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How to Finish What You Start: The Science of Goal Achievement

goal achievement with new social media app

Many people have dreams and aspirations, but not everyone manages to achieve them. Many people struggle to finish what they start, whether it is starting a new business, learning a new skill, or improving one's health. Why is that? What are the factors that influence goal achievement? And what are the strategies that can help people stay motivated and focused on their goals?

The Problem of Goal Failure

According to a study by the University of Minnesota, about 40% of people set goals for themselves, but less than half of those people actually follow through with them. This means that many people fail to achieve their goals, even when they have the intention and desire to do so.

One of the most common examples of goal failure is New Year's resolutions. According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology in 2011, people have a tendency to not follow through with their goals, even when those goals are important to them. The study found that approximately 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by the second week of February. Additionally, a study by the University of Scranton found that only 8% of people who make New Year's resolutions actually achieve them, while the remaining 92% fail to meet their goals.

Another example of goal failure is exercise. A study by the University of Bristol found that nearly half of people who start a new exercise program drop out within the first six months, and that lack of motivation and support were key factors in their decision to quit.

These examples suggest that a significant portion of people struggle to finish what they start, and that motivation and support are key factors in helping people stick to their goals and achieve success.

The Solution of Goal Setting

So, how can people overcome the problem of goal failure? How can they increase their motivation and support for their goals? One of the most effective solutions is goal setting.

Goal setting is the process of defining and pursuing specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives. Goal setting can help people clarify their vision, focus their efforts, and track their progress towards their desired outcomes.

According to a study by the University of Sheffield, setting specific and measurable goals can be a powerful motivator for individuals, as it provides them with a clear target to work towards. In addition, the study found that tracking progress towards those goals can also help individuals stay motivated and focused, as it allows them to see the progress they are making and provides them with a sense of accomplishment.

The study involved a meta-analysis of 138 different studies on goal setting, which included a total of 19,951 participants. The researchers found that individuals who set specific, challenging goals were more likely to achieve them than those who set vague or easy goals.

The study also found that feedback and support from others can further enhance the effectiveness of goal setting. For example, individuals who received feedback on their progress or who worked with a coach or mentor were more likely to achieve their goals than those who did not receive such support.

Another study by the University of California, San Diego found that people who publicly commit to a goal are more likely to follow through with it. The study found that people who shared their goals with others were more motivated to achieve them than those who kept their goals to themselves.

Overall, these studies suggest that setting specific and measurable goals, tracking progress, and receiving feedback and support from others can be effective strategies for staying motivated and achieving success.

The Benefits of Goal Achievement

Why is goal achievement important? What are the benefits of finishing what you start? According to a survey by Statista, the most common benefits that people report from achieving their goals are:

• Improved self-confidence

• Increased happiness

• Enhanced skills

• Better health

• Greater satisfaction

• More opportunities

• Higher income

These benefits show that goal achievement can have positive impacts on various aspects of one's life, such as personal, professional, social, and financial. Achieving one's goals can also lead to more fulfillment and meaning in life.

Finishing what you start is not always easy, but it is possible. By setting specific and measurable goals, tracking progress, and receiving feedback and support from others, one can increase their motivation and improve their chances of success. Achieving one's goals can also bring many benefits to one's life, such as improved self-confidence, increased happiness, enhanced skills, better health, greater satisfaction, more opportunities, and higher income.

Therefore, if you have a dream or aspiration that you want to pursue, do not give up on it. Set your goals, follow your plan, seek support from others, and celebrate your achievements. You can finish what you start if you put your mind and heart into it.


University of Minnesota

Journal of Consumer Psychology

University of Scranton

University of Bristol

University of Sheffield

University of California, San Diego

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