The Decisive Role Of Future Self-Image In Motivation
Such is the conclusion of a study conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California.
In an experiment, they worked with school students who showed no significant difference in terms of grades, attendance and behavior.
A test group of students took part for 12 weeks in activities that taught them to consider their identity and activities in the present and future (up to their adulthood). At the end of the experiment, they had changed much more than the members of the control group, getting better grades, spending more time on their homework and having better attendance at school.
The new perspective they had acquired helped them consider the obstacles they face as “important rather than impossible” and see schoolwork “in terms of advancing their lives.”
Several follow-up studies conducted with college students delivered comparable results.
They also showed that thinking about the future in days rather than years leads students to anticipate its preparation because they feel closer to their future self: On average, they started planning for their future four times sooner.
All in all, these studies underline that our perception of the future can be changed in order to enhance what the researchers call “identity-based motivation”. It can have a positive impact on our motivation by making the future feel more relevant.
This is a very useful lesson for managers. Indeed, as I regularly explain on Superception, the fundamental role of a manager, regardless of their hierarchical level and team’s size, is to inspire their employees to invent and build a common future.