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凡事追求目标有什么错?

更新时间:2017-12-15 13:36:23 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why we should all give up on goals already
凡事追求目标有什么错?

To be successful or fulfilled, we all know you need to have specific goals.

众所周知,如果想要成功或满足,就需要制定具体的目标。

To achieve them, you should visualise, plan your steps there and attach deadlines and incentives. Work hard, even if you hate the work. And never stray from the path.

想要实现这些目标,就应该进行可视化处理,规划每个步骤,然后附带截止日期和激励因素。即使你憎恨工作,仍要努力工作。而且永远不要偏离正途。

But that outlook, say a growing number of academic researchers, career coaches and thought leaders, isn’t only flawed; it may also, ironically, be keeping us from success.

但颇具讽刺意味的是,越来越多的学术研究人员表示、职业教练和思想领袖认为,这种观点不仅存在瑕疵, 甚至会阻碍我们成功。

“We get so emotionally attached to a goal that we’re setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment,” says business advisor, author and speaker Stephen Shapiro. “The key for success is, if you have somewhere you’d like to be in five years, don’t be so attached to it that it drives everything you do.”

"我们在情感上很依赖这个目标,甚至为失败和失望做好了准备。"史蒂芬·夏皮罗(Stephe Shapiro)说,"成功的关键是,如果你想在5年内去什么地方,不要过于依赖这个目标,避免让它左右了你的所有行为。"

If that makes you say Huh?, you’re not alone. It bucks the self-help industry’s staple advice, not to mention what most of us were told by family and peers growing up.

你听到这番理论后是否感觉很惊讶?其实像你这样的人不在少数。这是励志行业的主要建议,更何况家人和朋友也会在我们成长过程中提供类似的建议。

It’s true that decades of research show that goals can get you to work harder, focus more and perform better. But they also can kill your creativity, make you more likely to cheat, and less likely to thrive.

数十年来的研究的确表明,目标可以促使你在工作时更努力,更专注,并取得更好的业绩。但目标同样也会扼杀创造力,导致你投机取巧,而不是茁壮成长。

“Goals in themselves aren’t bad,” says Lisa Ordonez, vice dean at University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. “It’s how we treat them.”

"目标本身不是坏事,"亚利桑那大学埃勒管理学院副院长丽莎·奥多尼兹(Lisa Ordonez)说,"关键要看你如何对待目标。"

One of the first problems is the targets people choose, experts say. Many aren’t necessarily our own ambitions, but what we think we should do.

专家表示,最重要的事情之一就是人们选择的目标。很多目标未必是我们自己的雄心壮志,而是我们认为自己应该做什么。

That disconnect shows up even in the most basic example of what people want versus what they strive for. Most people say their main goal in life is to be happy. But while research has shown that happiness results from simple things like expressing gratitude rather than buying a bigger house, or by prioritising family over career, our ambitions often focus on the latter. Worse, we may sacrifice personal relationships to get there – even though that’s the kind of trade-off most people come to regret.

这种脱节甚至还会显现在最基本的例子中,一边是人们想要什么,另一边是人们努力争取什么。多数人都表示,他们生活中的主要目标就是为了幸福。但虽然研究表明,幸福来自表达谢意这些简单的事情,而不是买套大房子。或者,虽然我们嘴上说自己更重视家庭,而不是事业,但往往仍会把重点放在后者身上。更糟糕的是,我们可能牺牲人际关系来达成自己的野心——尽管多数人都会因为这样的取舍而感到后悔。

Chasing outcomes

追求结果

There’s a bigger difficulty. For most of us, goals are outcomes: we want to become a lawyer, say, or get married.

此外还有更大的麻烦。对多数人来说,目标就是结果:例如,我们想要成为律师,或者想要结婚。

Until you’ve achieved them, though, you can’t know if your goals will improve your life. And even if the present-you would find it fulfilling, it’s impossible to know if future-you will. As life coach and consultant Stever Robbins points out, many of us set life goals in our teens or 20s. But, he says, would you really trust your life to a 20-year-old?

但在你达成目标之前,都无法知道这些目标能否改善自己的生活。即便现在的你感觉很满足,但也不可能知道未来的你是否也会这样。身为生活教练和咨询师的史蒂夫·罗宾斯(Stever Robbins)指出,我们很多人都会在十几二十岁的时候制定人生目标。但他表示,你真的放心把自己的人生交给一个20岁的年轻人吗?

