I’m on a 50 day meditation streak and I’ve started dreaming about going to Singapore. Oh, I’ve also lost a few pounds and am eating more cupcakes. Before I forget, this post actually has nothing to do with growing your startup, viral marketing or converting users. Instead it has everything to do with achieving your personal goals and making your life better.
Recently my colleague Dan introduced me to Lift, an app that “helps you reach your goals.” While there are lots of apps that I enjoy using and have made my life more efficient (i.e. Dropbox, Skype, WhatsApp, etc), I’m not referring to those here. I’m referring to apps that have fundamentally made my life better, I don’t come across those too often. I was kind of skeptical at first, but after 50 days of using Lift, I’ve noticed a number of positive results and believe that the app actually works. To help provide some context, here are a few features of Lift that I love:
- Goal Streaks — Lift calculates how consistent you’ve been on accomplishing each of your goals (e.g. Floss for the 16th day in a row).
- Goal Count — If you’ve missed a day or have a gap in your streak, instead of restarting the count from zero, Lift tells you how many times you’ve accomplished the goal instead (e.g. Wake up by 6:30 for the 23rd time)
- Reminders — Lift allows me to send myself automated reminders throughout the day (e.g. at 10:30 pm everyday, I get a push notification that says: “REMINDER: Floss. Today will be a 14 day streak”). So when I’m about to forget or get lazy, that little nudge puts me over the top.
Now that you know a little bit about Lift, here are 3 unexpected things I learned over the last 50 days:
1. Lift sparks a journey towards a better understanding of your own psychology.
I never really understood why I couldn’t stick to my new year’s resolutions, or goals that I’d set for myself every year on my birthday. I didn’t end up going to the gym 100 times in 2011, nor did I finish reading the 24 books that I committed to reading back in 2012. I got started on each of the goals, but somewhere along the way I fell off the wagon and couldn’t figure out how to get myself back on. I just couldn’t motivate myself to start again, and as time passed, the goals became unrealistic, so I never accomplished them. With the help of Lift, the last 50 days were different and here’s why:
- Getting a Little Push — I really need it, especially in the beginning when I start on a new goal. Lift’s goal streaks combined with automated reminders, give me the extra push I need to get things done. On some days the push forces me to act on my goals; even if only just to maintain my streak, but who cares it works.
- Feeling a Sense of Accomplishment — By checking my goals off in Lift as I complete them, I feel good, it gives me a sense of satisfaction. Looking at a list of 6–10 goals that are all accomplished at the end of the day, makes me feel like I’ve had a productive day.
- Sharing Publicly Works — When I share my goals publicly, it reaffirms my commitment to them. I hate starting something and not finishing it, especially when I’ve told people about it. So now, when I meet my friends, I share my goals with them. Since I also have the data available, I also tell them about my goal streaks or how many times I’ve accomplished a particular goal. Publicly sharing my personal goals allows me to talk about them more, and thereby reinforces the fact that I must continue working on them.
- Habits First, Results Second — Before I’d set a goal to try and lose 10 pounds by swimming more, eating healthy and going to the gym. Now I’ve learned that I should try building 1 habit, and then allow the results to come over time (i.e not be fixated on losing the 10 pounds). In the case of swimming, I started small, by trying to go once every two weeks. I achieved that goal, and then bumped it up to once a week. I now go twice a week and have actually noticed positive results when I step on the scale. As a result, I’ve now started working on building other fitness related habits like running into my routine. I’ve learned what it takes (i.e. the how) to actually build an effective habit for myself.
2. Lift sparks meaningful conversations in unlikely situations.
Getting together with friends often leads to a conversation about new apps we’ve each discovered. The last few times I brought up Lift, I noticed something very different take place. While the conversation started off with usual questions like- what does Lift do, is it free, is it available on both iOS and Android etc, the follow up after was where it changed. My conversations lead to longer discussions about self improvement, trying to accomplish a specific goal and the experience of using the app towards achieving that goal. In some cases, I even gotten into deeper conversations relating to things like technology’s impact on society, human psychology and the current state of public education. So instead of showing off some new photo-sharing app that ends with a quick show and tell demo, conversations around Lift end up being actually meaningful. A simple conversation about the “Lift App” often acts as a gateway towards a more personal discussion on growth, life and happiness.
3. Lift sparks a change in workplace culture and peer relationships.
As I mentioned earlier, I was introduced to Lift by my colleague Dan, making me the second person within our company to start using the app. What’s interesting is that in a short period, we now have five out of our small team of ten on the app as well. Seeing as we have a ‘critical mass’, we now regularly talk about our goals and the challenges we’re experiencing during lunch. In fact, we look forward to it and have even scheduled weekly Self Improvement lunches centered around Lift. We all try to help each other with our goals, share what’s working, what’s not, and celebrate each other’s progress.
I think there is something unique here. While some companies try to host events like evening yoga sessions, I find that these sorts of events are forced and ineffective in getting broader team participation. Only a handful of people end up benefiting from the event. Since Lift is really just an app, it allows people to work on personal goals that matter to them, on their own time. You can be doing yoga, paragliding, meditating or even scrapbooking— it doesn’t matter, the point is you’re working on something you want to do for yourself. Oh and by the way, it still manages to build a sense of community through the app’s Follow and Props features. For example: I follow Dan and if I notice he’s completed a meditation session at 8pm, I don’t feel awkward in giving him props in the evening. What ends up happening is that we’ll even talk about his meditation session the next day when I see him, since I know he had one. Lift is a unique app that’s safe for work and helps to build a positive culture, both when you’re at the office and at home. I’ve learned more about my co-workers by using Lift, than any other app.
Everything I’ve described within this post supports building and sustaining motivation. People start things all the time, but getting back on track after falling astray is the difficult part. Sustaining that initial motivation when you begin your journey is incredibly difficult and Lift’s helped me with that over the past 50 days. I know that’s a short period of time, but I can already see the difference and that’s why I love it. Gaining a better understanding of my psychology, having meaningful conversations, and building a supportive workplace culture have created this threefold strategy that continuously keeps me motivated. Somedays all three converge where I feel like my goals are coming out of my skin, and nothing can stop me from accomplishing them. That’s why I think Lift is a personal growth hacking app. It has these redundancies built into it that help you growth hack at a personal level, towards achieving your own goals and living a better life.
Image Credit: Amtrak Corkscrew — By Timothy Vogel