We tend to think that the world is as we see it.  After all, that’s the way we see it.  But the truth is that we have a number of mental filters and distortions that happen unconsciously that prevent us from seeing the world as it is.  In fact, it is more accurate to say that we see the world as we are.

That’s an interesting notion that can be difficult to wrap your brain around, but think about the following example.  Two people go to a party.  Person A is in a great mood and has a great time.  Person B is not feeling well and doesn’t have fun.  Of course, they’re going to have completely different experiences even though it was the same party.

That clearly makes sense with two people.  Two different moods…two different experiences.  But the same phenomena occurs within one person as well.  Research by Dr. Emily Balcitis and Dr. David Dunning suggest that our desires impact our perception as well.

Through their research, they found that when you want something, your perception of its distance from you is judged to be closer than when it is something you don’t want.  It is our brain’s way of saying you are almost there, if you try a little harder or go just a bit further you’ll have it.  Clearly, this illusion can be quite helpful.

Think about your goals.  But don’t just think about them, think about how you think about them.  Are they close, almost within your grasp?  If not, what would happen if you were to make them closer, would that make you more motivated?  If you’re like most people, it will.  Remember, the next time you hear yourself say, “I’m so close I can almost taste it,” understand that’s your brain’s way of getting you going.

John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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