Plus, when you achieve one goal, you immediately… move on to another. The same is true of short-term goals. “When you get there, it’s like, What’s next?,” Shapiro says. “We’re in a spiral of trying to find out the next thing to keep us in action.”

另外,当你达到一个目标时,就会立刻转向另外一个目标。短期目标同样如此。"当你达到目标时,就会想,下一个目标是什么?"夏皮罗说,"我们陷入了一个漩涡,总是不断寻找下一个目标,好让自己不断行动。"

That focus on outcome alone feeds into a hamster-wheel mentality. The Bhagavad Gita, the fundamental Hindu text, communicated the downside of this perpetual motion 2,200 years ago: “Those who are motivated only by desire for the fruits of action are miserable, for they are constantly anxious about the results of what they do.”

如果单纯关注结果,就会让我们陷入仓鼠转轮心态。《薄伽梵歌》(Bhagavad Gita)是印度教的重要经典,它在2,200年前就阐述了制定永恒目标的不足之处:"单纯渴求结果的人是痛苦的,因为他们总是为了结果感到焦虑。"

Meanwhile, some of the world’s most successful people know that you don’t need to focus on an outcome to achieve it. Take Oprah Winfrey, the US’s third-wealthiest self-made woman. To get to a $3.1 billion net worth, you might imagine that money must have been a main goal. Her secret? "The reason I've been able to be so financially successful is my focus has never, ever for one minute been money,” she’s said.

与此同时,世界上最成功的一些人也知道,他们不需要通过关注结果来达成目标。在美国白手起家的女富豪中排名第三的奥普拉·温弗瑞(Oprah Winfrey)就是一个例子。你或许认为,要达到31亿美元的净资产,赚钱必然是主要目标。但她的秘诀究竟是什么?她曾说过:"我之所以能在财务上取得成功,是因为我的重点从来都不是赚钱。"

In fact, focusing on the outcome may make you even less likely to meet it.

事实上,关注结果反而有可能降低你达成目标的概率。

“These self-help books… give you the advice that if you want to lose weight, post a picture of yourself on the fridge that shows you at a weight you’d really like to be again,” says Alexandra Freund, a University of Zurich psychology professor who researches goal pursuit. “What I find in my research is that it’s actually better, in terms of achieving these outcomes, if you do not focus on them.”

"这些励志书……给你的建议是,如果你想减肥,那就要把自己的照片放在冰箱上,用这张照片显示出你想要再次达到的体重。"苏黎世大学心理学教授亚历珊德拉·弗洛因德(Alexandra Freund)说,她专门研究目标追求问题。"我通过研究发现,从能否达成目标的角度来看,如果你不关注目标,结果反而更好。"

Even visualisation – picturing the outcome you want – can be damaging. Researchers found that people who visualise their goals are less likely to achieve them, perhaps because they trick their brain into thinking they’ve already done the work. (What works much better is ‘mental contrasting’, whereby you visualise not only a positive outcome, but the negative reality you want to change).

即便是视觉化——例如画出你想要的结果——也会产生破坏。研究人员发现,将自己的目标视觉化的人达成目标的概率较低,或许是因为他们欺骗大脑,使之认为他们已经完成了工作。(更好的方法是'心理对照',不能仅仅将积极的结果视觉化,还应该把你希望改变的负面现状也进行视觉化处理。)

Take weight loss. If you’ve ever dieted, the findings of this study won’t surprise you: when participants who wanted to lose weight slipped up, they were more likely to say ‘I blew it’… and have another piece of cake. But when those who focused on the process of eating more healthily gave into temptations they were more likely to compensate afterwards. As a result, the people who focused less on their goal were more likely to meet it.

以减肥为例,如果你曾经有过节食的经历,这项研究的结果就不会令你感到吃惊:当想要减肥的参与者犯错时,他们更有可能说"我搞砸了"……然后再吃一块蛋糕。但那些更关注健康饮食的人面临诱惑时,更有可能事后补偿。因此,不太关注目标的人反而更能达成目标。

Other research has made similar findings. Study participants who missed a savings goal were more likely to overspend later than those who hadn’t, while subjects who missed a deadline for an assignment were more likely to fail to complete it at all.

