Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Goal Setting Tips for Different Personalities

I recently read two articles on Psychology Today that show why the recommended methods for accomplishing goals do not take personality differences into account. The first article: Introverts, Extroverts, and Habit Change shows how goal-setting tips aimed at extroverts. The second article: Do You Hate to Hear "No," "Don't," or "Stop?"  is about people who are demand-resistance - who don't want to feel like they have to do things or that they can't do things. People like me.  Here are a few common examples of goal-setting tips:

Suggestion: If you have a goal to exercise regularly, you should get a workout buddy.
Reasons this doesn't work for everyone:
  1. Just as some people aren't always in the mood to exercise, some people aren't always in the mood to socialize.  For some of us, having to get together with a friend would be a reason to exercise less, because we're not always in a social mood.
  2. Not everyone is okay with another person pushing them to do something.  If a friend kept pressuring me to exercise when I didn't want to, we wouldn't stay friends very long.
Suggestion: If you have a goal to read more books, you should join a book club. 
Reasons this doesn't work for everyone:
  1. Reading is an innately solitary activity, and many of us like it because of that. A book club makes reading into a social activity, which is totally different.
  2. Reading is innately pressure-free; in a book club, you have to read what other people tell you to read on their schedule.
I'm not sure there are any goal-setting tips that work for everyone - what works varies based on the individual. The introversion article above gives goal-setting suggestions that work better for introverts. Here is my list of tips for other demand-resistant people:
  1. Understand that a goal can be anything. It doesn't have to be to get better grades or get a particular job. Your goal can be to save enough money to go on spring break, to not miss a single episode of your favorite TV show, or to spend more time having fun. Choose a goal that's what you really want, not what you're told to want.
  2. Write down your goal and why you want to accomplish it.  The "why" helps ensure that it's something you personally want to do.
  3. Understand the reason for your goal: if you want to practice singing every day to get a part in the school musical, and you do get a part, you may want to redirect your efforts to practicing for the musical instead of practicing general singing every day. 
  4. If you want to tell other people about your goal, choose those people wisely.  Don't share with anyone who will tell you what to do, who will put you down if you change your mind, or whom you would feel uncomfortable around if you don't accomplish your goal. 
  5. If you want to do something daily, fit it where it fits.  If you like to read when you wake up in the morning, maybe that's a good time to also write in your journal. If you like to play outside after dinner, maybe that's a good time to also practice for your baseball team tryout.  Work your goal into your schedule rather than working your schedule around your goal.
  6. Decide where this goal is on your priority list. Make sure you treat your goal as important as it is to you, but don't let it prevent you from doing things that matter more to you.
  7. Don't expose yourself to sources of information that make you feel pressured to do things a different way. Some people find it helpful to read about or talk to others who have accomplished similar goals, but if these sources make you feel pressured, don't use them.
  8. Try to make the day-to-day work on your goal more fun or appealing.
  9. Use implicit rewards rather than external rewards. An implicit reward is giving a great performance in the play because you practiced hard. An external reward is saying that if you practice every day for the week, you'll do something fun on the weekend. You could just as easily have fun on the weekend without practicing, and you don't want your goal standing in the way of something that you could normally have. The best goals are rewards in and of themselves when you accomplish them.
These tips may seem odd to the non-demand-resistant, but this is how I have accomplished all of my personal goals. The most advertised solution may not work best for everyone, but when you combine your goal with a little self-knowledge, you'll discover what works for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment