Long-term goals don’t always get the attention they deserve because our minds can do weird things and make them seem so distant. By framing your goals as being a number of days away, instead of years, you might feel more inclined to take action towards them.
Picture: Dennis Skley
It’s easy to procrastinate doing something when you know you have a whole year to get it done, but a recent study suggests that telling yourself you have only 365 days instead, can get you into gear. The study, published in the journal Psychological Science and led by Neil A. Lewis Jr and Daphna Oyserman, suggests that people feel like events and deadlines are closer when they think of them in smaller units. For example, when participants were asked when they would start saving for their retirement — 30 years out or 10,950 days out — participants with the days scenario planned to start saving four times sooner than the those told to think in terms of years.
Even though the number for days is much higher, the length of a day is much easier for us to perceive. Plus the countdown of a day — like crossing a day off a calendar — is a much more consistent reminder that time is moving on. So if you have a long-term goal to plan, consider thinking of it in terms of days, not years. You might find yourself wanting to take action sooner, and it never hurts to get started early.
When Does the Future Begin? Time Metrics Mater, Connecting Present and Future Selves [the journal Psychological Science via Association for Psychological Science]