Did you read The Secret? If you did you're not alone. This self-help phenomenon by Rhonda Byrne sold over 19 million copies since it's debut in 2006 and it's foundation rested upon the theory that if you want something you should project it into the universe and have a little mini celebration as if you've already achieved it; in essence prepping yourself for the success you're bound to have. The secret you may not know about The Secret? It doesn't work - in fact, positive fantasies about achieving something you want are linked to decreased odds that you will in fact achieve your goal.
Several studies have shown that this applies to all aspects of life: money, romance, health, relationships. When you break it down it makes total sense. By imagining that you have already achieved your goal, your body produces a pleasure response essentially making you happy without making you do any of the work. So that diet? Go ahead have a cookie, you're going to be skinny soon anyway! That savings account? It's going to be full, go ahead and buy that dress! That crush you've been dying to talk to? He's all yours, no need to introduce yourself today.
This isn't to say that goal setting is a bad idea, but celebrations should come after accomplishments. Below are some proven ways to help you keep yourself accountable to your goals.
- Don't tell anyone! Keep your goals to yourself, and let people notice the progress you've made. Studies show that telling someone your goal makes you less likely to accomplish it.
- Set benchmarks goals and reward yourself. For example, if your end goal is to lose 30 lbs, reward yourself with some dark chocolate (or another healthy treat of choice) if you make it to the gym 5 days that week. Only 4 days? No chocolate! It will help you keep yourself on track!
- Find out what motivates you. Are you internally motivated? Do you require external support? Find out what drives your success and leverage it.
- Set realistic goals. This is a BIG ONE. Don't set yourself up for failure. If you want to get back into a workout routine, start with 15 minutes, 5 days a week. If you say you're going to workout for 1 hour 3 days a week that quickly turns into 1 hour 1 day a week. Small, frequent activities are your best friend.
For more information on why positive thinking can lead to negative results, read the full article in Aeon here: https://aeon.co/essays/thinking-positive-is-a-surprisingly-risky-manoeuvre
How has goal setting worked for you? Do you achieve what you try to do? Let me know in the comments below!