Goals allow us to see where we’re going. In a way, they give us direction in life. But what if the goal is so far away that we get tired half way there?
Here are some pro-tips to help you complete the journey:
Pursue an End Goal Greater than Yourself
Studies show that rewards distract us. Say there are two groups of students that will take an exam. Group A will be given cash reward when they pass, while Group B will simply take the exam. Which do you think will perform better?
On the first try, Group A will perform better. But when the two groups take another exam, this time without cash reward, Group B will perform better.
Group A started seeing cash as the end goal of taking the exam, while Group B saw passing as its ultimate goal.
The takeaway here is that the goal itself should motivate you. When you do something, there should be a purpose that is greater than yourself. In our example, Group B must be thinking that when they pass, they can have a bright future ahead of them.
Set Concrete Goals and Lay the Obstacles
Now, let’s say you’re a Group B student. What does a “bright future” mean for you?
It might be something that is abstract, difficult to grasp, or even to achieve for that matter. So it’s a good practice to think about the details: Do I want to study at a university in the city? What course will I enjoy and learn from? Do I want a job abroad? Where do I want to live once I’m retired?
Studies claim that excessive positive thoughts can have a negative impact. For instance, you’re going to take a university entrance exam and you’re already positive that you will pass. Prior to the test, you may feel too lax, thereby decreasing your motivation to study. Now, that’s not good.
To a certain extent, it’s good to think positively about the future. However, positive thinking still has to be realistic. And realistic usually entails obstacles or problems.
Say you’re going to take a test soon. You can ace it. But how? Some of your obstacles are difficult vocabulary, long reading materials, and sleep. When you envision that you can ace the test, include a vision of you overcoming those obstacles as well.
Now, the actual university entrance exam is coming soon. It’s the best university in your country and you badly want to pass. Some students from your school have aced it, but many failed.
Now, are you ready for your turn at the exams?
If your answer is no, then let me tell you that one of the worst things in the world is giving up. But even worse is not even trying. Mark Twain once said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
If you really want to complete something, begin first. When you think you can’t complete something in one sitting, take a break. Science will ensure that you complete it anyway.
A theory called Zeigarnik Effect claims that people remember uncompleted tasks better than tasks that are already done. When you have unfinished business, a voice in your head naturally reminds you to complete it.
So if you haven’t studied for the exams yet, the best advice I can give you is “start studying.”
Will power is a superpower. It allows you to complete both simple and difficult tasks. So go ahead and start that task you’ve been delaying.
(2011, February 8). The Zeigarnik Effect. PsyBlog. Retrieved from: http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/02/the-zeigarnik-effect.php
AsapSCIENCE. (2016, January 7). The Science of Motivation. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZT-FZqfxZA
Lilienfeld, Scott O., & Arkowitz, Hal. (2011, May 1). Can Positive Thinking Be Negative? Scientific American. Retrieved from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-positive-thinking-be-negative/