**This post summarizes months of research on what goal setting methods actually work, it is my goal to help everyone use these techniques in an easy and fun way**

Which of your big goals have been on the to-do list forever?

So often it’s those goals that matter to us most that seem just out of reach.

If we want something really bad AND know the steps required to attain it, why do we still fail to do so?

The answer is simple: we haven’t been using the right tools.

Behavioral scientists have been trying to figure out our psychological relationship with goals for decades, and they’ve come up with some very actionable conclusions.

It’s been proven that you can quadruple your chances of success with the goal hacks listed below (in order of least to most powerful).

1) Write it down

The simple act of physically writing down what you want to achieve significantly raises your chances of success.

One study contacted thousands of people who needed flu shots. One group was asked to write down a plan specifying the date and time they would visit a clinic while the control group was reminded but not asked to write down a plan.

13% more of those who were asked to write it down went to get shots than those who were simply reminded.

That’s a sizable increase for just 5 seconds of writing.

2) Track it

Track your goal. Record your progress daily or even multiple times daily. The ‘Don’t Break The Chain‘ is the best method for this.

A study on weight-loss found that those who regularly weighed themselves lost 3 BMI units more on average than those who did not weigh regularly. Another study found daily weighers to lose 33lbs more on average than non-weighers over a 2-year period.

3) Wager cash on your success

Money is a big motivator. Make a bet with a friend that you will pay them X dollars if you don’t succeed in X time. This is called a ‘pre-commitment’.

One study measured weight loss for different groups:

(1) Control: Each participant received information about weight loss

(2) Individual Incentive: Each participant received $100 for each month in which they reached a weight loss target.

The results? The incentivized group lost 3 times as much weight as the control group.

4) Add some social pressure and competition

Good ol’ fashion peer pressure is even more effective than cash. Tell your friends about your goal (and when you achieve it!). Better yet, get them to join you in the quest and keep each other accountable.

In that last study, there was also a third group that received a more interesting incentive. The participants were put into teams of 5, meaning there was a collective $500 in the pot each month. The cash was distributed amongst those who met their weight goals for the month.  If only one person met the goal, he/she would get all $500.

This group lost nearly twice as much weight as the individual incentive group, and more than 4 times as much as the group with no incentives.

5) Get expert support

Find a mentor who has had success with your goal.

One study paired patients with poorly controlled diabetes with other patients who had gained mastery over their diabetes. The glycemic control improvements achieved by the mentees were even larger than those produced by many leading diabetes drugs.

How do you easily combine all of these and make it fun?

It is simple, just:

  • intelligently tracks your goals (SMART)
  • actually prove your progress to someone
  • wager and win cash on your success (pre-commitment!)
  • hook up with small groups for accountability (join groups, or create your own.)
  • Find an expert (this doesn’t have to be a olympic gold medal winner, just someone who has done it before.)

What are your goals for next year?
Make it publicly known and write them down in the comments!