其他研究也得出了类似的结论。未能达到储蓄目标的志愿者比没有这种经历的人更有可能在今后超支,而错过一项任务的截止日期的人也更有可能完全无法完成的任务。

Instead of focusing on your goal, the key may be to learn to focus on process – and forget the outcome entirely.

关键不应该关注目标,而是应该学会关注过程——并且彻底忘掉结果。

Blinders on

盲目

To make matters more confusing, you can forget setting yourself nice, easily attainable targets to achieve your objectives and shield yourself against the negative effects of slipping up. Research shows that tough, specific goals get better results than easy, vague ones. Meanwhile, Freund and others have found that the only participants who got a happiness boost from hitting a target were those who thought it would be difficult to reach.

令问题更加复杂的是,你可能忘记了一件事情:你其实给自己设置了容易达成的目标,以便让自己获得成就感,避开因为失败带来的负面影响。研究表明,难以达成的具体目标的效果好于简单而模糊的目标。与此同时,弗洛因德和其他人发现,唯一能通过达成目标提升幸福感的志愿者,是那些认为目标很难达成的人。

Easy goals also can limit us. “The weird thing about a goal is that, when you meet it, it doesn’t matter whether you meet it or exceed it by a ton. If your goal is a 5% increase in market share, and you had the opportunity to go further, you find people slack off,” Ordonez says.

简单的目标也会给我们带来局限。"关于目标,有个奇怪的现象:只要能达成目标即可,至于你究竟是刚刚达成还是远超目标,其实并不重要。如果你的目标是把市场份额增加5%,而你有机会进一步增加,你就会发现人们会偷懒。"奥多尼兹说。

That relates to the other risk of goal-setting: its focus.

这就牵扯到制定目标的另外一个风险:关注点。

Of course, that’s the point. If your goal is to be a doctor and someone asks if you want to train as a carpenter, you’ll say no. But a blinkered focus on a singular ambition can have unintended consequences.

当然,目标确实是重点。如果你的目标是成为一名医生,而有人问你是否想要接受木匠培训,你肯定会拒绝。但过于狭窄的焦点可能会产生意外的后果。

In her research on goal-setting, Ordonez found that corporate incentives may boost performance, but employees also become more likely to cheat, act selfishly, feel demotivated and even be less likely to learn what they’re supposed to. What she and her co-researchers have found is so compelling that, they wrote in one recent paper, “We offer a warning label to accompany the practice of setting goals.”

在奥多尼兹对制定目标展开的研究中,她发现公司的激励措施可能会提升业绩,但员工更有可能投机取巧,也更有可能自私自利,他们可能感觉失去动力,甚至不愿学习自己本应学习的东西。她和她的同事发现的这个现象很有意思,她甚至在最近的一篇论文中写道:"我们会给制定目标这种行为贴上警告标签。"

“The first couple of times I presented this to executives, I was waiting for them to say, ‘Go jump off a bridge, this is crazy academic stuff’,” Ordonez says. “Instead, they were like ‘Oh, yeah – this happens all the time’.”

"我最开始把这个消息告诉几位高管的时候,我以为他们会说:'一边去,你这个疯子学者。'"奥多尼兹说,"但他们的反应却是:'哦,没错——确实如此。'"

One example was a call centre that set a goal for its employees: keep the average call time under two minutes. The result? Employees would call a number and, when the person answered, immediately hang up. They met their goal.

例如,呼叫中心就会给员工制定目标:把每次通话时间限制在2分钟之内。结果如何?员工会拨打一个电话,而当人们接起后,他们就会立刻挂断。他们达到目标了。

That isn’t the only kind of ‘shortcut’ that outcome-oriented goals can encourage. You might think that, if you’ve never gone for a run before, there might be no better motivator than saying you’ll run a marathon in six months. Not necessarily. “You have to be very careful when you apply goals,” says Ordonez. “There’s research showing that if you don’t really know how to complete the task, giving someone a goal that early on messes up their performance. They don’t take the time to learn, practice other strategies and discover the best methods, because they’re just focused on that goal – and they don’t do very well.”

这并非结果导向型目标鼓励你追求的唯一一种"捷径"。你可能会认为,如果你之前从来没有跑步,或许就没有比"我要在6个月内跑一场马拉松"更好的激励因素了。其实未必。"制定目标时必须非常小心。"奥多尼兹说,"有研究表明,如果你不知道如何完成任务,过早地制定目标就会干扰他们的表现。他们不会抽时间学习,而是会采取其他策略,或者寻找更好的方法,因为他们只关注目标——最终表现不会太好。"

People also can end up taking shortcuts when it comes to ethics. As this analysis outlines, when people were given performance-oriented goals, they acted in more competitive, selfish ways. (Volkswagen is just one recent real-life example as is Wells Fargo).

人们在道德问题上也会追求捷径。正如这篇分析所说,当人们制定了以结果为导向的目标后,他们就会表现得更有竞争性,也更自私自利。(大众汽车和富国银行只是现实生活中最近的例子而已。)

That’s particularly true if the goals are seen as unrealistic. The tougher the goal is, the more it mentally tires us out, says Ordonez, and makes us more likely to be unthinking about the consequences. In one study, she found that participants who were given a tough goal to tackle first from a series of tasks acted more unethically than those who started with easier goals. That pattern continued even as the difficulty of their goals lessened.

如果目标不切实际,这种情况尤为明显。奥多尼兹表示,目标越困难,我们的心智就越面临挑战,越会导致我们不顾后果。她在一项研究中发现,与接受简单目标的人相比,接受困难目标的志愿者在处理一系列任务中的第一项任务时表现得更没有道德。即便是当目标的难度降低后,这种情况仍会持续。

Creativity crush

创造力受损

Some goals – if they’re tied to rewards – can also hinder creativity and problem-solving.

如果与奖励联系起来,有的目标也会阻碍我们的创造力和解决问题的能力。

In his book Drive, Daniel Pink points to Harry Harlow’s 1940s monkey experiments. When researchers gave monkeys a puzzle, the animals happily tried to solve it. But when the monkeys were offered a reward for figuring it out, they made more errors and solved fewer puzzles.

丹尼尔·平克(Daniel Pink)在他的著作《驱动》(Drive)中提到了哈利·哈罗(Harry Harlow)在20世纪40年代用猴子做的一个实验。当研究人员给猴子一个难题时,这种动物很愿意尝试解决它。但当猴子因为解决难题而获得奖励时,它们的错误率就会增加,解决的难题也会减少。

Something similar happened with artists. In one study by Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile, a panel of artists and curators chose the best works of artists – and, without knowing the context, ended up rating works artists had done without a commission as far more creative than commissioned works.

类似的事情也会发生在艺术家身上。在哈佛商学院教授特里萨·阿马比尔(Teresa Amabile)的一项研究中,一组艺术家和博物馆馆长选出了艺术家的最佳作品——然后让他们在不知道背景的情况下打分,结果发现,从创造力的角度来看,艺术家在没有佣金的情况下创作的作品远高于有佣金的作品。

“Rewards can perform a weird sort of behavioural alchemy: they can transform an interesting task into a drudge. They can turn play into work,” Pink writes. “And by diminishing intrinsic motivation, they can send performance, creativity, and even upstanding behaviour toppling like dominoes.”

"奖励会对行为产生一种很奇怪的魔力:它会把有趣的任务变成苦差事,会把乐趣变成工作。"平克写道,"通过消除内在动机,还能把绩效、创造力甚至理解行为像多米诺骨牌一样一一推翻。"

One direction

一个方向

Of course, it’s human nature to have aims. Even wanting to re-evaluate your relationship with goals is a goal. So, what do you do?

当然,人类本性上都会制定目标。即便是想要重新评估自己跟目标的关系,本质上也是一个目标。那么,究竟应该如何是好?

For one, be more flexible and go easier on ourselves about tasks and deadlines if we slip up.

首先,应该保持灵活性,如果自己出现差错,应该在任务和截止日期上对自己宽容一些。

But we also may want to change our whole approach.

但我们可能也希望改变自己的整个方法。

“Use goals as a compass, and not as a GPS,” says Ordonez, echoing a metaphor preferred by Robbins, Shapiro and others. “If you allow goals to guide your general direction as a compass, then when things change, you can realign much easier because you know that goal. Or if the weather changes, and now there’s somewhere else you want to be, you don’t have to miss those things.”

"把目标当成指南针,而不是GPS。"奥多尼兹说,她重复了罗宾斯、夏皮罗和其他人常用的一个比喻。"如果你让目标像指南针一样指引你向着目标的大致方向前进,那么当事情发生变化时,就更容易调整,因为你知道那个目标。或者,如果天气发生变化,而你现在还有其他想去的地方,那就不必过于依依不舍。"

One idea is to question your motivations, says Robbins. Want be a lawyer? Why? Because you think law is fascinating? So, is it more that you want to do something fascinating, and you think law might be it. Set your compass to “something fascinating, maybe law-related” instead, says Robbins.

罗宾斯表示,有一种方法是质疑自己的动机。你想当律师吗?为什么?因为你认为律师很有魅力?那么,你其实主要是想做一些有魅力的事情,而你认为法律可能很有魅力。罗宾斯表示,这时就应该把指南针设置成"有魅力,而且可能与法律相关"的事情。

Another way to think of it is as a hike, says Freund. “Of course, you want to get to a certain goal; you want to end at a certain place” she says.

弗洛因德表示,另外一种方式是将其想象成一次远足。"你肯定很想达成一个特定目标;你想最终到达某个地方。"她说。

“But if you just do that, you will probably not enjoy the hike very much. It’s almost the opposite of what you want to do when you go hiking. Mostly, hiking is about enjoying the movement, enjoying the particular challenges and enjoying the landscape.”

"但如果你这么做,很可能无法很好地享受远足。这可能与你远足的初衷背道而驰。远足主要是为了享受运动,享受挑战,欣赏美景。"

In other words, prioritise the journey (the process) not just the destination (the outcome).”

换句话说,应该更加重视旅程(过程),而不仅仅是目的地(结果)。

So instead of focusing on where you want to be in five years, set a goal based on the experience you want to have along the way, says Robbins, who has written about this approach. Setting off on a course that seems painful and unfulfilling? Choose a different goal.

所以,罗宾斯表示,不应该关注你5年内想要达成的目标,而应该根据你在此过程中想要获得的体验来制定目标。他之前曾经撰文阐述过这种方法。你觉得既痛苦又不满足?可以换个目标。

If that sounds frightening, says Robbins, consider what he’s noticed from his interviews with successful people: “The people who had the least extraordinary lives were the ones who had managed to adhere closest to their plans.”

罗宾斯表示,如果这听起来令人恐惧,可以想想他采访成功人士时注意到的现象:"那些取得非凡成就的人都能紧紧追随自己的计划。"

That doesn’t just make the process more fun. It opens you up to more opportunities – and more success. After all, if you take numerous actions in the general direction you want to go, you’ll have a higher probability of getting there than if you make one, laser-focused plan that tries to anticipate the future, Shapiro points out.

这不仅能让过程更加有趣。还能让你获得更多机会,取得更多成功。夏皮罗指出,毕竟,如果你在你想要达成的大方向上采取了很多行动,那么,与制定了非常细致的未来计划相比,你更有可能达到目标。

If you really want to find fulfilment, you have to do something else, too. “Give yourself entirely to your work, yes. But let go of the outcome. Be alike in success and defeat,” writes Stephen Cope in his book The Great Work of Your Life. That, some say, is the best way to ensure you’re focused on the process and the journey – and, ironically, to wind up getting the outcome that suits you best. For most of us, it’s also the hardest part.

如果你真的要找到满足感,就必须做点其他事情。"把自己全身心投入到工作中没有问题。但不要太在乎结果。无论成败与否,都要保持平常心。"史蒂芬·克普(Stephen Cope)在他的著作《人生伟业》(The Great Work of Your Life)中写道。有人说,这是确保你关注过程和旅程的最佳方式——而具有讽刺意味的是,这也恰恰是得到最适合你的结果的最佳方式。对多数人来说,这也是最困难的部分。

But maybe that shouldn’t be surprising. Despite how it sounds, it turns out that living with fewer goals, and with purpose, direction and openness instead, may be an even bigger challenge than sticking to a plan. But it can be more freeing and fulfilling.

但或许并不出人意料。无论听起来怎样,在生活中少一些目标,多一些方向和开放性,或许比坚持一个计划更加难以实现。但这却能让我们更加释怀,更加满足。

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