Research from the National Australia Bank (NAB) found that 3 in 4 Australians don’t have a firm idea about what they want from life and 41% rarely or never set goals. The research found that the reason for this was because we don’t give ourselves time to talk about what we really want.
The 1 in 10 Australians who admit they do talk to themselves frequently about what they want are 29% more likely to achieve their financial goals, the study concluded – proving there is a benefit to come from having a conversation with yourself now and then.
We caught up with Australian psychologist and mother-of-two Sabina Read to discuss how you can start having a conversation with yourself and achieve your goals.
How can talking to yourself help you set and achieve goals?
When our lives get busy, scheduling time for ourselves is difficult. Yet, making time for ourselves to reflect and identify our goals really helps us to understand what we want to get out of life. Professional sports people and children talk to themselves all the time to help redirect their behaviour and achieve goals.
We know that the inner monologues we have with ourselves help to organise our thoughts and consolidate memories; and speaking to ourselves out loud is thought to further improve the control we have over a task.
How do we begin the conversation with ourselves?
It can seem daunting to start these conversations, but there are some easy steps you can take to kickstart the process.
- Ask yourself meaningful questions that make you stop, think and reflect – this can be done before bed or talking to yourself in the mirror
- Keeping a journal of your conversations – writing things down is great way to reflect on your goals and progression
- Talk to yourself internally – self-talk doesn’t have to be out loud. It can be an internal dialogue that helps you keep on track with your goals
- Replace the word “should” with “choose” – Should is loaded with guilt and pressure and is usually influenced by the perceived or real pressures of other people; compared to choose which is backed by a sense of personal agency and accountability
How often should we do this for best effects?
It’s not about how often you talk to yourself but being mindful of when and how we are talking. Keep your dialogue positive and from time to time asking yourself a few challenging questions that help you think more deeply about what you want at this time in your life.
What are some of the evidence supporting the benefits of talking to yourself?
Psychological research tells us that self-talk can help with memory recall, confidence and focus.
According to new research released by NAB, Australians who talk to themselves consider themselves to be successful in personal, professional and financial areas of their life. Aussies who talk to themselves about their financial goals are significantly more likely to achieve them than those who don’t – so it’s time to start talking.
How else can people work to establish and achieve goals?
Our goals often change across the lifespan so it’s important to regularly check in with yourself, to ensure you’re focused and engaged with goals that feel relevant and meaningful.
- Be very clear to set goals that are underpinned by what you are wanting to move towards rather than what you are trying to avoid or move away from
- Try to observe the thinking patterns that may be keeping you stuck, and find ways to challenge unhelpful or faulty thinking to create new and more adaptive neural pathways.
- Tap into achievable goals that are based on intrinsic drivers. If our goals feel too out of reach or irrelevant, we may try to cheat our way to change, which inevitably results in a sense of failure and self-criticism so
- Swap long-term goals for bite-sized habits you can adopt TODAY – every moment of feel-good success rewards us, which encourages us to repeat the desired behaviour again and again, thereby increasing chances of longer-term behaviour change.