Recently I listened to author Daniel Pink’s podcast and in this session, he was interviewing Katy Milkman of the Wharton School of Management. Dr. Milkman wrote the book How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.
When I think of changing my own behavior, my first thought would be to get advice from others about how I can make the change as effectively as possible. Dr. Milkman suggests the opposite approach. Rather than taking advice, you should give advice about the change you want to personally make. She referenced studies that show that when we give advice on a goal that we also are trying to achieve, we are more confident that the goal can be achieved, we are more introspective than we otherwise might be about ways to accomplish the goal and, finally, as the giver of advice, we will strive to succeed that much more.
I’m intrigued by this idea and plan to try it myself but I think that many people, including me, may need another step before dispensing advice. First, they actually need to think about where they want to be! And I mean beyond some broad, 30,000 foot level. Most of us have some vague idea about the direction we want to go such as retiring at a specific age, being more philanthropic, or helping to save the planet. But, beyond these broad objectives, many have given little thought as to the specifics. So, I’m suggesting we all start to plan in a more specific, detailed way similar to how you would pitch a new idea to your employer or a customer. Start by outlining those broad areas and noting specific attributes for each. If it’s philanthropy, what is the goal? What charitable areas are meaningful to you? How can you identify quality, worthwhile organizations to support? How much do you want to give annually? Once you can answer these and many other questions, you can move to execution. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote in The Little Prince, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.”
You see, I just tried to do what Dr. Milkman said we should do. I actually do want to improve my philanthropy. So I thought about how one could be more intentional about charitable giving and advised on ways a person might want to approach that goal. Let's see if it works.
This week’s selection is:
The Last Archive
The Last Archive is a podcast about how we know what we know and why it seems, lately, as if we don’t know anything at all. Harvard historian Jill Lepore guides us through a series of investigations where the common theme is: “Who killed truth?” Why are people so reluctant to believe what is true? It sounds heavy but it isn’t, largely because of Lepore’s sense of humor and infectious enthusiasm.