By Michael Mink
Want to achieve a huge goal?
“(Then) don’t tell me your goal; don’t tell me your dream; tell me your plan,” said Jeff Haden, author of “The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win.”
Haden says research shows that people who talk about a goal they want to achieve — especially how it will feel to achieve it — are much less likely to do so.
This is because “you already got a kick out of people thinking of you (for example) as an NYC Marathon finisher, so now you’re less motivated to actually be an NYC Marathon finisher.”
To improve your results on anything, consider changing your perspective.
Raise the stakes.
Haden says that in a recent research study, one group was given a simple temptation and told to say in response to it, “I can’t,” while the other group was told to say, “I don’t.”
Participants told to say, “I can’t” gave in to the temptation 61% of the time, while participants told to say, “I don’t” gave in only 36%.
“When we say ‘I can’t,’ we automatically give ourselves a way out,” Haden said. “We have a choice. Actually, we could give in.
“But when we say ‘I don’t,’ we’re powerful. We’re determined. We’re not making a choice. What we do — or don’t do — is based on something much stronger: our identity. We don’t, because that’s who we are.”
Stay in the moment
Successful leaders are focused and present, says Julie Rosenberg, author “Beyond The Mat: Achieve Focus, Presence, and Enlightened Leadership though the Principles and Practice of Yoga.”
She adds these leaders “have cultivated an ability to pay attention to what’s important and avoid the constant distractions that negatively impact productivity and results. They do not dwell on past mistakes and they do not brood about future risks and concerns.”
Haden says if a big goal looks like a scary mountain, just focus on the next step, “the day to day and not the end result.”
Having to make too many decisions in a day can be counterproductive. The more choices we make during the day, Haden says, the harder each one is on our brain “and the more we start to look for shortcuts.”
“A to-do list with 20 or 30 items is really just a wish list — impossible and depressing,” Haden said.
Paring down the number of issues you tackle in a day improves your chances of making good decisions.
Also, turn ambiguous goals into achievable tasks. Instead of saying, “Make more cold calls,” Haden says you should tell yourself to “make three cold calls to prospects today.”
A good research-and-reflection process is key to solid decision-making, says Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, author of “Problem Solved: A Powerful System for Making Complex Decisions With Confidence and Conviction.”
High-stakes decisions deserve time and attention, but “we’re in such a rush to reach a conclusion that we never really take the time for deep reflection,” Strauss Einhorn said.
One culprit: information overload. People are over-programmed to answer emails late at night and waking to urgent texts, she says.
“We struggle with the need to react when we also need to really think,” Strauss Einhorn said. “Yet when it comes to our future, we deserve the time needed for thoughtful reflection. Insight doesn’t come from collecting information alone; it comes from brainwork.”
Pause throughout the day
Turn off your cellphone, shut down your computer and give yourself a few moments of quiet, Rosenberg advises.
“Your brain activity will almost instantly be less frenzied,” she said.
Make time for it in your day to de-stress. Rosenberg suggests doing a simple meditation practice, even for just two to five minutes per day.
She says simple yoga breathing techniques support the nervous system and kick-start a relaxation response. “This reduces stress and helps our minds to become less cluttered and frantic, allowing us to make prudent and objective, rather than reactive, decisions,” Rosenberg said.
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