Lab Notes #9: The Right Words for Motivation

In a recent study on weight reduction (full text here), researchers found that dietary self‐monitoring correlates strongly with short‐ and long‐term weight loss.  When I first heard about the study, I figured: oh, the power of the written word strikes again. Whether your mission is your health or your business, words matter, and words motivate.

In On Writing Well, William Zinser notes, “Clear thinking becomes clear writing; one can’t exist without the other. It’s impossible for a muddy thinker to write good English.” Maybe, but I prefer “nothing clears up muddy thinking like the act of writing,” which emphasizes the act of writing itself, rather than the writer’s identity (clear thinker vs. muddy thinker). Even on topics I adore, I find my initial pass includes a spattering of mud, and it’s up to my editorial eye on subsequent rounds of edits to make things sparkle.

But let’s get back to “Log Often, Lose More: Electronic Dietary Self‐Monitoring for Weight Loss.” The key finding:

the frequency of self‐monitoring is significantly related to weight‐loss success in an online behavioral weight‐loss intervention,” in terms of visits per day and visits per month.

Put another way: subjects established goals, recorded their progress towards those goals and, over time, the more often they made it their business to attend to their goals, the greater their success. As it is in business: once an owner records those goals in ink (or even pixels), self-accountability grows, and the goals become more concrete.

So, just grab your keyboard or a pen and a block of time to get started. Yes, your thinking may start out muddy, but the dirt will settle.

Where do you want to go during the second half of Q2?