Psychology was about finding what is wrong with you. The problem was, that we knew very little about things like happiness, success, goal achievement, positive habits, motivation, and so on. First, I will go over the three major flaws of a lot of the advice that can be found out there:
* The advice is anecdotal. This is advice that is coming from a “this worked for me, so it must work for you” perspective. While this could be the case, more often than not the person giving the advice lacks a complete understanding of why it worked for them. “positive thinking”, or “just do it”-type of advice. Yes, that works great…! If you know how to do it!! Their realization is that “positive thinking works!”. But for the person on the receiving end, advice such as “Think positive!”, or “Just do it!”, may be as useful as someone telling them to “grow taller”. Personally I’d love to do that, I just wish that they could also explain to me how I can do it…
* The advice lacks evidence that supports it. This is the case with a lot of the conventional wisdoms out there that hasn’t been tested scientifically. The biggest traps lie in advice that really “feels right” – or worse, it “feels good” – but where the truth actually lies in the opposite direction.
* The advice is incomplete or over-simplified. This is somewhat related to the first point. Often when people give advice (again including people with lengthy experience in the field of giving advice), they are not fully aware of the other factors that also affected their outcome. But even in the case of science there is often a lack of user-friendly, step-by-step, complete systems. The science of motivation doesn’t really touch on the science of habits, or the science of willpower. And the science of happiness doesn’t really go into detail about goal setting. And so on.
2. Write it down!
“Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think.” ~ Albert Einstein
The first scientific principle behind successful goal setting that I will explain, is about the importance of writing your goals down, using a pen and a workbook. Gail Matthews, PhD at Dominican University, therefore set out to test the hypothesis. she did find that people who write down their goals achieve significantly more, regardless of the nature of their goal, than those who just keep it all in their head. writing things down with pen and paper is more efficient than typing it into a document on a computer. The conclusion: Writing down your goals, as well as other things related to your goal achievement process, in a physical workbook, journal, or diary, will increase your success rate.
3. Know Thyself
Self-awareness is integral to goal setting.
Seligman’s research: three main takeaways from his research, which can be used when we are setting our goals.
* The research shows that people who use their unique strengths in their life are happier and more satisfied with their life than those who do not. * The research also shows that people who use their unique strengths make more progress towards their goals. * Finally, the research shows that people who use their strengths for a purpose greater than their own goals are happier than those who don’t.
In order to maximize your chances of reaching your goal(s), you should identify your individual strengths and then make sure that you utilize them in your journey towards your goal. If you do this successfully, you will also become happier. And if you really want to take it to the ultimate level, you want to make sure that your goals involve some form of contribution to others.
4. Be Happy
“Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain, nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain: happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak” ~ Tal Ben-Shahar
Everyone can learn to be happier. People who pursue goals are happier than those who do not. Happiness involves both pleasure and meaning. Working hard towards a future goal while making certain sacrifices, yet still making sure to sprinkle in happiness activities throughout your daily life. Finding a goal that you truly enjoy working towards. In essence, what this tells us, is to choose goals that make us happy, and give us both pleasure and meaning, whether we achieve them or not. If we can do this, we can move from becoming happy, to being happy.
5. The Truth About Motivation
The fact is that motivation is fickle. It comes and goes, and there is little we can do about it in the way of applying mental processes to it. Trying to “get motivated” is, simply put, a wild goose chase.
The questions are then: 1) How can we feel more motivated, more often, and for longer time periods once that feeling comes over us? And 2) what are we supposed to do during the times when we don’t “feel it”? The solution to the first question lies in something called Temporal Motivation Theory (TMT). TMT boils down motivation to a very simple equation.
Motivation = (Expectancy x Value) / (Impulsiveness x Delay)
Expectancy – This is how likely you think you are to achieve a particular goal. By adjusting the goal, i.e. making it easier to reach, or by building your confidence, you can increase your expectancy, and thus increase your motivation.
Value – This is how much the outcome means to you. By reflecting on your goals and what they actually mean to you, what pleasure and meaning you will get out of reaching them, and adjusting them to make them more valuable to you, you can increase your motivation.
Impulsiveness – This is how likely we are to get off track when being distracted by various shiny objects. By working on strengthening your willpower and by removing or reducing distractions, you can increase your motivation.
Delay – This is how far into the future the reward, or outcome, lies. Have you ever felt slightly more motivated by, for example, studying for an exam that is tomorrow, than for one that is in two weeks? By designing goals with the short-term in mind, or by breaking down your long-term goals into sequential short-term goals and then shift your focus to these, you can increase your motivation.
But what about the second question? The solution to this lies in establishing behaviors that run on auto-pilot, so that desirable tasks and actions gets carried out whether we feel like doing them or not. I am sure you are familiar with this concept: It’s called Habits. if you can shift your focus from “trying to get yourself motivated” to identifying the smallest specific habit that is required for you to reach your goal(s), you will already have come a long way.
6. The Positive Thinking Myth
Gabrielle Oettingen, in her research at New York University and the University of Hamburg, has, through over 25 years of rigorous studies, showed that the more time people spend on visualizing having achieved their goal, the less likely they are to actually take action towards that goal. The more time people spend on visualizing having achieved their goal, the less likely they are to actually take action towards that goal. So shift your focus from your goals to the process, including the obstacles and challenges ahead of you, and how you can overcome them.
7. Daily Routines
“The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” ~ John C. Maxwell
Studies at MIT University show that the most effective ways to create a new habit, or to change existing habits, and get them to run on auto-pilot, is to create a routine that is tied to the same time or scenario each and every time. our self-control is the highest in the morning. your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day, your evenings set the tone for your mornings!