Sometimes we are so focused on achieving our set goals that we forget about the experience itself. Whether it is to do with completing ones Bucket List or trying to quickly check off all your resolutions for the year, we focus so much on the end result that we miss all the excitement of the journey.
A recent research study by the University of Chicago and the Korea Business School shows that aspiring to specific goals has significant benefits, however, people who focused on the experience rather then the end result outdid their goal oriented team members.
In their experiment Ayelet Fishbach and Jinhee Choi had a number of students focus on a definitive target – losing weight, training for an event – and a number of students just focusing on the experience of running on the treadmill. The results illustrated that the latter group ran on average 33% longer than the goal oriented students.
The researchers go on to explain that it is all to do with the classic difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. “Visualize your goals to help get yourself started in the first place, but once you’re underway, try to let your long-term mission fade a little into the background. Revel in the process and you’re more likely to make it to the finishing line.”
Focusing on the experience has other benefits than just enjoyment. It also significantly improves your ability to reflect and learn. This is what top athletes do; they break down each and every part of their sport and then practice just that part over and over again. (Tiger Woods practicing his drive, Cristiano Ronaldo spending hours taking long distance free kicks – they all take the time to learn and grown from their experiences.)
You can only do this if you focus on the process and open your eyes to what is going around whilst you achieve your goals.
– Paul Keijzer