This curated column is authored by Srinivas Rao, Founder, unmistakablecreative.com
“The closer you perceive your success to be, the faster you move toward it” — Shawn Achor
It’s that time of year when we look back, reflect on all that went right, all that went wrong, and set goals for the following year. And we set goals that are lofty, ambitious, and awe-inspiring. While our efforts are well-intentioned, they often fall short of our expectations.
A few years ago I stumbled upon a nugget in Shawn Achor’s book Before Happiness, that made me rethink my approach to setting goals:
“The brain release its accelerants not just when a runner sees the finish line, but as soon as the runner realizes the probability that he or she is going to succeed. What that means for all of us in the working world is that we don’t need to be at the end of the race to reap to cognitive rewards of the X-Spot. By changing our perception of the distance to the finish line, we can prime our brains to release those chemicals earlier to accelerate our success. “ — Shawn Achor
This idea could accelerate your progress in a number of areas:
- Creative output
- Weight loss/Other Physical Goals
- Income Goals
It’s one of the most powerful tools at our disposal when it comes to goal achievement.
Putting it Into Practice
There are a number of ways that this could be applied.
As an author, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about what it takes to become more prolific. Say I want to write something that’s 5000 words long and I currently have written zero words. If I change the goal to 1000 words, due to the perceived distance to the finish line, I’ll get there faster. Once I get to 1000, I can keep readjusting the goal and leverage the power of success accelerants until I reach 5000.
2. Reading Habits
You could take the same approach to your reading habits. 100 books a year might sound incredibly daunting. But reading 20 pages is not a big deal. Set that as your daily goal, your progress towards 100 books will start to accelerate rapidly.
You could also leverage the same process for increasing your income. Say you want to earn 5000 dollars and you’re currently at zero. Change the goal to a 1000 dollars and you reduce the perceived distance from where you are to the goal and as a result, your progress accelerates. Once you get to 1000 dollars, you readjust the goal to 1500, 2000 and so until you reach the goal of 5000 dollars.
Take a big goal, break it up into little pieces and reduce the perceived distance between where you are and where you want to be. In the words of Shawn Achor, “your success is largely determined by how you perceive your current progress.” It’s a simple idea that’s incredibly effective.