Most of us like to set goals. But our goal is rarely to love us.

Setting goals is easy. The steps needed to reach that goal are much harder to initiate (much less sticky).

Especially if you don’t mind your personality.

Consider fitness and weight loss, which are common goals for many people. Setting goals is easy.

People use different strategies because it is difficult to stick to the process. Some people use their accountability peers to get them back on track. Others take virtual group classes to stay motivated. Others use apps, notifications, and wearables. Some people turn exercise and weight loss into competition.

Everything is a valid strategy.

However, according to a study published earlier this year in the journal PLOS ONE, your personality type has a big impact on how well a particular strategy works for you.

In this study, we have divided personality types into three basic groups.

  • Extroverted and inspired.
  • It is social and passive.
  • There is little motivation and there is risk.

Interestingly, a competition-based strategy (basically a leaderboard that records everyone’s activities) was better at promoting physical activity than cooperation and social support for all three groups.

Yes: A little competition is actually healthy, regardless of your personality (and obviously how competitive you might think).

But there it is. If you are extroverted and motivated at first, the competition will bring out the best in you, but only until the competition is over. When it’s done, you’re beyond that.

When social and passive, it performs best in programs that involve competition, collaboration, and support. And even after the competition is over, you’re more likely to stick to it.

(You might be wondering, but the combination of strategies doesn’t work for motivated, risky participants. According to That also makes sense. If you’re not interested in that, tools, incentives, social support, and competition don’t add up. At least a little of it is needed.)
The last sentence is important. Different phenotypes (personalities) have very different responses. This is a fact that is often forgotten when fitness and weight loss goals are involved. And more importantly, most goals are relevant.

I’ll take an email. Let’s say your goal is to make 10 cold calls a day. If you are outgoing and motivated, find a way to make it competitive both inside and outside your business. (You can always challenge someone else to set your goals and keep track of each other’s progress.)

Keep in mind, however, that once the competition is over, your motivation can drop quickly. So start a new competition with the same goal or any other goal that you want to achieve.

If you’re not motivated and not an extrovert, find a way to make your goals competitive. You can also do collaborations and social support. In your “contest” see how they feel. Find ways to work together and help each other. Compete, but add some friendly element to the competition.

And if you have no motivation to reach your goal, don’t force it. Find a goal you care about.

The important thing is to always consider your personality first. Like most people, it’s not a strategy and a tool. Like the hottest new trends. Or the latest productivity trends. Or a cool new app.

If you’re outgoing and motivated, the tools to build a community to foster social support can be of little help. But not as much as the strategy allows you to compete.