• Nitya Kirat

When Going Backwards Can Help Move You Forward


I was at the gym and doing some shoulder presses, when I found myself falling short of my goals. I wanted to do 3 sets of 10 (let’s ignore the weight for now). On the first set – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7…. I stopped. On the next set I got to 8. I knew I could get to 10, but wasn’t pushing myself. Then I started the final set counting from 10 backwards. I did 10 without a problem and counted backwards on the rest of my sets that day to great effect.


I thought this could be very effective in other areas. I tried this during a coaching session – the sales person I was working with was regularly getting to ~35 calls a day of a 40 call/day target. I suggested they start with #40 on the list and work backwards (up the list). Getting to 35 of 40 is still good, and we can get complacent on the remainder. But stopping at #5 on the list, with a few contacts on the top of the list left, didn’t seem quite as rewarding. The tactic worked to help them across that mental barrier.


On the flipside, we don’t want to limit ourselves or others from pushing to accomplish more (that 12th rep or 43rd call). But when we aren’t getting to the goals we have set, going backwards can be an effective tactic to help us move forward.

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