My Measurable, Specific New Year Resolutions

In 2017, I have two measurable and specific resolutions.

I have thought a lot about whether to share these resolutions. Derek Silvers TED talk would suggest you should not. The issue is related to satisfaction – when you share your resolution, you get a sense of accomplishment. This is called social recognition and it can make your brain think the work is already done. But you haven’t really achieved anything yet.

A recent post on Hacker News also prompted much discussion about goal sharing.

There has been a lot of research in this area. I will not pretend that I have done a wide literature review but rather a cursory glance for my own interest. I’ll admit – my mind was made up on sharing my two goals already.

In one paper, Gollwitzer et al found that the sharing of so-called identity goals, things like “getting fit” and “becoming a better partner”, compromised the achievement of those goals. My issue with this paper is that the 4 studies the authors conducted to prove their hypothesis were based on highly subjective goals that are hard to measure. For example, in one of the studies the participants were asked “How important is it for you to find a psychology-related job?” Their answer was a score on a 9 point scale. My perception of importance is likely to be vastly different to yours. Furthermore, the subjectivity of goals in this paper allow for manipulation of what constitutes achieving that goal.

Shteynberg and Galinsk found that where goals were shared among a like-minded social group, the intensity of trying to achieve said goals increased. The mere knowledge that others within the group were also trying to achieve these goals was enough.

Munson and Consolvo found that goal setting and non-judgemental reminders proved beneficial to achieving regular physical activity while more traditional rewards like trophies and badges did not.

For me, my hypothesis is that by clearly sharing a very small number of measurable and specific goals it will help me to achieve them. In this way, they are similar to the OKRs we use at snap40.

So, here are my two specific and measurable resolutions for 2017:

Goal 1) To lose 38 kilograms.

I’m the worst person for my own health. Especially during times of stress and long hours e.g. Building a startup, I eat large amounts of take away food and sugary snacks. The problem is that, where others go for runs or meditate, I eat comfort food. It’s a terrible crutch to have.

I’m just about to turn 27, I have an amazing partner and I run an incredibly exciting health tech business, through which I have the opportunity to write a better future for how health and care is delivered. I want to be fit and healthy to enjoy that.

So here’s some things I am going to do in 2017 to change that:

  • Start running
  • Meditate daily
  • Cut out fizzy drinks
  • Reduce eating out
  • Cut down on portion size and remove sugary snacks
  • Track my weight and diet on a daily basis

Goal 2) Read 24 books

In my downtime, I find myself watching a lot of TV. I constantly have a screen in front of me – usually several. My life is awash with noise, notifications and artificial light.

Ive noticed that I do my best thinking when I’m reading. I solve problems or come up with potential solutions. I come up with new ideas. I become happier. I also notice that spending just a short period of time reading before bed improves my sleep.

With all of that, why don’t I make a concerted effort to read?

So in 2017, I plan to read 24 books.

For both of my goals, I’m going to write weekly or fortnightly updates – sharing the books I’ve read and my progress towards become fitter, healthier and happier.

I do not believe that simply sharing my goals and my goal striving will be the key to success, but my belief is that publicly tracking progress against a measurable goal may keep me on track. Writing regular updates will serve as a reminder to myself.

The achievement of goals is something all of us find hard. The fraction of people who successfully achieve a healthy weight after obesity is small – something like 5%. But why is it that I can set a goal in snap40 and relentlessly pursue it until I achieve it but I can’t do the same personally?

My personal goals are always de-prioritised in the face of the goals for my company. However, my health and my happiness are crucial to the success of snap40 as well as my broader personal life.

By sharing my goals for 2017, I aim to be held to account by others and by myself so that I will come back on New Years Eve 2017 as a healthier, happier and more successful person.

Stay tuned for my first book and my starting weight.

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