I’ve just started an online MSc in Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health at Kings College London and I want to capture and share what I learn along the way. In doing so I hope to translate some of the heavier science into plain English and reach potential collaborators who I could work with in the future. I also want to use a blog as a journal and repository so that when it comes to my research project I have documentation of everything I found interesting and the people who were behind it.
Like many people, I’ve wanted to write a blog many times before but never have done — not consistently anyway. I’ve been scared of writing things unpolished and nervous that either:
A) No-one will read it or
B) If they do they’ll think it’s crap
The thing is, I’ll never get better at writing or never know if it’s useless unless I try.
So, why am I writing this rambling post without making a plan? Psychological theories of habit-forming tell us a few things which have inspired this terribly un-planned (and likely quite boring) post. I’m not doing this for you, I’m doing it for me.
Number 1 — the first step is the hardest. Just do it, whatever it is, and use that little momentum to build up to something with real energy that will sustain itself. For example, dentists are using this to advise us to “floss one tooth”. It’s unlikely after flossing one tooth you won’t do another.
Number 2 — overcome a fear of failure. It can feel as though if you do something bad you’ll become the laughing stock of the town, or the internet. In reality, that would be a pretty impressive accomplishment and the more likely scenario is that you just get ignored and forgotten about.
Number 3 — the Progress Principle. Theresa Amabile studied what makes successful and motivated teams and found that the act of acknowledging progress, however small, was an essential component in motivating future behaviour. There’s no doubt that regardless of how shit this post is, once I hit “publish” I’ll feel pretty good about it. You can use that feel good factor to fuel your next action.
All in all, I have to say that writing this was easier than I would have thought and it’s made me excited about writing the next one. However, I want to be cognizant of the fact that early enthusiasm can lead to burnout and I’m not sure what’s advised in that scenario.
What do you think? Is it better to make the most of when you feel motivated at the beginning of a project or set boundaries so it’s easier to maintain in the long run?