How to Achieve Your Goals, in 59 Seconds

This is taken from 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman, a book that wants to make your life better – in 59 seconds or less. It is all based on scientific research. If you like that sort of thing.

4 Key Techniques for Motivation

  1. Have the right kind of plan.
  2. Tell friends and family about your plan.
  3. Focus on the benefits of your achievement.
  4. Reward yourself each step of the way.

The Right Kind of Plan

Wiseman’s got the plan, don’t worry.

1. Define your goal:

My overall goal is to…

2. Create a step-by-step plan:

Break overall goal into five steps, each with a goal that is concrete, measurable, realistic and time-based, e.g.:

Step 1:
  • My first sub-goal is to… write a blog post.
  • I believe that I can achieve this goal because… I’ve done the research and I’ve done this sort of thing before.
  • To achieve this sub-goal, I will… sit at the computer and write 500 words on how to achieve your goals.
  • This will be achieved by… today!
  • My reward for achieving this will be, er…a pack of Marylands?

3. What are the benefits of achieving your overall goal?

  • List three important benefits, focusing on how much better life will be for you and those around you.
  • Focus on the benefits of your desired future, rather than escaping the negatives of your present situation.

4. Go public.

Who are you going to tell about your goals and sub-goals? Maybe you could publish them on a blog or display them in your office or home?

1 Simple Way to Beat Procrastination

Start work on something for just a few minutes and your brain will want to complete it. Anyone can do anything for a few minutes. Just start.

Use Doublethink to Achieve Your Goals

Thinking about benefits and setbacks together will motivate you to achieve and help you persevere in the face of difficulties. Answer these questions about your goals to get the best motivation.

1. What is your goal?

2. Potential benefits and setbacks

  1. Write down one word that reflects an important way your life would be better if you achieve your goal.
  2. Write down one word that reflects a significant barrier standing in the way of you achieving your goal.
  3. Write down a second benefit.
  4. Write down another significant barrier.

3. Elaboration

  • Elaborate on how the two benefits identified above will affect your life positively.
  • Elaborate how the two obstacles identified above will hinder your achievement – and outline the steps you would take to deal with them.

How to Achieve Your Life Goals

  • Write your own eulogy (or obituary) in the third person (David Charles will be remembered as full of fast phrase, pace of prosody and poise of poesy…) to reveal your real life goals (that was a dumb example, by the way). What would you like people to say about you when you die? What would you like to have achieved?
  • Those who visualise themselves as others see them are 20% more successful than those adopting a first person view. Apparently. How do they find these things out? that’s what I want to know.

How to Decide, In 59 Seconds

This is taken from 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman, a book that wants to make your life better – in 59 seconds or less. It is all based on scientific research. If you like that sort of thing.

Beware of Deciding in Groups!

Groups tend to:

  • Polarise an individual’s opinion and make them take more extreme decisions.
  • Be more dogmatic than individuals.
  • Be better at justifying irrational actions than individuals.
  • Be more likely to see their actions as highly moral than individuals.
  • Stereotype outsiders.

Furthermore, when strong-willed people lead group discussions they can:

  • Pressurise others into conforming.
  • Encourage self-censorship.
  • Create an illusion of unanimity.

How to Beat the Salesman

You can use these mind tricks for good or evil. Use them to persuade, or use knowledge of them to avoid the dodgy sales tactics of others.

  • Salesmen will often use ‘That’s not all…’ techniques, i.e. give something away for free, offer discounts or bargains. There’s nothing wrong with that – if you already want to make the purchase.
  • Another technique (often used, I’ve found, by people outside train stations incongruously desperate to call home…) is ‘Disrupt, then re-frame’ – in other words surprise a person and then make a request. Don’t ask for a quid, ask for 97 pennies. The unusual request will break through the other person’s automatic negative response.
  • Another good one is to ask for a small favour and then build up to the big favour/sale – get your foot in the door.
  • Or to start with a ridiculously big ask and so that your ‘reasonable’ offer looks like good value.

Use the Unconscious to Unlock Complex Decisions

When making straight-forward decisions, stick with the concious mind. Just think about the pros and cons and assess the situation in a rational, level-headed way.

But for more complex choices, try giving your concious mind a rest by following this simple technique.

  1. Outline exactly what decisions you have to make.
  2. Work through anagrams for five minutes. This occupies your conscious mind.
  3. Now without thinking too much, write down your decision. Hopefully your unconscious mind has come up with something!

When You Make the Wrong Decision…

Regret is surely one of the most painful emotions known to humankind. ‘No regrets’ is a great thing to strive for, but there’s nothing more human than making bad decisions. Don’t let it get to you by using these tips.

