Monthly Archives: May 2016

heart-Whole Sized

Why Should You Take the Goal to Heart?

I shared in my last blog about changing ourselves that I would talk about goal setting in this post. I have only one purpose today: helping you to remember how to set an effective goal.

How Do I Set An Effective Goal?

Many people mistake a dream or a wish or a desire for a goal. They are not. But, every goal will have 5 specific parts that are clearly defined: They are:

1. Able to be accomplished,
2. Clear,
3. Something that you actually do,
4. Measurable, and
5. Timed

The most popular way to remember how to set goals seems to be the SMART method. SMART is an acronym for:

S— specific
M— measurable
A— achievable
R— realistic
T— timed

Why I Don’t Like SMART Goals

“SMART” is a good acronym for goal setting, but I don’t like it because it is an acronym, and I don’t like acronyms. They are troublesome for 2 reasons.

1. It is difficult to remember what each letter stands for. Is the “s” for “smart” or “simple” or “singular” or “Seattle?” I can never remember, so acronyms aren’t very useful to me.

2. More importantly, they are not natural for our brains because they are based on words and our brains were not built for words. When you think, you do not think in words, you think in ideas and pictures. If I tell you a story about a little brown rabbit in the forest, you don’t think the letters “rabbit,” tree,” “grass.” You see a picture of a rabbit in your mind.

What Really Does Work Well?

If you will use pictures to memorize important information, you can recall details much more quickly and easily, and for longer periods of time than by using acronyms.


heart-Whole Sized


So, when you want to set a goal, think of “Take the Goal to Heart” and remember the picture above. Our friend, the goal-setting heart, is what you should see in your mind that reminds you of the 5 important parts of a goal.

1. Contract in right hand—A goal is obtainable; it can be done just as a contract is an agreement to get something done.

2. Glasses—the goal is clear. You know exactly what to do.

3. Hammer in the left hand—You actually have to do something. It is actual work.

4. Ruler in the left hand—It is measurable. You know exactly when it is accomplished and when it is not.

5. Pocket watch—It is timed. The goal should be done by a certain date and time.

Instead of trying to remember what SMART means, just picture the heart in your head and the 5 parts of the heart cartoon will remind you to “Take the Goal to Heart.”

All In a State of Mind

2 Unchangeable Truths About Changing Ourselves

“It’s easy to quit smoking cigarettes. I’ve done it a thousand times,” Mr. Zhou said to me one day as he took another puff.

It seems that “the only thing constant is change” is true—unless it is concerning changing ourselves and our old habits, customs, and beliefs. Whether it’s sticking to a program of eating right and losing weight, quitting cigarettes, stopping wasting so much time watching TV, reading more books, or refraining from yelling at the kids when they misbehave, we have all had a hard time making changes and making them stick.

The Need for Change

The Law of Diminishing Returns drives us to constant change. What thrilled us yesterday will not satisfy us today; and what we enjoy today will be boring tomorrow. We were made for change and constant improvement—that need was built into us.

The 2 Truths

So why do we find making good changes so hard?

Truth #1: Meaningful Change Is Always Difficult

While it’s easy to start a diet and loose a few pounds, the majority of people never achieve their goal and worse yet, gain all the weight back (and more!) within 3 years.

While there are multiple reasons for this, one of the most significant is the fact that we usually don’t understand the power of past habits. A habit is like a well-worn groove that is difficult to get out of. We have to overcome inertia in order to enact real change.

Truth #2: No One Can Make Us Change Unless We Want To

While the idea of making a change sounds appealing, when it gets down to the real work of making that change happen, it gets much more difficult. When you’ve finished a big meal and you’re satisfied, it’s very easy to say, “I need to lose some weight.” That’s why every diet starts tomorrow. We have to have a real desire to make a change, not just a casual wish for change.

So, What’s the Solution?

Solution #1: Goal setting and Efficacy

Researches have studied for decades what factors help us achieve a desired end. There are many things that help, but two have been proven to have the greatest effect by far. These two things are the essentials for making sure you will achieve what you want: goal setting and efficacy. I’ll give some great tips on goal setting in my next blog and I’ve talked about the importance of efficacy before (14-11-20 Blog) so I won’t say more than these right now. But, you must have these two things!

Solution #2: Commit!

If you make the real effort to realize change is hard and commit to doing the dirty work of actually changing, you will take the first step to seeing it happen.

So, here are the 3 steps:

1. Really commit to making it happen

2. Set the goal

3. Increase your self efficacy

If Mr. Zhou will do these things, I believe that the 1001st time,  he will actually see success.


You Are Different Than the Rest of the World

You are unique, you little snowflake!

How many times have we heard that from our grammar school teachers and the motivational speakers. The truth is that we are not really all that unique when we think about it. Our DNA is 99.5% exactly like every other human on the planet. We all need about the same amount of sleep, food, and water to live. We all feel the same emotions and feel them from most of the same causes.

But the problem is that we all think we are different from everyone else. Other people should wear a motorcycle helmet, but we don’t really need to. The government should set speed limits, but it is okay for me to go faster than that.

In the USA, nearly everyone says that it is very bad to text while driving a car, yet more than 40% admit to texting while driving and probably more than that do it, but will not admit to it.

Here is a sad fact: The rules don’t apply to us, because we deceive ourselves into feeling safer than we actually are. We want to operate as an individual snowflake.

How Can We, as Leaders, Turn This Around and Use It To Our Advantage?

There are many possibilities, but let me mention one today.

The Two-Step Buy-In Technique

Let’s suppose you are a team leader and you need to get buy-in from your team members. You want them to join the team and work for a common goal.

By using a simple psychological technique, you can get much greater buy-in from your team. In fact, in one study* researchers used this technique to increase voter turnout for an election by more than 25%—no small feat!

The first step is to set up a socially desirably behavior and then ask your team if they will engage or not. Nearly all will agree because it would be socially awkward not to.

The second step is to have them give a justification as to why they will perform this socially desirable behavior.

After we as human snowflakes melt by admitting in public that we are going to do something, we rarely go against society and fail to perform what we say we will do.

A Real Life Example

If you are starting  a new team project and you need to get buy-in from every team member, in your first meeting describe why this is such a great project. Then, ask each team member if they are going to commit to helping with the project (Step One). After they say, “Yes” ask them to give one reason why they are going to participate (Step Two). Nearly all of us as human beings will perform a task that we agree to do in a public setting.

Try it. I think you’ll find you can make a pretty good snowball when all of your snowflakes come together.


*Greenwald, A. G., Carnot, C. G., Beach, R., and Young, B. (1987). Increasing voting behavior by asking people if they expect to vote. Journal of Applied Psychology, 72: 315– 18.