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Leveraging Our Emotional Goals

Published 5/27/2020

In today's episode, we're talking about goals and what we tend to give up in order to reach those goals. We'll cover how to define goals, and how to keep going toward your goals when motivations run thin.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
What are you willing to give up for your goals? In this episode, I'm not trying to inspire you to have the gumption to give something up. Of course, there are plenty of other podcast episodes that will do that for you. In today's episode, instead, I want to talk about goals and what we tend to give up and substitute for those goals. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. You're listening to Developer Tea and my goal on this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. It's interesting how often we talk about goals. In fact, every episode of this show now starts with me talking about my goal for this show. But the truth is that when we try to define a goal, what comes to mind and what we might write down or tell another person are two totally different things. I want you to think about a goal that you've set recently or maybe a goal that you've had in the past year. When you think about that goal, what comes to mind? Is it a number? Is it a particular outcome that can be measured? If you're like virtually everyone else, then instead, what comes to mind is a picture. And that picture comes along with some sense of emotion. And when we're talking about emotion here, we're not necessarily talking about the tear-jurking kind of emotion, but instead some kind of feeling. The feeling of accomplishment or the feeling of success is often what is actually our goal. This is why it is so important to actually vividly imagine what your goals are or more accurately what it would look like on the day that you achieve that goal. But there's some insidious things happening when we do this. The first thing that happens is we trick ourselves into believing that the feeling that we get, that feeling of accomplishment, whatever that picture is in our heads, that it will perpetuate into infinity. And that we will continue to have that same feeling and in fact it will only get better than once we reach that particular goal that that is some kind of finish line. And it may be in some ways some kind of finish line. For example, some of these kinds of finish lines might be getting to retirement age. These are the kinds of finish lines that we imagine often the distance that are rewarding to us. But most of the time our finish lines seem to look better than they really will be. Our sense of accomplishment will fade and our feeling of arrival will quickly turn into a feeling of stagnation. And this isn't to discourage you from your goals, but instead to remind you that most of our goals, we motivate ourselves based on fleeting emotional experiences rather than on some new reality. We're going to talk about how we can use this to our advantage right after we talk about today's sponsor, Zebrand. Zebrand is the all-in-one branding generator for jump starting your business. Zebrand helps you launch a product with minimum visual brand design resources without having your own internal designers, costly agencies, or questionable freelancers. With Zebrand, you can launch your product without investing too much time and money on branding, which means your team can give 100% of their focus to actually developing the product itself. Now, by asking some simple questions about your product, Zebrand's AI-based algorithm will generate uniquely tailored brand toolkits full of branding and marketing essentials, including fonts, color palettes, pitch deck templates, and much more. Zebrand is easy to use and is free to get started, so imagine just how low the risk has been trying this out. Branding alignment and consistency across your collateral is cool, professional, and it makes it easy for your team to rally in unite under one branding identity. Setting up your brand with Zebrand only takes five minutes and you'll have instant access to your assets to start showcasing your product today. Head over to zebranding.com. That's zebranding.com. Thanks again to Zebrand for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So I want to take a minute and back up and talk about for a moment why our written down goals differ so much from the actual goals in our minds. Pictures are an overwhelmingly powerful thing that often causes to think in essentially irrational ways. This is why even though we have all of the data necessary to refute this idea, it seems like far more people die in aircraft crashes than do in car crashes. The mental images that we either see or generate for ourselves tend to override our more reasonable faculties. And so when we set goals, we often use those mental images to establish the goal itself. Rather than starting from numbers and then generating those mental images in some perfectly rational way, we start the other direction. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this picture was to become a reality? And here is the crux of this conversation. When we state our goals, we often, without actually explicitly stating it, are also explaining the path to get there. Not every single step of the way, but the general path. For example, if we say that we want to build an MVP of our new idea, then we imagine some kind of romanticized version of the road to get to that MVP. Most of the time as engineers, we imagine solving those hard problems and powering through with our caffeine fueled late nights to crank out an MVP product. However, if I could snap my fingers and have the MVP in front of me, if I could somehow remove all of that struggle and remove all of the kind of romantic lore around building the MVP, something about the picture of that accomplishment changes, something about the emotional state changes. And so it may begin to feel like we've somehow short-changed our goals. But in fact, the end point, the end product, may look exactly the same as it did before. So here's how I recommend that you use this to your advantage, because it's incredibly hard to suppress this. A lot of our goals are actually not about the end reality that we're seeking. A lot of our goals are also about the process that we use to get there and the feelings that we'll have when we get there and also the perception of others once we get there, the perception that they have of us in our social lives and our personal lives. So we have to recognize that this is something that is deeply ingrained in our humanity. So why don't we instead of trying to reject it or suppress it, use it in a more reasonable way? So here's what I recommend that you do. And it's the core emotions that actually align with the new reality that you care about. Very few people who are listening to this show have no ambition to change their reality. And so if you can find the emotions that correlate with that specific change, right? So imagine what is the change in reality and why does that change provoke some kind of emotional state for me? Once you create that kind of connection between the actual change and the emotion, rather than the perception or the journey or whatever it is that is kind of tangential to your goal, if instead you can directly connect the emotion to the change itself, then your motivation will be much longer lasting and you can be more flexible in the journey. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Thank you again to today's sponsor Zbrand, head over to zbranding.com to get started today. You can have assets for your brand in just five minutes. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode. If you enjoyed this episode, I encourage you to subscribe and whatever podcasting app you're currently using today's episode and every other episode of Developer Teacan be found at spec.fm. Today's episode was produced by Sarah Jackson. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and until next time, enjoy your tea.