Last week, we covered why goal setting matters more than ever. Hopefully that resonates even if it comes with a rose-tinted view of how goals work. The sobering fact is this: reaching any worthwhile goal is HARD. No matter what, you are going to face unfamiliar landscapes, obstacles large and small, and will suffer setbacks large and small as well.
We’re building WeAchieve to provide the best possible ways to overcome these challenges. Just because it is hard to achieve a goal doesn’t mean nothing can help. Indeed, it’s quite the opposite: certain approaches can lead to dramatic improvements. WeAchieve seeks to help people find the ways that work for them to avoid some of the common challenges or pitfalls that people tend to fall into.
By most estimates, personal goal setters are a minority. Recent data suggests 15-20% of people regularly set goals for themselves outside of a work context. As with most social science, there are some fantastic claims around the power of goal setting, many of which are probably not reproducible. Indeed, two of the most common studies you’ll hear about have been debunked as urban legends. “Set goals and you’ll double your income, be happy, wise, and live happily ever after,” may sound good, but we all know that isn’t how it works. Realistically, we know there’s likely some bias in terms of the personality and motivations of goal setters outperforming the other 80%.
Setting goals has gotten a bad rap in recent years. Much of this is due to evolutions in corporate culture. In our workplaces, many companies have abused the concept of goal setting and KPIs by making them too narrow and too rigid. As a result, employees are forced to optimize to a single number often at the expense of better answers for the employee and the company.
That’s unfortunate, because goal planning can be really fun and empowering when it comes to your own life. Such goals come without all the baggage of a corporate environment, and many studies have confirmed what we should all intuit: setting goals is the best way to get things done and improve your long-term happiness. Continue reading “10 Ways to Set Better Goals”
In my initial post describing WeAchieve, I wrote a bit about what we’re building, and as part of that outlined three reasons why we’re going after personal productivity market. The gist of it is this: we see the start of a trend pushing back against distraction technologies and moving toward real-world experiences and outcomes. As we do that, the technologies that exist to help people with have been under-invested in, and are under-developed as a result.
The Psychological State
A couple weeks ago, we covered a bit about why productivity is broken, and how the ad-driven economy has created an unsustainable spiral of click-bait and sensationalism in the news, addiction-creating algorithms on social media, and games specifically-engineered to keep you playing.
Entertainment is good in the right quantity, but we are starting to see deep dissatisfaction spread at both personal and societal levels. On a personal level, depression and suicide rates are increasing. Societally, we’re seeing more and more unrest and anger as youth unemployment rises across the globe and more and more people don’t feel that the jobs that they do have provide them with meaning.
While many causes contributed to these, our contention for a major one is this: a world increasingly driven by addicting entertainment ultimately robs people of the time needed to build real-world lives, real-world relationships, and real-world accomplishments. We believe this dynamic is responsible for a lot of the deep-seated unhappiness and frustration that we’re seeing in the world.
Solving this challenge — or more realistically to make a dent in it — is the mission of WeAchieve, and our product is designed to do this person by person or small group by small group.
We do this by providing a framework, curated content, and a tracking system for our users that helps them decide what matters to them, set goals, and hold themselves accountable.
Of course, this concept isn’t exactly new: setting goals, writing them down, and tracking your progress has been a known tactic and experimentally-proven to be effective. And naturally, many software platforms have been created to try to help this process happen. And yet, nothing has really caught hold. In doing our market research, we’ve uncovered several problems with the status quo that cause them to be ineffective, which has guided the vision for what WeAchieve is and what it will become.
The Three Opportunities: Flexibility, Universality, and Actionability
The existing market for goal planning tools — and many other related products — fall short on three key dimensions. Today we’ll cover what they are, and next week we’ll cover what WeAchieve is doing to address these challenges.
Flexibility— existing software to help you set goals are focused on specific types of goals for specific types of things. Many of them focus on forming habits, and revolve around creating “daily streaks.” This works well in some cases and for some people, sure. But it fails if you want to track how much of something you do and things that don’t need to follow a set period — e.g. daily, weekly, or monthly. For the modern human, this most things that you do.
Universality — Perhaps more importantly, personal productivity platforms are all quite siloed. Do you need a note-taking app? Use EverNote. Do you need a to do list? Use ToDoist. Do you need a Habit Tracker? Coach.me. Do you want to set fitness goals? Use a fitness app. Do you want to do a friendly competition? Use a different fitness app. As each company has tried to do one thing really well, they’ve missed the mark on a holistic view of consumers’ real need. People don’t just need a to do list, they need a system to organize their life. A to do list is necessary but not sufficient in order to reach this, and the same can be said for each of the other categories mentioned.
Actionability — The last dimension in which the current market struggles is how to convert data into motivation for the consumer. In part because existing tools are relatively inflexible, the visualizations and ways in which they motivate people are also very simplistic and largely ineffective as a result. For example, apps that try to help you to walk more commonly rely upon giving you a 10,000 step-per-day goal. As with streaks, this is maybe motivating in some cases. But there are many other ways to translate even a simple metric like step count into motivators for the user, and these opportunities scale exponentially when looking at activities with many metrics such as running. But even with running, most apps rely on a basic: run more than X miles per timeframe Y. Without breaking into next week’s subject, let’s just say that there’s so much more that can be done there.