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Is the “do your best” approach undermining your sustainable personal development goals?


It is within human nature to strive for achievement and satisfaction, although how can one reach that point effectively? Is there truly one superior way to goal setting?


We are constantly encouraged in today’s society to “do our best” however research is beginning to reveal that we improve task performance when our goals are specific and sufficiently challenging.


The approach of trying your best is indeed a behavior of a hard worker, however this approach alone may be impeding on performance. The “do your best” approach may be more effective when applied in combination with setting task-specific goals.


As a collective result across laboratory and field studies in the topic of goal setting, 90% of studies showed that forming specific and challenging goals led to higher performance in comparison to easy goals, “do your best” goals, or no goals. In other words, identifying targeted areas for improvement can be associated with more energy and effort spent on producing a quality outcome.

The theory of goal setting and task performance focuses on the underlying principle of clarity. This might involve setting a definite timeline in place, rather than thinking of an assignment to have one distant and unapproachable deadline. You can create clarity and structure by breaking down a large task into smaller and more manageable portions. For example, when you receive an essay deadline, assign one day to complete your introduction, one to complete your first paragraph, conclusion, and so on. In this way, you avoid being left with the whole essay to finish the night before it’s due.


Another element to the theory of goal setting is challenge. This means that your goal should achieve a level of complexity or difficulty to create more motivation and drive to meet that goal. In other words, you have more to work towards. With this, you are likely to feel that much more accomplished once you’ve completed it. Sometimes this element can be lost when solely approaching your task with the “try your best” mindset.


You can easily apply this approach on the StudyBuddy planner app. Start with breaking your assignment into parts. Then, label a task to each portion of the assignment. Include a detailed description of the task when you create it. When it comes time to tick off the task as complete, ensure you’ve met all points of the description you set for yourself. The ability to check off the smaller tasks is motivation to do more – they act as little victories along the way to the bigger achievement. This is also likely to keep you on track leading up to the deadline.

To make even stronger use of your study time leading up to the deadline, begin your work session with a planned duration for what you want to finish. Using the StudyBuddy Timer, you can set a duration to your task, and you will be notified when the time is up. This can act as motivation to be effective in the given time. You may also be less likely to take breaks or become distracted with other tasks, as you have a time frame that you are aiming to stay within.


Always giving your best effort is a positive and constructive way to look at performance. However, we may increase productivity and efficiency when we implement such a mindset

alongside task-specific goals. StudyBuddy planner makes this approach simple to establish for yourself. This week, challenge yourself to consider how you goal set. Reflect on the times you’ve put out your best work. How did you get yourself there and how did you feel along the way?


Happy studying!

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