits on non fast days, encouraging one to eat less and better.

    Just a thought may be of interest because it is really quite easy to do and you don’t really notice it on the fast days.

    I declare to have no vested interests or conflicts in endorsing Michael Mosley.

    Really enjoy your posts.



    • Chris Savage December 5, 2013 at 11:04 am #

      David- thanks for the tip. Coincidentally a colleague mentioned this approach to me last night, but did not know what it was called. I will certainly give it a go! Chris

      • David December 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

        Great Chris, give it a try and let us know how it goes.



  2. liz@lifedreaming December 8, 2013 at 5:00 am #

    Hi Chris

    Just came across from a Daily Muse FB posting and one of your posts was mentioned as links they loved about making and breaking habits.

    I clicked across because I love the name of your business.

    And now I really like your writing and have subscribed.

    Yup – the external support/effort/reward equation is really interesting.

    I’m an Aussie living in Dublin and I have recently set up a Friday Skype call with a best friend in Perth. We’re both micro and serial entrepreneurs so it’s not like we can pop into human resources for KPI’s and support.

    Every Friday we Skype and listen to how each others week has gone; what we aimed to achieve; what actually happened ( and sometimes that’s poles apart!); what we plan to do the following week.

    It really helps and not just because we gently hold each other accountable – we also commiserate, celebrate and truly delight in each others endevours.

    And thanks for the other great post I read -The Hardest Habit (jan 30 2013) – I’m writing those 4 insights on my wall so I can focus on them every day.

    In 10 days I get to fly home to Perth and see my family after 6 years and I can’t wait to see some sunshine; hug family and friends; drink some wine; and take space and time to reflect and plan the next steps in my passionate biz – something that scares and exhilirates me in equal measure.

    Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts David and thanks.


    • Chris Savage December 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      Liz- thanks so much for the feedback. Appreciated. Good luck with your return to Perth for a break- great city!

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