  • People tend to regret things that they don’t do, rather than things that they do do.
  • Prevent regret in the first place by adopting a ‘will do’ attitude. Say YES.
  • If you do regret something, see if you can correct it. Write a letter, mend that broken relationships, go back to college, etc.. Use regret as a wake up call for motivation.
  • If it isn’t possible to make things better, don’t dwell on ‘What might have been…’ Instead, spend time thinking about three benefits of your current situation and three negative consequences that could have occurred had you taken the decision that’s causing the regret.


Good judgement is at the heart of good decision-making. So what happens when you are faced with a judgement call?

How to Beat Liars

  • Forget the clichés about liars staring to the left or whatever. It’s not true.
  • Liars tend to become static, they gesture less. 
  • They speak in less detail and increase their pauses.
  • They avoid the words ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ and increase their use of ‘him’ and ‘her,’ rather than using specific names. 
  • If someone becomes suddenly evasive, ask for a straight answer.
  • Try to establish an honest baseline for the person by asking simple questions that will get an honest reply.
  • Get them to email you their story. People lie in 14% of emails, 21% texts, 27% face-to-face, 37% phonecalls. Take note of that one yourself: emails can come back to haunt you!

How to Judge Time Accurately

We are very bad at estimating how long things will take. Improve your estimates by:

  • Comparing how long a similar project took before.
  • Unpacking the activity into its constituent parts and estimate how long each one will take individually.

How to Attract the Opposite Sex, in 59 Seconds

This is taken from 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman, a book that wants to make your life better – in 59 seconds or less. It is all based on scientific research. If you like that sort of thing.

How to Attract 101

The best strategy is to give the impression that, in general, you are hard to get, but you are really enthusiastic about your date: ‘I am choosy, and I choose you.’

The Touch on the Arm

This is really powerful, apparently. It will make people help you out. It also helps women find men attractive.

  • Deliver at the same time as a compliment or request.
  • Try the briefest of touches to the upper arm.
  • Be careful. Some people don’t like to be touched – and a millimetre the wrong way could get you a slap. 

Loving Styles

Psychological similarity is a good indicator of long term satisfaction in relationships. There are three basic types.


  • Very strong ideas about the type of physical and psychological traits they desire in a partner.
  • Frequently experience love at first sight.
  • Engage in emotionally intense relationships, which falter as the love of their life changes.
  • Extroverted and giving, they feel secure in their relationships and get emotionally close to others.
  • Become infatuated during the initial stages and, in this stage, would not dream of infidelity.


  • Value trust over lust.
  • Slowly develop a network of friends in the hope that affection will transform into deep commitment.
  • Intensely loyal and supportive. Only form one or two relationships in their lives.
  • Altruistic and trusting, often brought up in large families. Comfortable depending on others for support.


  • No ideal type in mind, they play the field.
  • Strive for novelty and thrills. Uncomfortable with commitment, many short-term relationships.
  • Enjoy the thrill of the chase, display little loyalty.
  • More neurotic and self-conscious than most, they have little sympathy for the feelings of others.
  • Fear of being abandoned by a partner – a situation they avoid by not getting too close to anyone.

Speed Dating Tips

  • Think of questions that get the people talking in creative, fun, interesting ways.
  • Mimic the way they sit, hands, speech patterns, facial expressions.
  • Only select the few people you had genuine chemistry with.

Sex and Sport

  • Women like men who do sports that show bravery – rock climbing, football, hiking. Not aerobics.
  • Men like women who keep fit – aerobics, yoga, gym. Not rugby or body-building.
  • No one likes anyone who plays golf.

The Perfect Date

  • Do something that will make the heart race. Thriller films, theme parks, cycle rides. Dumb humans easily confuse the fast heart rate of fear with the fast heart rate of attraction.
  • Play the sharing game to build intimacy. Ask questions like:
  1. Imagine you are hosting the perfect dinner party – who would you invite?
  2. When did you last talk to yourself?
  3. Name two ways you consider yourself lucky?
  4. Name something you have always wanted to do, and explain why you haven’t done it yet.
  5. Imagine your house has caught fire and you can only save one thing – what would it be?
  6. Describe one of the happiest days of your life.
  7. Imagine you are going to become close friends with your date. What is the most important thing for them to know about you?
  8. Tell your date two things you really like about him/her.
  9. Describe one of the most embarrassing moments in your life.
  10. Describe a personal problem and ask your date’s advice on how to solve it.

Quick tips for dating

  • Women rate men as more attractive if they see other women having a good time in his company.
  • Hungry men show a preference for fat women.
  • Disagree, then agree. Play a little hard to get for the first hour, then turn on the charm later. Talk about things you both dislike, rather than like.
  • Smiles crinkle around the eyes, not just the mouth. The most attractive ones are slow and involve a slight tilt towards the other person.
  • Love – leaning towards each other. Lust – licking lips.
  • Previous partners: Women like men to have two. Men like women to have had four.

