The following is an excerpt from my new book! Now available on Amazon.com, Smashwords.com (and coming soon to iBooks). Enjoy, and email me if you’d like to know more about my book or would like sample chapters emailed to you…
Richard Wiseman of the University of Herfordshire led a 700 person study with the goal of learning about their New Year’s resolution strategies. Those pursuing large sweeping changes (quitting smoking, losing weight) had only a 22% success rate.
Those who broke their ‘sweeping change’ goals down (into smaller sub-set goals) increased their odds of success to 32%. By additionally adding the following they increased their odds of success to 50%;
- Rewarding themselves when they reached their smaller goals,
- Enlisting the support of their friends
- Keeping a diary of their progress
Dr. Martin Seligman first defined the condition called Learned Helplessness on completion of his study conducted in the late 60’s. It’s defines patterned thinking brought on by traumatic life events which causes us to believe that we don’t have complete control over the outcome of situations we encounter.
Seligman created an experiment where animals were exposed to adverse stimulus that they were (at first) unable to escape. He found that eventually the animals stopped trying to escape, even after opportunities were provided to them. When he repeated the experiments with humans, he found a similar result. Over time we also stopped trying to escape, instead surrendering to our own learned helplessness.
Even if you’ve failed in the past, never give up. There’s always a way, you just have to learn to recognize the ‘opportunity for escape’ when it arrives.
Seligman describes one of the root causes of learned helplessness as the ‘entrenched cynicism’ our society has adopted. He states that distrustful and negative people are seen as ‘intellectually cool’, and that optimists are branded as naive.
Be an optimist, it doesn’t matter if other people think you’re naive. It’s your life, don’t let the beliefs of others limit it.
While you can’t control all the things that happen to you – you can absolutely control what you do about it. Don’t give up, give patience and determination – there is always a way.
Set lofty goals for yourself, but break them down into manageable sub-sets. Don’t get ‘greedy for immediacy’, you’ll set yourself further behind in the long run.
When it comes to self re-creation, slow and steady wins the race.