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Monday, October 3, 2011

What's the best way to commit to a goal?

It's relatively easy to get distracted from our goals mainly due to lack of commitment. People don't commit to goals they don't expect to achieve. Psychological researchers (Oettingen et al., 2001) found that the most effective way to force people to decide whether their goals were achievable was to contrast the positive vision of the problem solved with the negative aspects of their reality.

The "contrasting technique" seems to work because people don't like inconsistencies between what they have, with what they want. There's something about focusing on this difference either confirms that achievement is either possible or not. If not, they let the goal go. If achievement seems possible, commitment follows.

The other two goal attainment techniques
1) positive visualization of problem solved, and
2) dwelling of negativity of the present

were not as effective as combining the two.  Psychologist call the process of  combining incompatibilities as  cognitive dissonance.
This mental contrasting makes people ask themselves if the goal is really something worth pursuing.

Here is a goal committment worksheet to help you work through the process described above.

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