I’d like to introduce you guys to one of the most influential articles I have ever read. I encourage you to read it for yourself, but I’ll summarize. Basically a research study in 2009 showed that
IF YOU TELL SOMEONE ELSE ABOUT AN IMPORTANT GOAL, YOU ARE LESS LIKELY TO ACHIEVE IT.
|According to the article, the reason for this is that we make major changes in our lives for two reasons:
1) because of the person we want to be (internal motivation) and
2) because of the person we want others to think we are (external motivation).
The theory is that the moment we tell someone else about our goal, we feel like they already think of us as having achieved it, and thus we already gain a major part of the benefit of #2. Then suddenly the external motivation is gone. We’ve already received the external payoff of telling other people about it. So now we’re only left with internal motivation, along with our feelings of guilt or duty to the person we told.
I have seen this dynamic at play in my life REPEATEDLY, in the smallest day-to-day interactions. I know it would make my hubby happy if I did laundry for him, so I tell him I’ll do his laundry today, and he thanks me in advance. Suddenly some of my motivation is gone, and now instead of doing the laundry in anticipation of pleasing him (as I would have if I hadn’t told him I would), I spend the day with oppressive, nagging guilt that I need to keep my word to him. It seems harder to actually make myself do it – many times I don’t. And then when I do it, it isn’t as fun for either of us, because I’m only doing what I already said I’d do, right? And I’m not even talking about a major identity goal here, or a major change in my life, we’re just talking about a mundane chore!
This, of course, is very applicable to P90x. For a lot of you, this fitness program represents a major change in your lifestyle. You have an image in your mind of the person you want to be at the end of the program – an identity goal. As long as you are doing the program in secret so that only you (and your immediate family and/or workout partner) know about it, you are doing it for yourself, and you have that identity goal ahead of you as a motivator. You can’t wait for people to notice how much better you look. You imagine how impressed they’ll be when they learn of your dedication and the rigors of the program.
You’re so excited about it, in fact, that you want to shout it from the rooftops that you are doing this crazy P90x program, even though you’re only at week 2 and aren’t seeing many results yet. DON’T DO IT. Sure, brag about it after it’s done. Once you have achieved that identity goal, have pressed play diligently and are 90 days closer to the goal of becoming a fit and healthy person, feel free to let everyone know how you got there and get that pat on the back. But in the meantime, put the psychology of goal-setting to work for you: until you ARE that person, keep P90x to yourself!