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Bend Time and Reach Your Goals with a Story

New Year’s Resolutions are worthless. They distract. They make you feel bad about yourself, and it’s the accomplishment of the goal that matters. Fortunately, if you develop a compelling narrative to accompany them, perhaps 2015 will be the year that your resolutions will become reality.

A wealth of research conducted over the last few years suggests that the difference between success and failure, in all undertakings, may lay in a few simple psychological tricks you can play on yourself.

For example, your understanding and perception of time plays an important role in your ability to meet deadlines and complete a task within a given time frame. A recent article in the New York Times details a study conducted in India where:

“…researchers asked two groups of farmers…to set up a bank account and accumulate a certain amount of money by a deadline, offering extra money as an incentive. One group was approached in June, with a deadline of December that year. The second group was approached in July with a deadline of January the next year.

The farmers in the first group were more likely to set up an account immediately, even though both groups had the same amount of time. That’s because the deadline was in the same year as the assignment and therefore seemed more like the present.”

This is perhaps why we’ve adopted the start of a new year as the time to begin making improvements or to tackle new challenges – we have a very clear awareness of time when an entire 365 days stretches out before us, like a field of freshly fallen snow, and are better able or prepared to use that space as a window for change.

After your time frame is decided and defined, next up is a goal, where wording and perception is once again important. Studies suggest that having a clear goal in mind vastly increases your chances of success in any endeavor. Above all, make sure it’s measurable! Vague proclamations like “work out more” or “drink less” are almost doomed from the outset because there is no benchmark against which you can chart your progress.

Your expectations also matter. A lot. Being realistic in your expectations in reaching your goals will also significantly increase your odds of victory. Understanding that your dreams and expectations don’t exist in a vacuum, that you’re beholden to forces of nature, like a flat tire or inclement weather, will make the inevitable setbacks you encounter seem less severe and keep you on track.

With these tips in mind, you can be sure that you won’t be among the 92% of people who give up on their new years resolutions.

What’s most interesting about these lessons to the team here at Woden is that they all share a common theme that’s near and dear to our hearts: the importance of storytelling to success.

The tips outlined above amount to little more than simple shifts in narrative.  Clearly understanding the amount of time you have to complete a task leads a greater sense of urgency and a greater likelihood you’ll complete it on time. Changing the decidedly vague goal of “work out more” to a more specific  “shed 10 pounds by June” dramatically improves your chances of realizing your same goal. And instead of beating yourself because you missed a day of training, forgiving yourself, in line with realistic expectations, almost paradoxically suggests that you’ll stick with the program over the long run.

At their core, these strategies are all stories, and stories can be very powerful when properly understood and deployed.

Woden is a team of experts dedicated to helping your business write its story. Whatever your corporate goals for 2015 may be, they are still subject to the same forces that govern everyone’s new year’s resolutions: clarity, purpose, and expectations are all paramount.

Unfortunately, we can’t actually alter the laws of physics and bend time (yet), but if you’re interested in learning more about how Woden help you write a story that can markedly shift perceptions and deliver results, give us a call.