Updated: Dec 9, 2020
Psychology of goals — why they matter and how to set the right goal! Allow me to kick this off with two inspirational quotes: “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” — Bill Copeland
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis
Goals are incredibly important as they help trigger and sustain new behaviors. Change is the only permanent, but we are programmed to resist any change — and setting goals helps break down the resistance into smaller, measurable milestones, giving us something to aim for. In fact, when the right goals are set, we strive to build strategies that will enable us to perform at the required level.
Zig Zagler once said: “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”
This is why one needs to set “the” goal rather than “a” goal!
So, how does one set the right goal?
For that, let’s reference the key call outs of Edward Locke and Gary Latham’s pioneering research in goal setting, published in 1990: An individual’s most effective performance seems to be the result of goals being both specific and challenging. In fact, Locke found that over 90% of the time, goals that were specific and challenging, but not overly challenging, led to higher performance when compared to easy goals or goals that were too generic such as a goal to do your best. Deadlines improve the effectiveness of a goal. Performance is a linear function of a goal’s difficulty. Given an adequate level of ability and commitment, the harder a goal, the higher the performance. People adjust their level of effort to the difficulty of the goal.
Applying this to walking and fitness, what should your step goal be? If the first thing that comes to your mind is 10,000 👣 a day, you are not alone. That said….this golden number was actually a marketing strategy by a pedometer company in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics 😂 There appears to be no real evidence to support this target! Many physical activity guidelines around the world instead recommend a 30 min per day or 3000 to 4000 steps a day of the moderately paced walk to achieve improved health outcomes! But does one size fit all? Nope! With our walking app, Walk With You, we leverage goal setting best practices to create a tailored step goal just for you. Based on your walk history, we set step goals that are specific and challenging but not overly challenging! As I write this, Walk With You suggests I target 5792 steps today.
Your goal changes every day and it’ll push you to walk a little more today than yesterday! Go ahead, ask me — Why not have a static goal? Well, because life is not static, so why should your step goal be? 😬 Also, various studies conclude that the more you walk, the better your health outcomes. So I will respond — why not have a smart, challenging, evolving goal that pushes you to be more active today than yesterday?! Ready to give walking and Walk With You a go?! Download the app now to find out how much should you be walking today!