If there’s a few things that I hope you truly glean from these letters, one of them would be the value of goal setting. I consider myself a goal-oriented person, but I was reading my 2009 life goals that I recorded in a letter this past January, and I completely forgot that I set about half of them. I did a couple of things wrong, namely setting too many goals and then not keeping them in front of my eyes. Learning lessons one and two, and learning lesson three comes from Matt Oechsli. (I borrowed this information from his Performance Edge newsletter published by the Oeschsli Institute).
Oechsli draws information from Dr. J. Sterling Livingston’s work, “Pygmalion in Management” (which in turn borrowed from research by David McClelland and John Stkinson). One of the conclusions in this work is that our motivation to reach certain goals peaks when we perceive there is a 50% chance of achieving that goal. If the goal is too high or too low, we suffer from lack of motivation because the goal is impossible for us or is too easy for us. And so, Oechsli concludes with saying “The key to goal achievement is to set and commit to goals that you may not reach 50 percent of the time, even though you are giving it a 110 percent effort.”
As a professional, this was timely because now I’m setting goals for 2010 for what I want to do as a financial planner. But in addition to the professional role that I play, I can also use these concepts to set “50%” goals for my personal life as well. Till next time, Jack.