February 16, 2021

Being ok with 80%

It's totally normal not to reach 100% of your goals every time - and you should make a point of celebrating the successes you did have.

I hope the New Year is treating you well!

I have a number of posts that I am currently writing, including:

  • A post on my habits and goals/resolutions update;
  • Another post on consistency and being ok with the little slips that will happen as we try to change or form habits, and;
  • A post on how if we’re not seeing those little slips now and then, maybe we’re not changing or could push ourselves a little bit more out of our comfort zone.

There is still so much still to write and talk about - but then again writing more online is one of my goals for the year, so it's all related and part of a wider goals that I've set for myself.

But for now, I want to write a small piece on habits/goals and that point when you  don't quite hit 100% of your target you set - which is entirely normal and human - you should still celebrate the successes you did have.

None of this is new - people have been writing about habit formation for a LONG time, though our methods and understanding of how to stimulate change have thankfully improved!

What science says about change

We’ve all heard the term “You have to want to change”, but how well does the science underlying this statement actually stack up? Does wanting to change more mean you’ve a better chance of succeeding in your goal or changes?

Research and meta-analysis of this (essentially looking at all the studies on a subject and comparing/examining the overall pattern of the results) has suggested that a large behavioural intention (basically saying ‘I will do [x] or want to change [x]’) leads to a small-to-medium actual change. Essentially, your actual change will probably be smaller than the change you want.

4 out of 5 is great!

This sounds bad, but in reality, it’s a key point that’s not widely understood. Science says that it's great (and probably necessary) to really want and have the intention to change, but that won’t necessarily mean you’ll change as much as you want to.

That’s not a failure, it just means you’re human! And if you get 80% of the way to your goal, that might mean you lost 16 kilos instead of 20, smoke 2 cigarettes a day instead of 10, or ran 4 km instead of 5. Any of those should rightly be celebrated as a big success, and there will be noticeable changes for you in reaching any of those achievements (and they are achievements!).

Focus on what you did achieve rather than being hard or criticising yourself for what you didn’t. You can always try again, if that’s what you want. And if you’re happy with the changes, that’s great - and if you do hit your target/goal, even better - and it’s worth reflecting on why and what tools worked for you as you could apply the same techniques in other areas too.

As the saying goes - "shoot for the stars, you might not get there but you might just make the moon" that's definitely worth celebrating!