Last year I was invited to join a ‘goal-setting group’ of seven people with their own businesses. The idea, new to me, was a simple one – we meet up for one day each quarter and get an hour each to talk through our goals for the next quarter, our progress, and any obstacles.

So far I’ve been to one meeting, and it was great. I had only met one of the participants before (the guy who invited me) but the other participants turned out to be smart, funny, and non-judgemental. Even though I had not put much time at all into preparation, I came away much clearer about what I wanted.

Obviously it’s good to be reminded that you are not the only one facing challenges with your goals, and that there are others in the same boat, especially when, like me, you work for yourself. Beyond that, though, talking through my goals out loud to other people acted as a reality check – it brought home very powerfully that I didn’t have enough time to achieve all of my goals by the time I thought I wanted them. It forced me to prioritise my most important goal (getting my book written) and put the rest on the back burner.

Getting together in a group like this and publicly declaring your goals taps into two of the powerful principles identified by psychologist Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: Science and Practice: consistency and commitment.

When you identify yourself as having a particular role, or as being a particular kind of person (in this case, a ‘goal achiever’) it makes you much more likely to act in a way that is consistent with that role (actually taking action to achieve the goals). Cialdini found that the human mind strives for consistency.

Also, when you make a public commitment to something, you are far more likely to actually do it than if you just make a vague promise to yourself.

Two more great things about a goal-setting group: one is the cost – absolutely free (apart from the time cost of one day a quarter), and the other is the opportunity that the shared purpose gives you to get to know some other people in far more depth than a networking event would give you. Apart from the mutual support, at least two of the people in the group may be helpful to my business at some point in the future, either as employers or suppliers.

So in summary:

1. To make it easier to achieve your goals, get together with a few other people (ideal numbers 5-7) and form a goal-setting group

2. Beyond mutual support, sharing your goals with others gives you a powerful reality check

3. You also harness two powerful psychological forces: consistency and commitment

4. Coming together for a common purpose is a great way of ‘depth networking’

Bonus tip:

Use the web to stay in touch with your group in between meetings. There are many free ‘social networking’ platforms on the web. We used Yahoo Groups because the ads are not too intrusive, you can set up a private group, it allows you to post files and set up a meeting calendar, and it can notify you by email whenever someone posts a new message.

Get together and set up a goal-setting group

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