The value of realistic goals (with data)

(I guess I'm one of those productivity gurus now.... sorry)

I accidentally created some data that seems to have broad implications:


If you set your goals even a little bit too high, then your performance will be considerably worse.


I've started using my iPhone to track how many steps I do each day.

When I first started tracking my steps, I set the goal at 10,000 steps per day (10K) because that's what I'd heard was good. I'd make it most days but fail on other days. Sometimes I'd smash way past 10k, then crash really low for a day or two. In 3 weeks, I missed my goal on about a quarter of days. It felt quite frustrating.

I took a step back (pun intended) and decided to lower my goal to just 8,000 steps per day (8K). This was still a big increase from the low activity levels I'd exhibited before tracking my steps. (Working from home: hard to keep active!)

steps streak

With this lower goal of 8K per day, I've now managed to achieve my goal every day for 42 days, also maintained a much higher weekly average than I had during the 10k days, and I feel a lot better about it. I might increase the goal soon but would only increase it to 8,500. If I manage that consistently I'll bump it up again: but the increases will be slow and steady and always achievable.


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(By the way, I read every comment and often respond.)

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