Patrick: Hey everybody, I’m Pat V., and you’re listening to the Rise Above Your Best podcast, where I’m not only obsessed with searching out and interviewing individuals that are achieving great success to uncover their habits, but also in uncovering and presenting the research that proves great success is available to anyone, and it all starts when you believe in the power of rising above your best.
Patrick: I’m so excited about today’s podcast. Today doesn’t involve a guest, it involves really some of the science and some of the understanding behind how the guests that I’ve had on the show, and will continue to, have really followed this recipe, and understand that the research that backs up the importance of goal-setting to get where you want to go. This isn’t going to be just about normal goal-setting, this is gonna be a simple model that’s gonna be not about just setting objectives and what you want to do, but it’s really going to dig down into the why. Why do you want what you want? That really is going to be one of the key things that’s going to help you to get you to where you want to go and really to rising above your best.
Patrick: Goal-setting is one of those things that can be really difficult for people, maybe not just the setting of the goal, but certainly the follow-through of the goal. I think we’ve all been there where we’ve tried to set something and life gets in the way. It takes over, something more important comes along. This is what we’re going to talk about, how to set goals. This is work that I do with a lot of my clients, and I call it Going for the Goal: To Achieve or Not to Achieve.
Patrick: We’re really gonna look at three things. We’re gonna look at what are the three Ps that we need for goal setting? It’s Planning, Practice, and Perseverance. What’s the research behind that, and then how do we go about setting a goal? Most have heard of SMART goals, but I think there’s a better way, and we’ll talk about that, that I think eliminates two steps and makes it easier for us to hold ourselves accountable to the things that we do.
Patrick: When we talk about the three Ps of goal setting in terms of planning, practice, and perseverance, those really are the three things. The planning is what we’re going to talk about today, the set of the goal. We’ll also talk about the practice of the goal, and not just any practice but deliberate practice and what’s the research behind that. We’ll also talk about perseverance and the research behind that in terms of grit and the ability to grind it out. Without those three things, the ability to set the goal, the planning, the practice, the deliberate practice of the goal, and then the perseverance, the grit to stay behind what we say we’re going to do, it’s very difficult or very easy I should say to fall off what we want when we don’t have those three things. There’ll be a PDF in the show notes that will break out these three things in a diagram showing you planning, practice, perseverance.
Patrick: First off when we talk about goals, what are the purpose of goals? In research that was done back in 2002, it was a study called Building Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation. This was a 35-year odyssey, and what they looked at was hundreds of settings, 40,000 participants, eight countries in both lab and field settings. What’s interesting is what they found was that difficult goals produced the most satisfaction for people.
Patrick: In terms of commitment for following through on the goals, what they found was those that were most difficult, they were reached because they had the strongest “why” behind them and also that that “why” provided the strongest self-efficacy, which meant the person’s own confidence in the ability in themselves to do that.
Patrick: There are many other psychological and practical benefits that come from goal-setting. On that first [inaudible 00:03:14] we talked about practice. We’re again talking about deliberate practice, and this is based on research that was done, people are familiar with the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. He references a lot of the research by a gentleman named Anders Ericsson, who was a researcher that came up with this idea of 10,000 hours, and did the research behind it. And what’s interesting, a couple quotes from that, it says, “New research shows that outstanding performance is the product of years of deliberate practice and coaching, not any innate talent or skill.”
Patrick: As I like to quote Gary V. now, to me this is part of that “suffocating out excuses”, that the research clearly shows it’s practice, not innate talent or skill. “This person’s better than me because they grew up here or did that,” and it’s shown more and more now. It says that the development of genuine expertise requires struggle, sacrifice, and honest, open, often painful, self-assessment. And I think that’s where certainly I know I’ve struggled, and many of the people that I work with will say the same thing, that is a tough thing to do, that struggle, sacrifice, and painful self-assessment.
Patrick: He goes on to talk about deliberate practice involves improving current skills and extending our reach and range of new skills. What’s important here as well is when we talk about deliberate practice this is specific, this is working on certain things over and over again. When we talk about habit-changing, we will generally hear things around 21 days, but the research actually will suggest that it’s more like 66 days, or over two months, before you actually develop a habit. Which gets into certainly the importance of practicing over and over again.
Patrick: The next part of this is looking at perseverance, this is the grit component to it. There is a great quote by a man named Dwight Hillis who said, “Man must take his choice between ease and wealth. Either is available, but not both.” We look at research done on grit, I referenced a study that was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology back in 2007. The title of it is Grit: Perseverance and Passion. It says that, “Not talent alone, but sustained and focused application of talent …” So we’re back to what we spoke to first, deliberate practice, “that’s what was needed for attainment. And that in every field grit may be as essential as talent to high accomplishment.” Once again, suffocating the excuse that somebody’s more talented than me or they’re from a better family, it’s bologna, and it keeps coming up.
Patrick: So the last part is around the planning, and this is the goal-setting part. I used to find SMART goals were the thing that I worked with clients on, and I always found that there was ease with understanding the S and the T about specific and timebound, but when we got to the middle letters it got a little fuzzy at times. So what I did was I developed a model that I felt was much easier, at least as a starting point to get people to understand how to set goals.
Patrick: And it was an acronym based on SET, so are my goals Specific, are they Emotional, and are they Timebound? And what I have found is that when those three things can be answered in a positive way, are my goals SET, are they specific, emotional, and timebound, that the likelihood of follow-through on those things is very good.
