We all sometimes get distracted from the most important goals in our lives. Researchers asked three groups of people to look at their goals and either:
1. Indulge: imagine a positive vision of the problem solved.
2. Dwell: think about the negative aspects of the current situation.
3. Contrast: first imagine a positive vision of the problem solved then think about the negative aspects of reality. With both in mind, participants were asked to carry out a ‘reality check’, comparing their fantasy with reality.
Using the Contrast Technique was the most effective in encouraging people to make plans of action and in taking responsibility but only when expectations of success were high. It appeared to be forcing people to decide whether their goal was really achievable or not. Then, if they expected to succeed, they committed to the goal; if not, they let it go.
Our natural reaction is to avoid bringing fantasy and reality together because it’s uncomfortable. Suddenly it becomes obvious what needs to be done and these realizations can be depressing—we might have a lot of work to do. Worse, we might have to face the fact that our goal is unworkable.
When done right, the strength of this technique is it forces us to decide. People have a natural tendency to avoid decisions, preferring to stay in a fantasy land where the chance of failure is zero.
Read more from this article in PsyBlog http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/01/how-to-commit-to-a-goal.php
Image credit: Angie Torres