It is common knowledge that setting goals is vital to advancing in both your personal and professional life. A quick google search will return a myriad of self help titles and oodles of motivational videos. From Tony Robbins and to your school coach; you will hear how visualising your goals will bring you success… However, research shows that merely visualising your goal will be ineffective at best.
An experiment from the University of California had students visualise their success in their mid-term papers, to imagine how the success felt. In comparison to the control group, the experiment found that the students who visualised their success actually studied less therefore did worse in their mid-term papers. These students had imagined the success so well they felt like they had already reached their goal and consequently weren’t prepared to put in the work to get there. Similar experiments have been conducted with weight-loss participants with comparable results. Fantasising about your goals does little to help achieve them.
Professor Richard Wiseman has studied 5000 participants to distil a number of techniques that are proven to be effective in assisting to achieve your goals.
1. A STEP BY STEP PLAN
“People don’t tend to wander around and find themselves at the top of Everest” - Zig Ziglar
Planning milestones required to achieve your goals was found to be the most effective tool in goal setting and success. Break down your goal in to three to five achievable sub goals, set realistic time frames to each step and allocate a small reward for reaching each sub-goal.
2. TELL YOUR FRIENDS
Telling your friends makes your goal real and keeps you from letting your plans slip by with no audience. A positive and motivational anxiety can be helpful in maintaining your momentum!
3. OVER COMING PROCTASTINATION
The psychology of procrastination is highly complex. There is a myriad of reasons why we procrastinate and most of us do to some degree!
Russian psychologists discovered that the brain is hard wired to hold onto a task until it is finished. Like a personal nagging reflex we hold onto tasks until the bitter end. This is why waiters are so good with your order, but you can often be waiting ages for the bill. In their minds the primary task is ticked off – you are now invisible!
We can use this natural nagging instinct to our advantage to overcome procrastination. All we need to do is set aside ‘a few minutes’ towards our goal per day. By starting the task our naturally nagging brains will bug us until we finish.
4. DOUBLE THINK
Lifted from George Orwell’s 1984 double-think is the concept of simultaneously holding two opposing beliefs. In 1984 it is used to control the population, but research suggests that the technique can be used to help reach goals. If we fantasise about the reward of reaching our goal, but also contemplating the barriers to our success then we put ourselves in the strongest psychological position to succeed.
So there you have it... Have fun winning at life!