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Category Archive: change

The belief that you can change your emotions is good for you

Beliefs About Emotion: Links to Emotion Regulation, Well-Being, and Psychological Distress

Krista De Castella et al. (2013)


Abstract: People differ in their implicit beliefs about emotions. Some believe emotions are fixed (entity theorists), whereas others believe that everyone can learn to change their emotions (incremental theorists). We extend the prior literature by demonstrating (a) entity beliefs are associated with lower well-being and increased psychological distress, (b) people’s beliefs about their own emotions explain greater unique variance than their beliefs about emotions in general, and (3) implicit beliefs are linked with well-being/distress via cognitive reappraisal. These results suggest people’s implicit beliefs—particularly about their own emotions—may predispose them toward emotion regulation strategies that have important consequences for psychological health.


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Remove obstacles

Making progress in meaningful work is one of the most motivating factors for employees. Therefore, it is important to talk about and to describe desired and achieved progress, frequently. But did you know that negative occurrences such as setbacks and failures can have a  2 to 3 times stronger (negative) effect on motivation than positive factors? This was shown in a study by Amabile and Kramer.

Because negative events can have such a strong negative impact it is important to, whenever you can, prevent and take away any disturbing factors. Managers play an important role  in this. As a manager, by removing obstacles, you can enable motivated employees to make the progress they want to make. Here are four examples of such obstacles: Click here to read more »

Define ‘meaningful’

In 5 steps to harness the progress principle I mentioned the research finding that progress in meaningful work is extremely motivating. In other words, the more you think that your work contributes to what is valuable to you, the more motivating it will be for you to achieve progress in this work. To speak of meaningful work, means to go beyond a simple  task or results focus. To do meaningful work means that, as an employee, you have the feeling that completing the task or achieving the results is linked to an underlying purpose that is valuable to you. Here is an example.
Click here to read more »

5 steps to harness the progress principle

In their large-scale study, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer have discovered that making progress in meaningful work is a main contributor to a positive work life and to good performance (Read more about this study, here). Here are a few practical suggestions to harness the power of meaningful progress.

  1. Define ‘meaningful': It is progress in meaningful work which is so motivating. Therefore it is important to know what ‘meaningful’ means to you. You can do this by deliberate thinking about what is important to you at work and by discussing meaningfulness with colleagues and managers. Chances are, you will start to start to see the meaningfulness of your work better and maybe you will even manage to increase it. > More about this Click here to read more »

The test-and-learn approach appears to be associated with flourishing

Here are the results of a survey that I recently administered about how people think about change and approach change. The survey which was filled in by 96 people consisted of the following parts: 1) How do you think people can accomplish successful change?, 2) How do you approach change?, and 3) How do you view yourself and your circumstances? The goal of this study was to explore to which extent people’s mindset about change and their actual change behavior are somehow associated with several aspects of human flourishing. The overall expectation was that the test-and-learn approach would be associated with respondent’s flourishing.


1. Independent variables (1): thinking about successful change
How respondents thought about successful change was measured by two dimensions: 1) the plan-and-implement mindset, and 2) the test-and-learn mindset.  Click here to read more »

Goal self-concordance and mastery versus performance goals

Goal self-concordance moderates the relationship between achievement goals and indicators of academic adjustment


Patrick Gaudreau (2012)


Abstract: This study examined whether the good or bad outcomes associated with mastery- and performance-approach achievement goals depend on the extent to which these goals are pursued for self-concordant reasons. A sample of 220 undergraduate students completed measures of achievement goals, goal self-concordance, academic satisfaction, and academic anxiety before mid-term exams. A total of 115 participants completed a follow-up measure of their semester GPA. Results of moderated regressions revealed that mastery-approach goals were positively associated with academic satisfaction and performance, but only for students with high levels of mastery goal self-concordance. Performance-approach goals were also associated with higher performance, but only for students with high levels of performance goal self-concordance. Both types of goals were positively associated with anxiety for individuals with low levels of goal self-concordance. This study illustrates the importance of considering the joint influence of goal content and goal motivation in their association with consequential educational outcomes.

The Progress Paradox

In 2003 Gregg Easterbrook wrote a book named The Progress Paradox. How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse. He argued that, while objectively almost all aspects of Western life had become much better, most people actually felt worse. I agree that objectively, across the board, life has become better for most people in most places (example). I think the progress paradox is not necessarily that people have become less happy (I am not entirely sure but I think that even happiness of most people has become greater). Rather, the progress paradox, as I see it, is that while progress has happened people tend not to perceive it. Click here to read more »

The test-and-learn approach

In my post Combining practice based learning and theory based learning I suggested that self-directed learning at its best is characterized by a combination of what I call practice based learning and theory based learning. Practice based learning is learning on the basis of one’s own reflections on one’s own actions. Theory based learning is learning on the basis of systematic knowledge development by others. Click here to read more »

The art of wisdom is preparing oneself for a future of inconceivable possibilities

Recently some books have been published which paint an optimistic picture of the future. In The Rational Optimist Matt Ridley explains that over the course of history many things have become better and he argues that the future will be better instead of disasterous (which many people seem to think). In The Better Angels of Our Nature Steven Pinker has documented how violence has declined over long stretches of history and he predicts it will continue to do so. And in Abundance Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler explain technological advances which are now being made and prepared which, according to them, will have the ability to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet within decades. Click here to read more »

Taming the beast (case)

I got this interesting comment from Niklas Tiger:


I have been reading your blog for a while and I have really enjoyed it a lot. Your way of making SF understandable is brilliant! I am in the process of implementing SF skills into my organization, an IT company in northern Sweden with about 30 employees. We have been facing a problem that has been growing slowly over the years, that we have tried to address a number of times (but have never succeded in “taming the beast”). It’s an extremly complex IT-releated challenge that involves tons of different technology, processes and people. It also involves almost every aspect of our professional skills and knowledge and almost every employee in the company. We had recently come to the point where it is was so huge we didn’t even think it would be possible to EVER find a solutions to this – it would take time, effort, energy, money and a project so huge we couldn’t even imagine who would want to try… Overwhelming is an understatement. Click here to read more »

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