Losing Motivation? Well Keep Your Mouth Shut
Welcome to this weeks, Motivational Talks.
As its exam seasons, I thought this would be a perfect post to put out there.
Announcing your plans to others, satisfies your self-identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work needed.
In 1933, W. Mahler found that if a person announced the solution to a problem, and was acknowledged by others, it was now in the brain as a “social reality”, even if the solution hadn’t actually been achieved. Check it out
Sounds interesting ,right? It took me a while to wrap my head around. (everyone knows I can be a bit slow at time) but this article got me thinking.
The study suggest that when people announce an intention to commit to an identity goal in public, that announcement may actually backfire. For example, Mez wants to become a Doctor for instance. She tells Abigail that she wants to pursue this career and that she is going to study hard in University. However, just by telling Abigail her intention, she knows that Abigail is already starting to think of her as a Doctor. So, she has achieved part of her identity goal just by telling Abigail about it. Oddly enough, according to the NYU psychology professor Peter Gollwitzer, this can actually decrease the likelihood that Mez will study extra hard.
Let me break it down further
They suggest that, you felt an instant sense of relief, as though you had already accomplished what it was that you were setting out to do when you told the person your goal. This is what they call the ‘social reality’ – simply having your goal acknowledged makes it a part of your identity and results in a rush of feel-good/reward hormones.
Unfortunately, this satisfaction then tricks your brain into thinking that the job is already done – and you then feel less motivated to actually go out and really achieve the goal. It’s like it has already happened, basically.
In other words, the study supports the idea social recognition makes us less likely to follow through with our intentions, but interestingly also points out that you are even more likely to achieve the goal if you are ignored or doubted when you tell people what you want to do. This reinforces the idea that it’s the recognition of others that takes off the pressure.
Whilst reading this study, I began to think about my own life and how, a majority of the things I’ve achieved in my life, someone has doubted me which pushed me to strive harder. So I’m the kind of person that prefers for people to doubt me because it gives me a motive to “come harder”.
Other Reasons Not to Talk
If you tell someone your goal this can then increase pressure in a negative way, which may not be helpful when the goal is something that requires you to remain calm and composed. A perfect example is the driving test: many people choose not to tell their friends and family when taking driving tests because they don’t want to risk having that conversation after they fail. In a situation like that, extra nerves could be very detrimental to your performance.
Another reason not to tell people your goals is that they can then end up judging your actions, which may end up being unhelpful. For example, you tell someone you want to lose weight for instance and you can find that they end up giving you looks every time you order anything a little bit fatty. This can actually remove your determination to stick to a diet as nobody likes being controlled and our natural tendency is to do the opposite of what we feel pressured into doing.
On the Other Hand…
Reasons to speak openly about your goals.
One is that this can give you a reason to make sure you do it. In other words, you are now held accountable. Now you have someone checking in on you to make sure that you are actually doing what you said you would do.
Telling other people about your goals is also one of the only ways you can get others to help you. Asking for advice for example is almost always a good idea and this necessarily requires you to speak to at least someone about your plans but be careful though, (not all advice, is good advice)
Likewise attempting a goal with someone else can also be a very good strategy. For instance, many couples find they have more luck losing weight when they decide to do so together – again this requires them to communicate their goals. Or for instance, we have a growing population of YouTube couples that are very successful. In other situations, you may simply not have a choice whether or not to tell others.
Where my Psychologist and Sociologists at? What do you think about this? Let’s discuss.
A: Does this not contradict, the Law of attraction and the power of the tongue?
To me, I don’t think it does. Law of Attracion says affirm things through your mouth out loud to the universe, it doesn’t necessarily say affirm things to people. Some people attract negative energy that could resist or hinder, you from fully achieving that goal. (Something to think about)
Whatever you do, keep in mind that if you are going to tell people, then you will need to make sure you don’t let that rob you of your incentive to actually follow through. This is something I have to always remind myself.
Like Benjamin Frankin always use to say, well done is better than well said.