We have been in the “goals” mindset at SMP for a quite a few months now, as you’ve doubtless noticed. We (and by “we” I mean “Chris”) spend most of our time on the programming end of things, but also continue to learn about the psychology of goal-setting. We ponder: why do we achieve some goals but not others? Support? Determination? How realistic is the goal?
We set goals for ourselves and discuss them weekly. Mine have all been fairly pedestrian and, hence, very achievable. I felt a huge sense of satisfaction when I cleaned and organized the storage room, but knew that action was unlikely to alter the course of my existence. I practice the bass guitar three times per week. It feels great to rock out, but my downstairs neighbour just doesn’t share my appreciation of Billy Idol or Def Leppard (I can’t turn the volume above “2” or he thumps on the ceiling). It took me nearly two months to put the Christmas decorations back in the storage locker, and it felt good to finally get those cursed tote boxes out of my office.
We hoped, however, that making goals, seeing them through, and developing our Goal-Achieving App (or “Goal Buddy” as we call it) would go up and beyond the usual domestic tasks I’ve mentioned here. We want to help people achieve bigger things, like quitting smoking, achieving academic success, or sticking to a financial plan. I have a big goal too: find a career path that really excites me. I’ve been down many blind alleys these past few years, and it has been poignantly discouraging. I got an idea in my head a few months ago – before Christmas, I think – and I just couldn’t shake it. Maybe I should join the police force. I didn’t tell anyone. I wasn’t ready to admit that I had a goal, because once you tell someone else, it becomes real and begets accountability. It was a bit scary, thinking of this new goal in all its enormity.
When I picked up an application package, I discovered that there were ten steps. Ten very complex steps. My stomach lurched a bit (and it didn’t help that I was sitting in my car, in the hot sun, with the windows rolled up). I wondered how (and if) I would get through them.
This is where real life and “Goal Buddy Development” life collided. Big goals can be very daunting. We wondered if earlier iterations of Goal Buddy were too focused on BIG goals. What if, instead, it helped you develop small behaviour changes each day? Because little goals eventually add up to big goals, right? What if, by setting a pattern of repeatable, small, positive changes, it could help you towards much grander ambitions? We are into the programming side of that already, and now the real-life analog must follow. I set a small, first goal: go to the gym every other day. It’s a start, and once I am doing that regularly, the other steps won’t seem as huge. It’s like that adage of “how to eat an elephant.” You can only do it one bite at a time.