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3 Motivational Mind Tricks Designed to Power Progress

| June 18, 2013

by Jim Bruce

Making progress toward a goal increases motivation and performance.  In today’s reading, “3 Motivational Mind Tricks Designed to Power Progress” <>, Janet Choi, Chief Creative Officer of iDoneThis, provides advice on how we can use our mind to power further progress.

Choi notes that as you think about a goal, you really need to know where you are, and especially when you have moved forward, that is, when you have actually made progress.  The problem here, she notes, is that the work most of us do, does not provide the same clarity of progress that a farmer sees in the number of bushels harvested.

She suggests three three “tricks” we can play on our mind to motivate and engage us in our work:

1.  Seeing progress increases performance – Dan Aaiely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, has conducted experiments that demonstrate that everyone gets a boost by showing their work, and by keeping track of their accomplishments.  This suggests that everyone needs to take the time, regularly, to stop, reflect on, and acknowledge how the work has progressed.  Here is where you need to get really specific.

2.  Even the illusion of progress spurs motivation – motivation significantly increases when you get closer to meeting your goal.  Interestingly, even the illusion of making process causes the same accelerating effect.  This leads to advice to take your large goal and break it into smaller, well defined steps.  As you do this, shift your frame of reference to a focus on the short-term yet meaningful goal.  Think in terms of short sprints rather than a much longer marathon.

3.  A lack of progress isn’t the end of the line – progress never is a straight-line assent to the peak.  Sometimes you will get stuck and don’t have a sense of progress.  You might even begin to feel comfortable there.  Choi’s advice is to use this time to intentionally sharpen the tools you are using to do the work.  Evaluate the tools you are using and seek to improve your capabilities.  Look for new tools that address the goal in a different manner.  Learn how to be proficient with them.  

This week, consider expanding your reflection time to include a regular evaluation of progress on your goals.  Let that progress further motivate you to reach your goals.


Have a great week.  .  .  .    jim