June 27, 2011

Mental contrasting exercise

Gabrielle Oettingen has done much research into the effects of thinking about what you want to achieve. Through her research she found out that an optimal strategy for setting goals is to think positively about how things will be when you will have accomplished your goals while thinking realistically about what it will take to accomplish this. She calls this 'mental contrasting'.  First, you imagine that you will achieve your goal. Then, you focus on obstacles which are in your way.

Mental Contrasting produces different effects on goal committment depending on one's expectations for success. People who have high expectations of success (with respect to the goal that is being mental contrasted) increase goal committment in proportion to their expectations and those with low exepctations exeprience diminished commitment and even disengagement from a goal after mental contrasting.

Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of Succeed, described this mental contrasting exercise (which is especially relevant if you have high expectations for success):
  1. Grab your notebook or just a piece of paper, and write down a wish or concern you have currently. This can be something you are thinking of doing or something you are already involved with doing. 
  2. Now, think about what a happy ending would look like for this wish or concern. Write down one positive aspect of this happy ending. 
  3. Next, think about the obstacles that stand in the way between you and your happy ending. 
  4. Now list another positive aspect. 
  5. And another obstacle. 
  6. And another positive aspect. 
  7. And another obstacle. 

3 comments:

  1. I think it's important to note that Mental Contrasting produces different effects on goal committment depending on one's expectations for success in achieving the goal that's being mental contrasted. People who have high expectations of success increase goal committment in proportion to their expectations and those with low exepctations exeprience diminished commitment and even disengagement from a goal after mental contrasting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Rodney, thanks! I had overlooked this aspect. I'll add it to the post

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  3. Love this simple outline, Coert,and thanks for our addition, Rodney.

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