From childhood, each of us builds experience, which we know to be the greatest teacher. As children and young adults, that experience *hopefully* keeps us safe and out of trouble. But that experience also sets up bias toward our perceived limitations, which can keep you from reaching your goals.
The Bias Principle
Scientists are well aware of the bias principle when it comes to experimentation. The process of developing a hypothesis and then testing that hypothesis leads toward the idea of conducting your work in such a way that will support your desired outcome. This is the reason experiments are randomized. But we can also see this in real life, with the placebo effect, and even with wine tasters.
It impacts your life as well.
Making the decision to change your life, in whatever way, is often met with doubt, both internal and external. This belief in what you can’t do will limit your ability to reach your goals just as readily as any physical ailment. The preconceived notion that you can not succeed will become self-fulfilling. So, how can you banish the negative impact of bias to reach your goals?
Write Them Down
Write your goals down, and put them where they can be seen. Publicize them to your friends and family. Make your desire to achieve them a matter of public knowledge. This makes you accountable. Does it open you up to nay-sayers? Certainly. But having a concrete, written goal for which you are accountable makes you accountable.
It’s easy to blithely say things like
“…I want to lose weight…”
“…I’d like to run a marathon…”
“…I want a new job…”
Most of us have things we want. But to overcome the belief in what can’t happen, you need a concretely stated goal that clearly outlines the action, timeframe, and benefit. So, instead, write goals like:
“I want to lose X pounds over the next 6 months to reduce my blood pressure.”
Develop A Plan
What is the path you will take toward achieving your goal? My decision to complete a half marathon was a stretch goal. I had never enjoyed running, and it wasn’t a habit. But when I made that choice, I went to the library and found several books on running. Using what I learned, I wrote out a 4-month training plan to achieve my goal. It was tough, but I did manage that one race. I’ve continued the exercise habit ever since.
Having a well thought out roadmap breaks seemingly insurmountable challenges into manageable chunks. This allows you to climb small hills each day, rather than looking at the mountain in the distance.
For much of your lives, we’re told what can’t be done. Even as parents, we tell our kids the things they can’t, or shouldn’t, attempt – with good reason. But if we’re not careful, we will set up bias that becomes self-limiting.
- Photo: Drewski Mac