With New Year the time for thinking about what you want to achieve over the course of the year, we've put together some of the best TED talks to help you start, stay motivated and complete your goals. Taking time to watch them will help give you the clarity and inspiration you need to be the very best version of yourself. Good luck!
Focusing specifically on exercise, a very popular New Year’s Resolution, Social Psychologist Emily Balcetis investigates what makes some people find exercising easier than others. She opens with the premise that perception is subjective and then relates this to exercise. Her studies have shown that people who are unfit see a finish line as further in the distance compared to those who are fitter. Equally those who are motivated, regardless of their fitness, see this finish line as closer and easier to reach. Furthermore, finding that those who had communicated a fitness goal and training them to focus on a finish line, rather than what’s in their peripheral vision, helped them move 23% faster, and with that in mind, you could too.
Stephen Duneier is an investor, artist, coach, professor, business leader, author and Guinness world record holder. He loves a New Year’s Resolution and explains how he’s achieved so many wild and wacky things (learning to unicycle, parkour, mindfulness, ballroom dancing, jumping stilts to name a few). He introduces the idea of marginal improvement; how just very small changes in your behaviour can impact your overall success. For example, with a goal of reading 50 books a year, the idea is that you read just one line, then one sentence, then one page, then one chapter and then you maybe go and have a break. By repeating the behaviour the slowly, but surely, get to where you want to be and achieve your goals.
Although focused on helping children feel motivated to improve, Carol Dweck’s concept is one we could all use in her lives. When children are given a grade of ‘not yet’ instead of a fail, they react with perseverance and engagement in the subject matter over longer periods of time. Instead of viewing a subject as a learning process rather than something to overcome and never consider again, students did better on it overall. Taking this approach in some of the goals you’ve set for yourself could help it become a rewarding process, rather than a strain and struggle.
Time Ferriss explains his fear-setting goals which he creates every quarter. He writes down the top things that fear him the most at that present moment based on a stoic phrase ‘the pre-meditation of evils’. He starts by defining his fears and once he’s come to terms with them can start to prevent them by acknowledging what he can do to make either the fear go away completely, or reducing the fear. He also draws up a list of what he can do to repair the damage if the fear does come to pass. This means that if he goes ahead with the goal, he has the ability to make it easier in the first place, and manage it when it does go awry. This means that he’s both less stressed in acting out the goal and working towards it, and better at mitigating circumstances.
Carrie Green explains how, after a few years running her own business, she became bored and disillusioned by the process and went to Australia to take some time out travelling. On returning, she was still disillusioned, but started to live her life according to Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth who asks people to imagine a short scenario. They are in a room with their friends and family and in that room there is a box. Walking up to the box, it’s you who’s in it and this is your funeral. Gerber wants you to think about what kind of things you want those attending to be saying about the life you led and the kind of person you were. With this in mind, Carrie started setting crazy goals for herself and insists this way of looking is a great way to achieve yours too.
David Allen of Getting Things Done introduces his natural planning model, to help you work through your goals. Surprisingly simple, with his method you can plan a goal alongside his talk to help you figure out what you need to do to get started.
Psychologist Dan Ariely addresses the conundrum where we know what we should do but act in a different way. I know that I should stay away from sugar but a tasty treat after dinner just never goes amiss! He asks how can we bridge that gap? Explaining that the gap is made up of two things, friction and motivation, he focuses on each one separately based on his research and findings.