But here’s how you can make sure you finish first next time
Science has finally shed some light on why you blow so many competitions late in the game: Motivation to win starts to wane just when you think coming out on top is attainable, according to new research from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
In the study, researchers had participants compete against each other in a game of color memorization and recall.
They discovered that when the competition was just beginning, people in the lead spent more time memorizing the colors.
But as the competition went on, those who were winning actually spent less time memorizing the colors.
Their motivation—and their behavior—likely flagged because they believed winning required less effort as the competition went on, the researchers say.
In the early phases of a competition, you’re uncertain about your participants, and are unsure whether winning is actually a possibility.
So when you jump out in the lead early on, your motivation spikes, since you believe winning is attainable. But as the competition drags on, your motivation wanes, since you believe you need to expend less effort to win.
The best thing you can do to keep your motivation humming along is to look away from yourself in the lead, and instead focus on another high standard, like your own awesome performance in a previous competition.
That way, you’ll be prompted to give the task at hand more effort, since you haven’t yet reached the standards of what you’re comparing yourself to, according to the press release.
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