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5 Ways to Set Your Goals in Stone

5 Ways to Set Your Goals in Stone

photo by mendhak

    Most of us set goals for our lives. Whether the goal is to climb Everest or to buy a pair of shoes, setting goals can sometimes seem like second nature to us. Even so, setting a goal doesn’t automatically mean getting the result. Sometimes goals are gradually forgotten about and fade away into the back of our minds.

    Motivation is the biggest goal killer. When we first set a goal, whether it’s to earn double what we earn now or achieve world domination, there is usually a reason behind that goal. People don’t jump out of bed with a goal out of the blue. There is a source of inspiration, something that has sparked our imagination. We usually see something, or read about something that makes us want our lives to change. There is an initial spark and we’re hit with a flood of motivation, and can’t wait to get started on this goal.

    After a few weeks or even days, our enthusiasm dies down, and that spark of inspiration becomes a memory. We know what the goal is, but we no longer have that passion burning inside us and our momentum grinds to a stop.

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    To achieve goals that take time, we need to stay motivated, and we need to keep the inspiration flowing. The goals need to be constantly in our minds. Unavoidable and present wherever we are. If we’re constantly reminded of our goals, they never go away. This constant reminder means that goals are always on our mind, and easier to achieve.

    As with most things, it’s better to keep this process simple. These are five suggestions that I use. They’re easy to do and don’t take much time, but the effects are obvious once you do them.

    I’m going to start with what I find to be the most effective method, and the rest of the list will be in descending order (so you get the best stuff first).

    1. Create a “vision board” or “board of dreams”.

    I found this method over at selfgrowth.com, and it always keeps me motivated. The idea is to get a notice board, and let your artistic side out. Create a shrine to what you want to achieve. Don’t just write a list. Stick up things that remind you of what it is that you want. Photos, gifts, memorabilia, letters, notes, pages from books. Anything that provides you with a reminder of that original inspiration. If you’re goal is to become wealthy, think of all the things that remind you of that goal. Houses, cars, yachts, people. The list is endless. Be creative: print a picture of the American Express Centurion card and stick that up until you can replace it with one of your own (you might have to phone American Express and say you lost your card to replace the one on the board). This board will engulf everything about your goal and show you all the reasons you want to achieve it.

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    Once done, stick it where you will see it most. I have mine facing my desk. Whenever I glance up from my monitor I see the board. When I’m feeling uninspired and ready to quit, a few minutes looking at my board, appreciating all the things that I want to achieve gives me that bit of inspiration needed to continue working.

    1. Photos (everywhere)

    Visual stimulation can be much more powerful than words. Seeing the words “Aston Martin Vanquish” doesn’t compare to seeing an Aston Martin Vanquish. Images are a source of great inspiration. A quick look at advertisements will show that the ones providing visual stimulation work better than the ones with only words. Seeing a sunset isn’t the same as reading about it, no matter how good the writer. Get photos of what you want to achieve and stick them everywhere you can. Pictures of the people that inspire you doing what they do best are great. Decorate your home with them, put them on your desktop background, put them on your cell phone background, have photos on your desk of things that represent your aims. The picture isn’t as important as the emotional connection to your goal that comes with it.

    Steve Pavlina suggests using digital photo frames. Digital photo frames allow you to have a slide show of images. Seeing these images will reinforce your desires, and remind you what you’re working towards.

    1. Leave notes (everywhere)

    As well as the photos, have notes dotted around the place. Write notes that explain the photo you have chosen. A photo of a mansion with a pool with a note saying “I am going to buy this house” will further reinforce your goal. The more unavoidable and obvious your goals are, the easier it becomes to remember what you are working for. Notes can be left anywhere. I leave notes on my desk, by my bed, on the refrigerator door, in the bathroom (although they tend to get wet). Write on your spouse’s face when they’re asleep if you want to (okay, don’t. This isn’t a good idea…).

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    1. Your most used applications

    What applications do you use most? The majority of applications that are used everyday will have some way of keeping a note, whether it was meant for that purpose or not. I’m an avid user of iGoogle and my iGoogle homepage displays my goals every time I log in. Microsoft Outlook can do the same. Firefox can (there are handy notes add-ons!). Even Windows can. Google’s Desktop sidebar lets you save notes so that they’re ready for you when you log in. Whatever application you use the most, have it remind you of your goals.

    1. Tell people (but be selective)

    Tell others about your goals. Tell the people that inspire you and will throw encouragement your way. The inspiring people in our lives will add to our momentum. Have a conversation about your goals often, don’t just tell other people and never mention them again. Remind others and talk about their goals as well as yours (don’t phone someone at 4am every morning to tell them about your goals, that doesn’t work either…). If your goals are well known and a regular talking point, you’ll never lose that inspiration.

    Staying motivated past the original spark of inspiration is not easy. It can take discipline and a strong will to keep working towards a long term goal, but at the very least we can make things easier.

    Remind yourself of the original moment you set your goal. The reasons you want to achieve that goal. The potential results of your hard work should be seen around your home or workplace.

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    Don’t stick to a list. Be creative, put effort into this and it will have a bigger impact on your life. Make a day of it and let the day become part of your memories. A day dedicated to decorating your house with reminders will stick with you longer than 10 minutes spent writing a list.

    I’ve used all the methods above, and I find the vision board to be the most effective. Spending a few hours creating a collage of what I want to achieve helped the whole idea of the goal sink in, and I got to spend some time going through each aspect of the goal this way.

    Hopefully with the above methods, you will find your goals become part of who you are, and you’ll find the journey to achieving them much easier.

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    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

    It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

    Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

    “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

    In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

    New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

    There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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    So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

    What is the productivity paradox?

    There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

    In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

    He wrote in his conclusion:

    “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

    Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

    How do we measure productivity anyway?

    And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

    In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

    But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

    In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

    But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

    Possible causes of the productivity paradox

    Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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    • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
    • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
    • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
    • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

    There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

    According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

    Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

    The paradox and the recession

    The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

    “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

    This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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    According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

    Looking forward

    A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

    “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

    Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

    “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

    On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

    Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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