So it turns out that this blog, like many others just like it may actually be hindering rather than helping me on my crusade to become a published author. I started this blog a long time ago to overcome a few negative influences on my life and through outlining my problems I managed to triumph over the depression that was clinging to my heart and mind and become the man that I am today. Yet over time the purpose behind my posts moved away from overcoming the past and I set my sights towards the future.

I started to blog about my desire to become a published author and outlined the hurdles that stood in the way of my success. And when I did I felt great. With each successive view of my works by my followers or passer-by’s that stumbled across my site I felt a growing sense of success welling within me. I felt great when someone took the time out of their life to view my work and in that sense of elation lurked a hidden danger that could very nearly have derailed my journey to success.

I’m a TED fan. I enjoy watching videos of some of the world’s greatest minds as they stand before a congregation of their peers and share their research, their theories and themselves. Often times the talks I watch bare no direct correlation to my own life; I don’t have the capacity to see beyond the limitations of my own world, but I do enjoy watching others broaden my horizons ever so slightly. Yet every now and then a talk’s message will resonate deep within me and have me re-examining my writing, my actions, and my world.

Today I watched a talk by one of my favourite presenters: Derek Sivers. During the incredibly brief talk Sivers completely debunked conventional wisdom that sees us sharing our goals and ambitions with others – Just as I do on the pages of this blog. Sivers through the studies of social psychology’s founder Kurt Lewin (and subsequent theorists since) posited that through having another acknowledge your goals it created a social reality that tricked the mind into feeling as though the hard work required to achieve said goal was already done. But what the fuck does that even mean?

It means that when we experience the affirmation of our peers just for stating our goals we are less likely to actually follow through and actually achieve.

Take me for example. Every time I post a new entry I receive an influx of viewers to my site. They all read my works, and some choose to like a post or even send me a private message to tell me as much. When this happens it feels great. I feel as though I am succeeding and that my dreams of becoming a published author are within reach. But then after that sense of elation and success comes a dangerous slump; I get lazy. I become convinced that I’m getting closer to my dreams and can almost taste the success and further affirmation of my peers. I’ll receive a bunch of emails as testament of my small following growing in numbers and I’ll tell myself that rather than waking at the crack of dawn the following morning to write, I deserve to sleep in and give it a miss for a day or two.

But do I really deserve to take a break? Have I really achieved anything? Or is the mere affirmation of my goals by my peers creating a damaging behaviorism that if left unchecked will become the downfall of all my hard work? And if so, then how do I overcome it? Well, like any affliction the first step to overcoming is accepting. By accepting that I am allowing myself to fall into such a destructive thought pattern I can effectively neutralise the effects by making a conscious decision not to allow myself to feel accomplished through affirmation. That’s not to say that from now on I’m going to be a joyless prick, but rather I’m going to be acutely aware of the effects that positive reinforcement has on my craft.

Complacency has no place on the path to success. So with that being said I’ll be making sure that I set my alarm for tomorrow morning and wake up extra early to start pouring my mind out onto pages once again.

Author: Chris Nicholas

Chris Nicholas is an author from Brisbane, Australia. He has published two novels, and is currently working on his third.

2 thoughts on “Behaviorism”

  1. I love the image you included in this post, he’s so serene and stoic. I also think your writing is very captivating although I won’t compliment it too much so you don’t become too complacent 😉

  2. I have been hesitating in the past few years about telling other people about my projects, because I learned that most of the times I had done that before, I never followed through with my goals. I had thought of it as “don’t say anything until you have accomplished, otherwise you’ll seem like the kind of person that says a lot and doesn’t do anything”. But now I understand that it’s more profound than that. This post is very eye opening for me, and it’s good to know that there’s actually a good reason why I should keep my goals to myself, until they are accomplished.

    I also went to the TED site and saw the video, it’s amazing, and it makes so much sense, thank you!

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