The power of goals

I never used to care how many steps I walked in a day.

Since I've had an iPhone that tracks my steps, and more recently, an Apple Watch, I've become obsessed with the number of steps I do.

I have to do 10,000 steps a day.

Having known friends who've owned Fitbits for years, I understood 10,000 steps to be a healthy yet obtainable goal to aim for every day. aside from that, I don't fully know whether 10,000 is life changing compared to 9,000 or 11,000, but it's a line in the sand to aim for. That's become my goal every day, along with filling all the Activity rings on my Watch.

In fact, with the Watch, it's become more than just a habit – I can't stand the idea of getting 95% of the way to my goal but not hitting it. Often when I get home in the evening I'll walk out again just to make sure my goals are all achieved.

"It's hard to improve what you aren't measuring"

In just a year, I've gone from not knowing how much I walk, to obsessing over every step and reaching higher every week. I feel a healthier person for it, and importantly, I feel in control. I feel far more aware of my overall fitness, and what I need to do to improve.

I wonder, though, how much I'd be striving to walk that extra few steps, or take the long route to work, if I didn't have a number to aim for. Goals, even if they're arbitrary to some extent, can be a fantastic motivator, and a great way to test what your limits are.

It's not just fitness. Aiming to get a new feature deployed by the end of the week, or aiming to send 10 emails to existing customers by the end of the day, or aiming to aiming to spend under £5 at lunch – these are all goals that you can force yourself to aim for, and the result might be a whole lot better than if those goals weren't there at all. At least you'll have something to measure – did you achieve it or not?

Next time you're setting out to do something – whether it be a new feature to ship, a new sales technique to try, or even just going out for a walk – try giving yourself a goal and see if it makes you do it better.

James Gill

CEO and co-founder of GoSquared.

London, UK