Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sharif Khan Reveals Common Self-Help Myth

I stumbled upon a rather interesting counterintuitive phenomenon in a Psychology Today article by Annie Murphy Paul titled, "Self-Help: Shattering the Myths":

Common self-help wisdom says, "visualize your goal, and you'll help make it come true."

But in this article, "Shelley Taylor, Ph.D., a psychologist at UCLA, has reservations about visualizing your goals. 'First of all, it separates the goal from what you need to do to get it. And second, it enables you to enjoy the feeling of being successful without actually having achieved anything. That takes away the power of the goal'

"[Instead], you should figure out what the steps to get there are, and then mentally rehearse them," says Taylor.

"In an experiment, Taylor asked some students preparing for an exam to imagine their happiness at having received an "A" on the test, and others to picture themselves sitting in the library, studying their textbooks and going over lecture notes. Those in the second group performed better on the test, and experienced less stress and worry."

This discovery gives us a useful strategy: Namely, to visualize the PROCESS of accomplishing a goal instead of just visualizing the end result.

However, I'm not sure how accurate and conclusive these test results are. I feel a combination of having written goals, visualizing the end result (as Olympic athletes do visualizing themselves recieving the gold medal), visualizing ourselves doing activities that will get us closer to our goals, and having an ACTION plan with daily activities/goals to get us to our target goal to be more effective than using any one strategy.

Sharif Khan
Freelance Writer, Inspirational Speaker, Coach, Author, "The Hero Soul"
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