Day Four of My Blogging Break: This Time, I Agree with Dan Ariely

It seems that lately, I haven’t agreed much with Dan Ariely’s advice to his readers. But this time I do, and in fact, I am going to urge all of you to follow his advice as well. I’ll even give you an example of how to do so.

Here is the letter Dan received:

I’m mentoring a high-school student who is just starting to think about college. He attended an information session and came away overwhelmed by all the tasks he needs to complete. He’s feeling discouraged by the complexity and having a hard time getting started. What can I do to help motivate him? —Hal

And here is Dan’s response:

The college admissions process can be overwhelming, and when we’re overwhelmed, it is hard to get going, because any step we might take feels trivial compared with what still lies ahead.

To counteract that drop-in-the-bucket feeling, it can help to change your perception of progress. A study demonstrated this idea through coffee purchases. Some customers were given 10-punch cards specifying that if they bought 10 cups of coffee, they would get one cup for free. Researchers found that as customers got closer to the free cup, they bought coffee more frequently. They also found that if they gave customers 12-punch cards, but with the first 2 punches premarked (effectively making them 10-punch cards), coffee-drinkers purchased their beverages faster. The sense that we are already moving forward helps motivate us to continue advancing toward our goals.

With this observation in mind, you should point out to your mentee all that he has accomplished already, including the time he has spent pursuing extracurricular activities, getting good grades and attending the information session. Suggest that these are steps he has completed in the college admissions process and that he just needs to take the next ones, one at a time.

I like the story of the coffee purchases, as well as telling the student about all the things he has already completed that are part of the admissions process. It would seem to make the process much less daunting.

I completely agree that making progress towards a goal provides motivation to keep going.

So with that in mind, here’s how you can get some practice.

If you’ve read this far, it means:

  1. you follow this blog
  2. you clicked on the title to read the post
  3. you’ve read the post

So now you might as go all the way and click the like button…

Kind of easy, wasn’t it… and greatly appreciated…

P.S. By the way, I noticed that my Rubik’s Cube video from a couple of days ago did not load properly when I originally posted it. In case you are interested, here is the video: