With this being the GOAL setting season, I am curious, what motivates you? Is it the reward or consequences?
Our nature, is to respond to either by what we will get if we do a certain behavior or what we lose if we don’t do the behavior. We are taught as humans that the more effective way to get a desired behavior is through pain and consequences. How do I know this, look at a few of our everyday examples? How come you slow to the speed limit even though you want to go faster and you feel like going faster is safe. Because the fear of a ticket makes you slow down. If the fear didn’t exist, or even if we were told that we would get $100 a day if we drove 10 miles under the speed limit for the entire day we wouldn’t, not because we couldn’t or because we hate driving slow. The reward of $100 a day wouldn’t motivate us like paying a $100 for speeding. We also pay our taxes because we would rather avoid the consequence of not paying them.
One way to make sure we stay on track to reaching our goals in 2016 is to write our goals in such a way that we are motivated by the pain or consequence more than the reward. In economics this is called Loss Aversion (loss aversion refers to people’s tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Most studies suggest that losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains).
Here is an example. Many times people will take on a challenge as a motivator for a goal they have set for themselves, like losing weight. I heard about a lady who kept failing at the goal of losing weight because the goal was based on giving to her favorite charity if she hit the goal. Now I have no doubt that she had every intention of hitting the goal for herself plus the thought of rewarding her favorite charity I am sure was exciting just to think about. However, for over a decade, she could not lose the weight or donate to her favorite nonprofit based on her goal. Most of the time a reward is not enough, however, if we made the goal around what pains or consequences awaits us the results are different. As this story goes the same lady was asked by her coach to consider her goal another way. She was challenged to donate to a charity that is opposite of the one she respects and likes. She put her postdated check in an envelope written out to the charity she could never imagine giving her hard earned money and handed it to her friend. The friend was instructed to give the envelope to the organization on the set target date if she had not hit her goal by then. As the story goes the lady said that every time she would think about that extra cookie or late night snack she would see her hard earned money going to this dreadful group so she would not eat the cookie. Just the thought of giving money to the organization that we do not like will pain us enough to reach our goal.
This type of Goal setting is significant for everyone who is attempting to get things to the next stage. I have found this most effective for households, scholars, student athletes, entrepreneurs and people who are looking at improved results in 2016. Take action today and make it happen!