The one thing successful people need to do to achieve their personal goals revealed by study

It’s easier to do than you’d think

A new study claims to have uncovered the secret of success.

Lead researcher and psychologist Benjamin Harkin PHD, based at the University of Sheffield, concluded that the more often a person monitors their progress, the greater chance they have of acheiving their goals.

The study also found that the likelihood of succeeding is even higher when progress is recorded, or reported on publicly.

Mr Harkin, who compiled the research with a host of colleagues, conducted a meta-analysis of 138 studies comprising 19,951 participants that looked at the effectiveness of an intervention or treatment designed to prompt participants to monitor their goal progress.

He and his team primarily focused on personal goals related to health, such as quitting smoking, losing weight, lowering blood pressure or changing diet.

The full study, which can be read online here, found that participants who were prompted to monitor their progress on the tasks were more likely to achieve their goals. The success rate increased further with regular monitoring.  

"Our findings are of relevance to those interested in changing their behaviour and achieving their goals, as well as to those who want to help them, like weight loss programs, money advice agencies or sport coaches," Mr Harkin said.

"Prompting people to monitor their progress can help them to achieve their goals, but some methods of monitoring are better than others. Specifically, we would recommend that people be encouraged to record, report or make public what they find out as they assess their progress."

Researchers also found that prompting participants to monitor changes in behaviour had a significant effect on those behaviours, but not necessarily on other outcomes, even if they were related. For example, prompting people in a weight loss program to regularly watch what they eat may result in a change in diet, but not necessarily achieve the ultimate goal of losing weight.

"The implication of this finding is if you want to change your diet, then monitor what you are eating, if you want to lose weight, then focus on monitoring your weight," Mr Harkin said.

The study has also revealed that our chances of succeeding are increased even further if progress is physically recorded or publicly reported.

One example given by Mr Harkin suggested people who belong to weight-loss groups where they regularly weigh themselves in front of other members have a significantly greater chance of achieving their weight loss goal.