Want to set goals you’ll actually achieve?

Posted on January 4th, by Dr Rob Yeung .

What are your goals for the next 12 months? Maybe you want to lose weight, eat more healthily or quit a bad habit. Perhaps you want to socialise more – or socialise less and study more.

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests a new way of setting goals. Suppose you want to lose weight. You could either set yourself a specific goal (e.g. “lose 10 pounds”) or a high-low range goal (e.g. “lose 8 to 12 pounds”).

In their study, researchers Maura Scott and Stephen Nowlis found that people who set high-low range weight loss goals lost the same amount of weight as people who set specific goals. However, the people who set high-low range goals were significantly more likely to reenroll in the programme. High-low range goals may boost people’s motivation to keep up with their goals.

People who set high-low range goals may be more likely to sustain the longevity of their achievements.

The researchers suggest that a high-low range goal may have benefits due to its flexibility. The high end of the goal (e.g. “lose 12 pounds”) is ambitious and challenging. The low end (e.g. “lose 8 pounds”) makes it seem more attainable.

Let’s say you want to exercise more. Set yourself a high-low range goal. Rather than saying that you must hit the gym 3 times a week, allow yourself a flexible goal of perhaps 2 to 4 visits a week.

So what are your goals? And what would be a sensible high-low range target for you?

And if you’d like more advice on goal setting and change, check out other pieces I’ve written here on robyeung.com with the tag You Can Change Your Life or even my book of the same name You Can Change Your Life: Easy steps to getting what you want.

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