In How to Have a Good Day, economist and former McKinsey partner Caroline Webb shows readers how to use recent findings from behavioral economics, psychology, and neuroscience to transform our approach to everyday working life.
1. Setting intentional direction direction for your day
An excellent way to reinforce your positive intentions, strangely enough, is to make sure you spend a little time on the negatives. By this, I mean thinking honestly about what’s likely to get in the way of achieving your goals, so you can address those obstacles head-on. It’s a technique that’s call ‘mental contrasting’ because you’re comparing your ideal outcome with the pesky reality of day-to-day life.
2. Making the hours in the day go further
In case thinking about the costs of the status quo isn’t enough, research suggests there’s an effective way of making inaction look even less appealing: by making a public commitment to getting something done.
Oxford University neuroscientist Molly Crockett has shown that, even when there’s no public pronouncement, pre-commitment works better than willpower alone when people are trying to resist temptation; in other words, it’s easier to resist watching cat videos when you’ve thought ahead and blocked several of your favorite cat video sites.
3. Making the most of every interaction
Arthur Aron, a psychology professor at Stony Brook University, wouldn’t have been surprised to hear Johan’s story. His research has showed that less than an hour of reciprocal disclosure is enough to create remarkable closeness between strangers. On a scale of 1 to 7, hundreds of volunteers rated their ‘deepest’ relationship as a 4.65 for closeness. After talking about their answers to personal questions for forty-five minutes, random pairs rated their closeness as 3.82–not all that much lower.
The upshot: if you’re trying to buid rapport, be willing to reveal a little of yourself.
4. Being your smartest, wisest, most creative self
It can be as simple as framing the task as an open question–simply pausing and asking. ‘What’s the right way to solve this, ideally?’ When I feel frustrated by a lack of progress, I often find that’s enough to put me in a more exploratory mindset.
I also like rhetorical questions that invite us to set aside barriers that might be narrowing our thinking. For example, ‘If you knew the answer, what would it be?’ Or ‘If you had no constraints, what would you do?’