Throughout building a goal tracking platform, one question among many was “what timeframe(s) should we support?” Our initial bias was to include all of them: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and custom. This seemed like a good idea at the start: people obviously want to do some things every day and other things are New Year Resolutions.
While it is true that the timeframes can differ, we’ve discovered a clear winner when it comes to what timeframe gives you the best chance of sticking with a goal: weekly!
What Factors Influence Timeframe Choice?
The key dimensions that come into play are actionability (how much a goal forces you to act at a given point in time), and flexibility (how much a goal let’s you adjust your schedule).
Daily Goals are the most actionable but the least flexible. This is great if you are trying to keep yourself on a strict regiment. However, they also are rigid and can easily be dropped once they conflict with your schedule.
Taken to another extreme, yearly goals are the least actionable and most flexible. There’s never a set reason to act on a yearly goal in a given day, but they do allow you to move around time and find an ideal spot to work toward a given goal.
On each extreme though, performance drops off. Daily goals are ignored once they are seen as a nuisance or too much of a burden. Meanwhile, yearly goals are notoriously hard to hit (only 8% of people hit their New Year Resolutions) because they are too flexible and allow people to procrastinate until the goal is virtually impossible.
So the balance is somewhere in-between. From our experience, we’ve found monthly goals to obviously work better than yearly, but still create issues with procrastination. Weekly targets, on the other hand, find a good balance. They give you just enough flexibility to complete a goal, but still enough urgency to avoid putting the task off.
An Example: I Want To Read More
Setting a goal when it comes to reading is a good example. Say you are trying to read more, you could create any of the following goals:
- Read 10 minutes per day
- Read 1 hour per week
- Read 1 book per month
- Read 12 books this year
All of these are roughly equivalent in terms of time commitment, but they will yield drastically different reading patterns. But in most cases, reading 1 hour per week will yield the most overall reading at the end of the year.
Aside from being more actionable than the 1 book per month target, it is also more achievable! Put another way, it looks easier than reading 1 book per month even if it is actually slightly more restrictive. And while the 10 minute per day goal looks quite achievable, it’s so rigid that most people will fall off the horse and disregard it, which also doesn’t feel like a big deal because it’s “just 10 minutes.”
Now we did say most cases – and the caveat to this is that the answer can be dependent on what stage you are at with a habit or skill. If you are just getting started, daily goals may be the way to go. They do feel the most achievable and can provide instant positive feedback. On the other hand, if you have already really established something as a routine, monthly or yearly targets work since you’ll already be doing it. You just need a good target!
That said, the vast majority of cases fall in that in-between state where weekly works best. Daily goals can easily be translated to weekly ones, and monthly ones can be broken down into weekly goals as well with a little extra prep work. And there’s big benefits to keeping all your goals on the same schedule, which we’ll cover in a later post.
So our recommendation to you would be to get some weekly goals going today! Pick 3-5 activities you want to improve at, and set modest weekly targets for each of them. We promise it’ll be more effective than any New Year Resolution you’ve ever set!
Want to set a weekly goal now? Do so on our iOS app or on our web platform. Find both at www.weachieve.io!