Don’t Just Talk about Goals, Put in the Work
It’s human nature to want things the easy way. We prefer to take an elevator instead of the stairs, enroll in the easiest version of a class, buy succulents because they’re extremely low maintenance (harder to kill) and microwave our food instead of cooking a meal from scratch. While being fit, well-educated, growing azaleas and eating a homemade meal are all appealing, the truth is they take some work.
Rock hard abs and a bank account brimming with zeros are common dreams, yet most don’t want to put in the extra hours at the gym or work.
The point is: the easy thing to do usually isn’t the best. In fact, most of the things worth having in life take a lot of effort and hard work. For example, while investing in a relationship by apologizing first or helping a friend out with a task may seem hard and inconvenient, it’s worth it in the end. The person will know you care, not just through words but proven through actions.
Here are a few more reasons to stop talking and start working.
First, just talking about goals can actually decrease the likelihood of a person putting in the work to reach them. A study conducted about sharing goals with others before achieving them found that discussing aspirations decreased the effort participants put forth toward pursuing them, as well as gave a sense that participants had already accomplished the goals, even though they hadn’t.
In addition, the more time a person spends talking about their plans without any visible results, the less seriously others will take them. Almost everyone has that friend who constantly says their diet starts tomorrow, and it becomes a joke — everyone knows the diet won’t really start tomorrow. Most importantly, that person will take themselves less seriously. Instead of remaining a concrete goal, losing weight will become some distant, unobtainable fantasy.
Working toward a goal is also incredibly satisfying. Research has connected pursuing a long-term goal with greater well-being among soon-to-be adults. Anyone who has seen results after working toward an aim can recognize that rewarding sense of satisfaction. It’s the feeling of playing “Clair de Lune” without a mistake after hours of practice or running a mile in under seven minutes after weeks of training.
Sometimes though, putting in the work isn’t the problem — the wrong mindset is. A Stanford study defined two different approaches to intelligence (although they can be applied to any area of performance): a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Students with a fixed mindset, a belief that intelligence is a stable, unchanging entity, tended to shy away from challenges and difficult problems because they were afraid of failure. However those with a growth mindset, the belief that intelligence is fluid and can be improved, were more willing to tackle challenges and approach them as opportunities for learning. The idea of an external versus an internal locus of control is similar in that it assigns power to an outside force in the external locus, but gives power to the individual in the internal locus of control. Thus those with an internal locus of control exhibit greater self-efficacy, motivation and achievement of goals.
These same concepts can be applied to our beliefs about our own physical fitness, competitiveness for graduate school or value as an employee. If we believe that each of these can be improved, we will be more likely to put in effort and face challenges head-on as opportunities for growth.
There are so many ways in which we try to push ourselves toward our goals: we listen to motivational talks on YouTube, make lists, create Pinterest boards, purchase gym memberships and self-help books. But all of those things will do nothing if there is no work added. To grow and achieve our goals, we must do the things we probably don’t want to do at the moment — it’s called discipline. To borrow from Nike, let’s “Just Do It.” Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk, when it comes to your goals.
This article was written by Zoryana Stepanyuk, a writer for the Daily Nebraskan.
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