Ian Price | Head Start

Avatar Ben Fower | 17/12/2018

Ian Price, psychologist and author of ‘Head Start’ joined us at the studio to discuss his book.

Hi, I’m Ian Price. I’m a performance psychologist and author of Head Start: Build A Resilient Mindset So You Can Achieve Your Goals. The goal the book has in mind might be work goals some overarching professional objective but also goals for life outside work. It might be something that has always been in the ‘I’ve always wanted to category’ and now we’re going to help move that into my goal is too.

So how does it do that? Well, the book has something I call the 3 B’s the first B stands for beliefs. And these are often negative self-limiting beliefs. They might include I’m not good enough. I can’t do that. I don’t have the talent. I don’t have the time.

The second b stands for behaviours. Behaviours are very closely interrelated with beliefs and they might include I start with good intentions, but I quit, I get distracted. I mean to do these things, but I don’t put them off, I procrastinate. So, we need to work on those beliefs and behaviours. We need to reframe some of those negative beliefs and make them more positive self-affirming ones and then work on some of our behaviours.

Once we’ve done that the third b. Stands for best practice. What can we learn from high achievers and a whole range of activities including sport about what really helps us improve our personal effectiveness towards goal achievement?

Everything I’ve talked about in The Three B’s is evidence-based. It comes from the science from neuroscience from psychology particularly sports psychology. And that makes it distinct from what we’ve traditionally seen in self-help which isn’t science-based and has two broad themes to it. The first of these is simply positivity being positive thinking positively visualizing positive outcomes. And the second is motivation boosting our motivation, maybe through listening to sports stars speaking for example, and it turns out that when the science examines these, we’ve got everything back to front with self-help. It’s not about artificially boosting these two it’s more about building them from the bottom up. So, let me explain a little bit what I mean by that by starting with this idea of visualizing our outcome goal.

So, if we decide that we’re going to indulge in visualizing where we ultimately want to get to that might be quite pleasant, but it turns out that the science tells us it doesn’t help us get there. In fact, if anything it gets in the way German psychologist, Gabriella outing gun was discovered that indulging in visualizing our end goal actually impedes execution. So, if we look at the work of Angela Duckworth, what we need is a structured goal hierarchy.

So this at the top might be our outcome goal and we then need mid-level goals. But crucially beneath our mid-level goals. We need something else. And these are the process goals on which we’re going to work on, on a daily basis and I think as I say sport is more advanced than maybe other aspects of life in this regard because if you take tennis as an example, British professionals have one very clear outcome goal that’s kind of confronted from day one and that’s Wimbledon so they’re frequently asked as soon as they get on the tour when you’re going to win Wimbledon. This was something that Johanna Konta, for example, found really quite off-putting and quite a distraction until she figured out a goal hierarchy which allowed her to focus on her process goals, which might be just what am I going to do tomorrow? What am I going to do with my hitting partner am I going to hit 200 forehands? With the help of a psychologist she built what she called a process mindset, and this contributed to her vaulting up the rankings from Below 250 to at one point 4 in the world.

So, what about motivation? This idea that we should be trying to lift our motivation at any time if you look at the work of behavioural scientists BJ Fogg, it turns out that amping our motivation doesn’t work at all and he’s developed a model of behavioural change that says we need to work on our goals when I motivation is high rather than when it’s low. But also, we need to choose goals that are easy to do. So, our ability needs to be high as well. And this is consistent with what we’ve just discovered with process goals. So, if we pick one our motivation is high and when our ability is high, and these might be very small baby steps. Then we are on this side of the curve which means we will actually achieve some of our goals.

So, let me bring this to life with the example of the book that I just mentioned because this book was written in one-hour slots Monday to Friday. My motivation is highest first thing in the morning because I’m a lark in the evening not so much. So, I got up early every day and from 7:00 till 8:00. I spent an hour working exclusively on my book, and I gave myself a baby step an easy process goal a 500-word target and in a few months, the first draft was delivered.

So, let go of trying to amp motivation and visualizing your goals, boosting positivity. Think about your process goals and work bottom up and that way you really will get to your outcome.

Thank you.

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