How You Think About Your Goals Matters
I’m reading Heidi Grant Halvorson’s book Succeed and it is full of fascinating research about setting and reaching goals. One of the things I’ve found most interesting so far is that how we think about our goals can determine our likelihood of achieving them.
There are two different ways we can think about a goal, either in concrete terms regarding “what” we are doing or in more abstract terms focusing on “why” we are doing it. One way of thinking about a goal isn’t better than the other; it depends on the situation.
Thinking about the why of what you are doing is very motivational. So if you need a lot of self-control to refrain from ordering a blizzard for yourself when you take the kids to Dairy Queen for a treat, then thinking about how great you feel when you eat healthy foods and can fit into your skinny jeans will help you stick to your diet.
What thinking is much more helpful when you are trying to do something difficult or unfamiliar. My son will be getting his driver’s permit soon. OMG! That thought freaks me out a bit! Anyway, when he is learning to drive he will be much better off thinking very concretely about what he is doing; look in the rearview mirror, put the car into reverse, gently push the accelerator, keep the car on the road, etc. Let’s face it; he doesn’t need motivation to want to learn to drive! But he will need to focus on the specific actions involved in driving a car if he is going to be successful.
So take a minute to think about your goals. If there is something you have been trying to achieve, but you just can’t seem to find the motivation, spend some time thinking about why you want to accomplish that goal. How will your life improve if you achieve it? Write that down and refer to it when you feel your motivation is lacking. If, on the other hand, you are trying to learn something new or do something that is especially difficult for you, think about the first step you need to take in order to move toward that goal. Each time you think about your goal focus on the next specific action you should perform.
So no more excuses for not achieving your goals. Here’s to success!