It’s the Journey, Not the Destination: How Metaphor Drives Growth After Goal Attainment

[MUSIC] What is success?>>Is it what you accomplished? Or how much you feel you have grown,
learnt, and your ability to change your habits,
moving forward?>>Most traditional views of success
would argue that it’s the former, that it’s about money,
status, recognition. And it’s associated with the fleeting
feeling of happiness you experience once you achieve a goal.>>However, another measure of success is
based on the behaviors you take once you achieve the goal.>>The goal supporting activities
that enable you to make progress in important domains of your life such
as health, relationships, or education.>>Now, this insight is critical,
because it moves us from focusing on our achievements to thinking about what
happens after the goal has been achieved. It allows us to move from the short run
win associated with attaining a goal to the longer term benefits associated
with continued improvement, after the goal has been achieved.>>The whole point of education
is not getting a diploma. It is to acquire the skills to
keep learning in the future. And the whole point of getting into
shape is not to lose five pounds, it is to keep the weight off, and maintain
your healthy habits in the future.>>In this life,
success isn’t the short run win, it’s the subsequent activity that you
adopt after you achieve your goal.>>In our research, we focus on how to
achieve this type of longer term success. We hypothesize that, instead of focusing
only on the goal that’s been attained. Individuals will be better served
by reflecting on all the steps he took to achieve it. Just think metaphorically about
the entire effort as a journey, rather than a destination.>>So we recruited more than 1600 dieters,
exercisers, business executives, and university
students to think about their goal success as a journey they just completed
or a destination they just reached. For example,
we designed a 14 day walking program, and asked volunteers to download
a Pacer Mobile app to track their steps. The participants would state their walking
goal, and tracked how far they walked. After reaching their goal, they were then
given the opportunity to continue tracking their steps for three more days. We found that the exercisers who were
guided to think about completing the program as a journey, walked close to 5500 more steps
during the three additional days. That’s a 55% increase in steps taken.>>In another study, we worked with
Stanford Seed Executive Education Program in the African country of Ghana. We gave one cohort of executives,
a journey for practice during the graduation ceremony. They were asked to think about
what they achieved as a journey. Another cohort was instructed to think
about their graduation as a destination. We also had a control cohort, who wasn’t asked to reflect at all,
during their graduation ceremony. The Stanford Seed program then tracked
these executives business practices for six months after graduation. The executives who used the journey
metaphor to think about their achievements were more likely to put their learning
into practice when leading their companies after they left the program.>>What’s important here is that when you
look back at your past achievements as a journey, instead of
a destination reached, that mindset helps you to recognize and learn from
the ups and downs along the path, inducing a feeling of growth and
feeling positive behaviors moving forward.>>But this doesn’t mean that
the destination mindset is without value, it can be beneficial during
the actual pursuit of a goal. When you are in the middle
of pursuing a goal, it is important to have a North Star,
or destination in mind. It helps you sharpen focus and
work harder. However, when you achieve the goal, this
research shows it helps to shift mindsets. And take a moment to think about what
you have accomplished, as a journey.>>In this life success
isn’t the short run win, it’s the behavior that you adopt
after you achieve your goal. And a dirty mindset helps you stay
focused on that type of success. So, real success comes down to
anchoring on the right destination and embracing the journey. But remember to look back on the journey,
in order to move forward.

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