Goal Factoring: Using Logic and Science to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions


Mon, Jan 6th, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

On The Wall Street Journal, Angela Chen explains that the best way to make sure you reach your new year's resolution goals is to think like Star Trek's Spock: by being more logical and taking a scientific view of your emotions.

It works like this: Imagine that six months have passed, and you haven't achieved the body of your dreams. How surprised are you? The less surprised you are, the less likely it is you will succeed at your goal. Then think in detail about each reason you wouldn't be surprised if June comes and the number on the scale hadn't budged. Each reason—whether "I don't have time" or "I don't like running in the mornings"—is a possible cause of failure. Using the surprise level to anticipate these is crucial to creating a plan to address each weak point.

Similarly, goal factoring can help determine whether shelling out $40 a month at the YMCA is the best way to get in shape. This involves mapping out the motivations (health, stress relief, weight loss) behind doing something (going to the gym), and questioning whether there is a more effective way to achieve the same things. Goal factoring could lead a person to realize that, given time and interests, an hour on the treadmill is unrealistic, but a weekly soccer tournament with friends is doable.

Other lessons include "structured procrastination." The idea is that if you're going to procrastinate, you might as well procrastinate by doing something that works toward another goal—for example, procrastinate on starting a work project by watching a TED talk you've been meaning to catch or starting a book you've wanted to read.



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