If you’re not doing well in any one area of life, you can take a sixty-second action that will allow you to dramatically increase your performance in just a few days.
Here’s the story.
In 1981 Albert Bandura and Dale Schunk did a study with first graders who were terrible in math to see if they could improve their performance with a simple intervention. Just to make clear how bad the students were at math, none of them could get more than one subtraction problem right on the pre-test they were given.
This means all of them had the lowest possible grades in math. And as I’m sure you could guess, they all hated math (surprisingly Bandura and Schunk had a way of measuring that too.)
The students were put into a self-guided math program and divided into two groups. In one group the students were told to set a goal for how many math problems they could complete during the 7 sessions they were to allowed to work on them.
In the second group the students were encouraged to set a goal for each session instead of a long range goal.
By the end of the study both groups of student’s had to take another subtraction test.
This time there was a huge difference between the two groups.
Group one scored 45% on the test, a substantial improvement.
However, group two scored a whopping 81% on the next test. They had improved twice as much as the others!
But the most amazing thing about this study is what the experimenters tried next. They gave the students a free play period a few days later. The students were told that they could play with the exercises in the room.
One of the sets of exercises available to them were “solve the code” type puzzles and another group of exercises were subtraction problems.
The students from group one who only had a long range goal did one subtraction problem on average and spent the rest of the time on the solve the code games.
The students from the short-range goals group solved 14 subtraction problems on average during the free period.
This means that those students liked math a lot more than they did before.
Why did setting short range goals help so much? It turns out that setting short range goals is a good way to build something called “self efficacy.”
Self efficacy is your belief in your ability to accomplish things in a specific area. So a person may have high or low self efficacy in math, writing, self control etc.
It turns out that achieving short range goals helps to build self efficacy. And when you build self efficacy you start to enjoy what you are doing.
Also, setting short range goals that are challenging gives you greater focus and motivation so you actually enjoy the activity more the first time you engage in it.
So what’s the 60-second technique that will have you achieve more and enjoy it?
Set short-range, challenging goals every day. If you do, you’ll make your bad performances good and your good performances great. And not only that, you’ll actually come to like what you’re doing!
How will you use this information? Let me know in the comments below.