Ep.95 – Ayelet Fishbach – Get It Done: Surprising Lessons from the Science of Motivation

Paul FennerPodcast

Ayelet Fishbach, Get It Done, University of Chicago

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What happens when the person you most want to influence is you?  Setting and achieving goals for yourself at work, home, and in relationships—is harder than it seems.  So how do you know where to start?

Ayelet Fishback, professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, has focused much of her career on determining what motivates people.  From, how do you carry on in the face of roadblocks and distractions to how do you decide which tasks and ambitions to prioritize when facing multiple responsibilities.

Through her research, Ayelet discovered that there is a certain structure for getting things done;

  1. Set the goal right
  2. Monitor progress and switch your focus to the middle of your to-do list
  3. Your goals should balance rather than undermine each other
  4. Seek social support

While Ayelet points out that you need to begin thinking about why you want to achieve your goals, there is a balancing point where your goal must be fun or intrinsically motivating.  Ayelet uses an example of putting together a financial plan.  Unfortunately, most people do not believe this to be a fun exercise, which is likely why families put off dealing with their financial situations until they are forced to.

Motivation is likely high when you set a goal and high when you can see the finish line.  Ayelet points out that goals often die in the “middle problem,” especially long-term goals.  For example, take retirement planning.  A goal of this type needs to be broken into sub-goals and into the smallest unit that makes sense.  Rather than measuring retirement progress in days or weeks, think of it in terms of years or even decades.

An often-overlooked aspect of achieving your goals is ensuring you have the right support people around you to help.  Of course, letting people know what your goals are is a great first step.  However, as Ayelet discusses, people who understand your goals can encourage you to keep going when you are down, which can be a highly motivating factor in achieving success.

Please enjoy my conversation with Ayelet Fishbach.

Ayelet Fishbach

Get It Done: Surprising Lessons from the Science of Motivation

Dan Pink – How to Create Success for Yourself

The 4-ingredient recipe for getting things done

University of Chicago Booth School of Business