Support can make or break a goal. When we circulated a survey several months ago, asking the general public how (and if) they would use an app to help them achieve a goal, a large number of respondents indicated that lack of support was a primary reason that they had not met goals in the past. Support often comes from an external source – another human being close to you, typically – but powerful support also exists in electronic guises like social media platforms, forums, online discussion groups, and in apps.
Indeed, our own Goal Buddy app is intended to fulfill a support role for the user, lending motivation in a friendly but non-intrusive way. Like a friend would. The entire Saturday Morning Productions team has asked itself, when faced with a challenge, a conundrum, or a goal:
What would Goal Buddy say?
How can we make Goal Buddy’s “voice” (for lack of a better term) human? More importantly, how can GB’s communication with the user be tailored so that its messages are effective and welcome? Moreover, how can we strike the right tone? Some of us respond to drill sergeant-type orders, and others need less militaristic encouragement. Neither way is right or wrong, but it isn’t always easy to know which voice people (or oneself, for that matter) people respond to.
We thought about it this way: what would you say to a friend who had embarked on a grand journey towards a significant goal (one that, like virtually all huge goals) consisted of many smaller pieces? I would do my best to be kind, positive, and patient – all the qualities I value in my friends – but, at the same time, if my friend kept not doing what they say they wanted to do, I would ask them if that is indeed what they want. We all miss doing things from time to time (like if you get sick and can’t go for your daily run, for example), but if skipping out on things becomes a pattern, it may be time to reexamine the situation.
My own goal situation – the goal of joining EPS – has become a bit of a case study for Goal Buddy’s development (which is flattering and cool – I’ve never been a case study before!), and is timely because such a significant goal is inevitably comprised of many small hurdles that must be cleared before the giant, final, hurdle is conquered. It’s made a world of difference knowing that someone expects me to be at the gym every other day, but there are other things that don’t have an audience. Like studying for the entrance exams, keeping on top of current events, and remembering to keep a positive inner dialogue going. Sometimes, when a current of self-doubt slips into my mind, I ask myself: what would Goal Buddy say?