It had happened again. We had failed, again. Just over two years ago, we had tried to create a website builder specifically aimed at plumbers. But after working on it for over three months, we threw in the towel. Yet again we'd failed to launch anything at all.
Why were we so hopeless at launching?
Setting goals can be powerful. You set your mind on getting into shape each new year, and for the first few weeks you do quite well.
But then, your progress falls away, the habit doesn't stick and you go back to your old ways. Until next year.
How can we increase our chances of following through on our goals? Thankfully there's one relatively simple step you can take that's proven to significantly increase your chances of following through.
Sharing your goal with others is powerful. As soon as you tell someone you're going to do something, your inner desire to be true to your word kicks in. This inner drive then competes with your procrastinating, lazy, Homer Simpson drive, and oftentimes wins, leading you to override your old habits and achieve your goals.
The science backs this up:
"Prompting people to monitor their progress can help them to achieve their goals, but some methods of monitoring are better than others. Specifically, we would recommend that people be encouraged to record, report or make public what they find out as they assess their progress."
— Psychological Bulletin, Vol 142(2), Feb 2016, 198-229.
Earlier this week Nathan Bashaw shared a video where he talked about the power of regular, public goals and it really resonated with me. He explains how not only are regular, public goals beneficial for you, but they also help to set expectations for your audience.
If your audience knows that each week or month you’re going to deliver, they know you’re taking this seriously, and can decide whether they want to get involved. Much better than simply saying "sign up to hear when I’ve got something to say."
This is the key:
Regular goals are powerful, public goals are powerful and regular, public goals are super powerful.
As it turns out, this was a key lesson we had to learn.
One of the most important changes we made after our latest failure a couple years back was to get serious with deadlines. To stop messing around working on projects with no real end in sight, but instead to set short-term, regular, attainable deadlines for shipping.
We'd grown so tired of continually failing to launch that we were desperate. We knew this was a lesson that we had to ingrain deep into the core of how we worked, so rather than aim to launch one project in one month, we set ourselves the goal of launching six projects in six months.
On top of setting this goal we decided to share our progress, blogging regularly about how we were getting on.
As it turns out, these two ingredients, setting regular goals and sharing them, were the single biggest changes we made, and they have had a huge impact on our productivity since.
Since setting that goal we've launched 9 new projects, including a book that shares what we learnt from the whole process, nearly all of that whilst working full-time jobs.
We're now able to launch new side projects from scratch over a weekend when previously we'd spend months and have nothing to show for it at the end.
We’re nothing special. Others have done this with far greater success than us. Just look at Pieter Levels.
Levels set himself a goal to launch 12 startups in 12 months a few months before we set out on our goal. How'd he do? He's now on ~$30k MRR from these projects. Not bad if you ask me.
I can't speak for Levels, but I know for us, the combination of setting regular goals and sharing them publicly drastically increased our output.
Regular public goals have been super powerful.
Fast forward a few months and here I am, ready to take the next step. To step out with my latest, regular, public goal.
The goal this time? Writing. I want to write more. As well as this, Mike and I are also starting a new podcast in the next few weeks.
It's no good saying we'll podcast when we want – we have to set ourselves regular goals. The same goes with my writing.
That's why, for both these goals, we're committing to shipping weekly. Every week we'll ship a podcast episode. Every week, I'll ship a new blog post. Every week, we'll have people waiting to receive our weekly email in their inbox.
And here I am, telling you. Telling you we're about to do something we've never done before, and do it regularly. Pretty intimidated by that fact, as I write this on my train home from my day job. Scared we'll flop publicly and make a fool of ourselves.
But I know the power of regular public goals, so I'll harness it for all its worth. It's time to step out again.
Where do you want to be in six months time? What do you need to change in order to get there?
It's time to get serious. I challenge you: set at least one regular, attainable goal this week.
Write a blog post and share it. Or if that's too much, hit reply to this post and let me know.
I'd love to hear it.