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Kaizan on Whether It Helps to Announce Goals Publicly


A recent post on the Kaizan Blog, “Does Telling Everyone About Your Goals Make You More Likely to Achieve Them?” passes on the results of an interesting study about what happens when you make your goals public. Do people feel more motivated to achieve them? In this particular study, the answer was a resounding “No!”, and the Kaizan post delves into the why of that with some useful ideas.

It’s worth noting that this was a small study of a very limited population in a very limited situation, so there might actually be a lot of value to announcing your goals under other circumstances. For instance, I expect announcing a goal is much more motivating if you are going to have to go up and demonstrate how you did on your goal in a certain amount of time, whether you succeeded or not. But I’ll post more on that when I dig up some solid information on that particular point. I’ll be curious to see if what research or other information might be out there.


How We Overestimate Our Own Self-Control

States of mind

PR Newswire posted an article yesterday called “Research Shows Temptation More Powerful Than Individuals Realize; Personal Restraints Often Overpowered by Impulse” about recent psychological research by Loran Nordgren.┬áThat research makes a very useful point: on average, we tend to overestimate how much self-control we have, so we tend to put ourselves in tempting situations more often than is ideal for us. This is an example of an effect Daniel Gilbert describes in his book Stumbling on Happiness, that when we are in one mood, it’s very difficult for us to imagine how we would make decisions in a different mood–and that we generally don’t recognize this is so. When we’re sad, it feels as though everything will suck forever, for instance. In the same way, Nordgren’s experiments support the idea that when we’re calm, we don’t do a good job of predicting how we’ll act if things get crazy (for instance, if someone introduces a big slice of chocolate cake into the picture).

Unfortunately, this piece makes the same mistake that is often made when people talk about running out of willpower: they assume that we should avoid all tempting situations no matter what. In reality, if we always avoid temptation, we miss our opportunities to exercise and strengthen our willpower. We just don’t want to go in the other direction either, and overwhelm ourselves past the point where we still have willpower left.

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