“Will I?” or “I will.”  Which one seems stronger. At first glance, the “I will” has a much stronger stance. It is solid.

Stronger or not, the real question is, “Which statement produces better results?”

Now it is not often that new ways to approach goal setting make their way onto the scene, but psychologist Ibrahim Senay has done just that.  In his research, Senay studied the impact of self-talk on goal attainment in a variety of contexts.

One of his goals was to compare the difference between the impact of “Will I?” vs. “I will.” Interestingly enough, he found that the question, rather than the statement produced better results.

Now, the phrase, “I will.” has some power to it. It is commanding and definitive.

The question of “Will I” sounds open and uncertain. However, if you think about it, if something is as good as done, perhaps there are some things that are missing in that situation versus a situation in which it may or may not.

Exercise is one of the areas in which Senay examined the effectiveness of the statement versus the question and here too the question was more effective.

I Will

If I say, I will work out, it has a finality to it and could be even a little threatening. Think back to being told that you will finish your homework before you go outside with your friends.

Will I?

However, if I say, will I work out?  The question gets me thinking. Will I or won’t I? There’s certainly no threat. And my brain begins to wonder and thinks about the different scenarios about what would have to happen in order to exercise.

Furthermore, if you think about it, who is the only person who can answer the question of whether or not I’m going to work out? That’s right, me. So the question puts me in control.

I know that many of us have set goals before, even said the words “I will.” And if you did, great.

However, if for some reason the goal is not being achieved, here’s another approach. Consider the power of the question.

Get your brain working, understand that you’re in complete control of your behaviors and make it happen or perhaps it would be better to just consider whether or not you’re going to make it happen.

Kinetic goals, that’s what it is all about. Goals with movement.


John Ryan

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

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