Patrick: So when we talk about the first one, specific, that’s really asking the question, “What is it that I want to achieve?” So if it’s weight loss, let’s say it’s “I wanna lose 10 pounds.” Whatever it is, it needs to be as specific as possible.
Patrick: So then we move on to the next part which is around emotional, and that really is the “why” to wanting the goal, and that’s the part that SMART tends not to address as much. The emotional part is probably the most important for achievement, and one of the things that I will work with clients on is to say, “What are the five whys?” Because when you can answer why I want to lose 10 pounds five times, and not the same five times, the likelihood of you really drilling it into your head that this is really important, the less likely you will be when you come into the kitchen and go to the cabinet and see the Oreos, you’re gonna leave them there, and maybe you go below on the counter where there’s a fruit bowl and you grab an apple.
Patrick: So as an example, if we were to say, “I wanna lose 10 pounds. Well, why do I wanna lose 10 pounds? I wanna lose 10 pounds because I need to be more active. Well, why do I need to be more active? I need to be more active because I wanna coach my son in football. Well, why do I wanna coach my son in football? Well, he’s getting older and I don’t wanna lose the relationship we have, and if I’m out on the field with him that’s more time that we can spend together. Why is it important for you to spend more time together? Well, because as he gets older I wanna continue to have a great relationship. Well, why do you wanna have a great relationship with your son? Because that’s my legacy.”
Patrick: When we get to that point on anything that we’ve done, if we answer that exhaustively five times, the likelihood of us staying the course is really gonna pretty good.
Patrick: And the last one is obviously about being timebound, so when, if we’re going off of weight, when do I plan on losing this 10 pounds? Say it’s August, and 10 pounds I wanna realistically say I’m gonna lose 10 pounds by November 1st. Now I have a date, I can’t keep pushing this thing off, and that is really important. Because if we don’t have that, then things will just continue to linger.
Patrick: That’s probably the reason why, if you look at a lot of the statistics around goal-setting or New Years’ resolutions, I believe it’s most people stop that, go back to their old habits, after January 15th. That’s why if you’re in the market for weight equipment or exercise equipment, probably March is the best time because people then realize that they’re not using it anymore, and it’s just an expensive coat hanger.
Patrick: So a couple things that I wanna leave you with in terms of inspiration on how do you stay the course. The first is the story of the Chinese bamboo tree, and the Chinese bamboo tree is one that says that, “In year one, when I water and fertilize and give it sun, it doesn’t grow. When I do the same thing in year two, water, fertilizer, and sun, it doesn’t grow. In year three, water, fertilizer, sun, still no growth. Year four, the same thing, no growth. It’s not until year five that this thing finally grows. But when it grows. it grows 60-80 feet in only six weeks.”
Patrick: And really, we’re no different than that in some regards. In the initial stages, we can be working and working and working and we’re not seeing the results of the effort we’re putting in. We need to have that faith and belief that we’re doing the things that need to get done, and that eventually it will come out.
Patrick: The next is the marshmallow story. The marshmallow story is about a researcher named Walter Mischel who did a study with five-year-olds, kids in kindergarten basically. This was done back in the 70s, and what they did was they had kids in a room with an instructor, and they told the child, “I’m gonna leave the room for 15 minutes, and if I come back and this treat,” could have been a marshmallow, a cookie, a piece of chocolate, “if that’s still here you’ll get two of them.”
Patrick: So as the instructor left, the children had to sit there. Some decided to get up and go into the corner so that they didn’t have to look at it. Other children maybe pretended to lick it and smell it, but didn’t eat it. And obviously some kids ate it.
Patrick: Well that’s just the beginning of the story, because then what they did was for the next 40 years almost they tracked these kids, and what they found was upon follow-up after follow-up that these kids were better-adjusted in schools, better grades. As they became adults, financially they made more money, they rated themselves as happier, there were fewer divorces, and in many other measurements they came out higher than the children that ate the marshmallow.
Patrick: The reasoning behind this was simply looking at it and saying that it was all about delaying gratification, and that really is part of goal-setting too. Any time we can delay gratification on something, “I’d love to not go to the gym, or to run when I get up first thing in the morning, or skip it, but I know that by doing that it’s gonna cost me more. I’m better off to delay doing something else, take the time to go for the run, or go to the gym, that by doing that I’m gonna feel so much better after, and I always do.”
Patrick: So as you look back on your own development, think about planning and practice and persistence, those three things that are needed overall for your goals. And then ask yourself, “Are my goals SET? Are they specific, are they emotional, and are they timebound?” And I promise you that if you do those three things, and you can answer those three questions, it is without question that you will rise above your best.
Patrick: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Rise Above Your Best. I hope you found the information in regards to goal-setting, the research, the strategies that I’ve set out to be helpful, either to yourself, or maybe there’s somebody you know that can use this. My mission truly is to help other people to rise above their best, not somebody else’s best, but their best, and I’m asking for your help on this. If you found this valuable, or know somebody else that will benefit from this, I’m gonna ask you to forward this on, or to make a comment, or to go on iTunes and put a rating on there.
Patrick: Everything that I’ve talked about today will be in the show notes at the end with the links with further access to my material. And again, I thank you, and I hope that this will help you to go out there and rise above your best.
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