How to be Creative, in 59 Seconds

This is taken from 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman, a book that wants to make your life better – in 59 seconds or less. It is all based on scientific research. If you like that sort of thing.

Engage the Unconscious Mind

  1. Address a problem. What is it you are trying to solve?
  2. Do a difficult crossword, word-search, sudoku – or any other task that fully occupies your conscious mind.
  3. Now, without thinking too much about it, jot down the various thoughts and possible solutions that come to you.

The Four Ps of Creativity

Classic self-help. The X-number of Y.


  1. Work feverishly on the problem.
  2. Then do something completely different: Feed your mind with new things: museum, art gallery, flick through newspapers, go on a train journey.
  3. Leave it to your brain to make the connections.

Put plants and flowers in a room. Green is good. Don’t fake it though – pictures won’t do. Avoid red. Prime people with green objects if you want them to be creative.


  • Imagine how a child/idiot/friend/artist/accountant would solve the problem.
  • Think about analogous situations by applying the ‘is like’ rule – how is the problem solved by the analogous entity? Can this be applied to your situation?
  • Think about doing the exact opposite to what you are doing now.


Have some fun. Being too serious constrains your brain. Take a 15 minute fun break.


  • Don’t go onto automatic pilot. Become more curious.
  • Ask yourself an interesting question each week. Try to find out the answers. Not just by using Wikipedia.

Quick Creativity Tips

Richard Wiseman has some quick tips for us. How kind *pulls desk towards himself*.

Creative Brainstorming

  • Mix groups of people up to be more creative in brainstorming sessions. Put different kinds of people together, not bunches of friends.
  • Or better, allow people to be creative alone. It makes them responsible alone for coming up with good ideas. Quality and quantity of ideas improve when alone in most cases.

The Power of Art

  • Spend a few moments describing a typical musician or artist. List their behaviours, lifestyle and appearance.
  • Look at modern art to help produce original ideas.

Creative Body Language

  • When trying to be creative, pull the table towards you. Pulling things means you are comfortable with them and comfortable means creative.
  • Cross your arms to help perseverance in the face of failure.
  • Lie down to use your locus coeruleus against rigid thinking.

How to be Happy, in 59 Seconds

This is taken from 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman, a book that wants to make your life better – in 59 seconds or less. It is all based on scientific research. If you like that sort of thing.

Here is what he suggests to make you happy.

Write a diary

  • Don’t suppress negative thoughts – they will only come back stronger. So write about them.
  • List 3-5 things to be thankful for once a week. Appreciate things that go unnoticed.
  • Describe a wonderful experience you have had in life.
  • Describe a great future; realistic, but in which you have worked hard and achieved your goals. It won’t help you achieve it, but it will make you smile.
  • Write a short letter to a person you are thankful for. Imagine you have only one opportunity to tell them. Describe what they mean to you and the impact they have had on your life.
  • Think back over the past week and make a note of three things that went really well for you (this can be trivial, like stroking the cat and getting a purr in return).

Spending and Giving

  • Buy experiences, not goods. Experiences tend to be social and the memory of them will improve with age, whereas goods tend to look worse with time. Like my bike.
  • We grow accustomed to changes in our circumstances. So riches will become quotidian.
  • Giving will make you happier than receiving gifts.
  • For a cheaper boost, carry out five non-financial acts of kindness on a single day. Don’t dilute the effect by spreading them out over the week.

Act happy

50% of  your happiness is genetic, 10% due to general circumstances, but 40% is governed by your day-to-day behaviour.

  • Smile for 15-30 seconds. Imagine a situation that would make you smile to make it convincing.
  • Sit up in your chair – posture is important.
  • Swing your arms like a kid (a human child, not a goat).
  • Add a spring in your step.
  • Use more expressive, excitable hand gestures in conversation.
  • Nod your head when others speak.
  • Wear more colourful clothing.
  • Use a greater frequency of positive words and a lower frequency of self-references in your conversation. The film was incredible! Not average.
  • Use a larger variation in the pitch of your voice. Squeak and growl.
  • Speak slightly faster.
  • Arm yourself with a significantly firmer handshake.

Intentional change

  • Intentional change (i.e. pursuing a goal, starting a new hobby) will make you happier than circumstantial change (i.e. a change in circumstances – getting a new car, house etc..).
  • Make the effort to start a new hobby, project, sport – something new, not habitual.
  • Look at something you enjoy already and find something new that is related. For example, playing the clarinet if you enjoy the piano.

All this advice seems pretty cool to me. However, it does come with a ‘be bothered’ warning. Can you be bothered? Seems like a lot to remember for me – no, I mean, go for it!