We've talked about using the public to motivate you before, but a recent meta-analysis of 138 different studies and experiments suggests it may, in fact, be the best method for making any real progress toward your goals.
Photo by Daniel Oines.
The analysis, led by Dr. Benjamin Harkin, and published in Psychological Bulletin, found that monitoring and recording your progress was the most effective tool when it came to achieving goals like losing weight, quitting smoking, or changing diet. That may not seem terribly surprising, but in the 138 studies Harkin and his research team analysed, they found that recording progress publicly was the most effective method of all:
Our findings are of relevance to those interested in changing their behaviour and achieving their goals, as well as to those who want to help them, like weight loss programs, money advice agencies or sport coaches. Prompting people to monitor their progress can help them to achieve their goals, but some methods of monitoring are better than others. Specifically, we would recommend that people be encouraged to record, report or make public what they find out as they assess their progress.
Per their example, if you were trying to lose weight, you could weigh yourself in front of others or announce your progress on social media (maybe even with pictures). Harkin and his team also noted that it's vital you focus on the specific end result you're after. Using the same example, if you're trying to lose weight, just focus on monitoring and recording your weight. Other things like changing your diet are good for your overall goal, but if you focus on that you'll only succeed in changing your diet and not necessarily at losing weight. All in all, public accountability and support are much more powerful than you may have thought.
Does Monitoring Goal Progress Promote Goal Attainment? A Meta-Analysis of the Experimental Evidence. [Psychological Bulletin via PsyBlog]