How to Motivate Yourself

Want to do something well? You might try asking yourself if you can do it rather than telling yourself that you can.
In a new study, a group of researchers found that when people spent a minute wondering if they would complete a task (in this case, rearranging the letters in words to create new words), they then performed better on the task than if they spent a minute telling themselves they would complete it. People also performed better if they wrote the phrase “Will I” before trying the task than if they first wrote the phrase “I will.”
As Dolores Albarracin, a professor at the University of Illinois who worked on the study, concludes in a write-up of the research:

The popular idea is that self-affirmations enhance people’s ability to meet their goals. It seems, however, that when it comes to performing a specific behavior, asking questions is a more promising way of achieving your objectives.

Category: Positive Psychology


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