You realize you're out of eggs while preparing breakfast the morning before work. You make a mental note to go to the grocery store after. You spend the day at work working on the same project you have been working on for the past two weeks, and after hearing from the client about the project, you learn that you have an estimated three more weeks of working on it. You come home after a long day, only to remember the next morning that you forgot to buy the eggs.
Most of us aren’t strangers to scenarios of this nature, and in Nevada Public Radio’s Hidden Brain Episode, "The Mind’s Eye" Psychologist Emily Balcetis explores the different techniques to manipulate what we see to shape what we do.
Balcetis brings an example of Joan Benoit Samuelson, the woman who won the gold medal at the first-ever women’s Olympic marathon. Her “secret power”? Narrowed focus; the first technique of goal setting. She says that while she’s running, she chooses a target ahead of her, something that stands out, and narrows her attention to there. If the target is a light pole, all she sees is that light pole until she passes that mark and sets another goal to focus her attention on. Over 26 miles is broken down into smaller competitions that she has set for herself. As a result, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming.
For larger projects and long-term goals, where “the finish line” is farther away, the day-to-day feels like you are working towards an endless void. Setting small goals and focusing on them isn’t unambitious, it is the complete opposite.
Every day you meet one goal you have set for yourself, is another day to boost your self-esteem and own sense of accountability. Getting caught up in the monotony of every day is simple—sometimes we need to track our progress to have the motivation to keep going.
Another technique Emily introduces is called materializing. She says it is to transform something invisible and turn it into something tangible, immediate, and mentally visible. A goal feels intangible until we take the steps to complete them. In the same way, we need to visibly track our progress, we also need to see a concrete visual of what the goal is altogether. An example she gives is the items on our mental to-do lists that we tell ourselves we will get to once we have some free time, and never quite get to, like telling yourself you will go to the gym tonight if you have time, or that you will buy eggs on your way home from work. Whereas missing a 2:00 scheduled meeting doesn’t feel optional because it’s on your calendar, you feel a sense of obligation. You aren’t materializing your goals alone, but you are materializing your responsibilities to reach your goals.
As structural engineers, our work leads to a bigger picture. At Innova, we help our clients reach their end goals by creating a process that we are able to track together. Our clients' ideas begin as concepts, and we work together to bring them to life.
We are in the business of materializing goals, transforming concepts into structural drawings, and bringing vision to reality.