Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

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Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

332. Mastering Motivation: Ayelet Fishbach Reveals the Secrets to Achieving Your Goals (Refreshed Episode)

In this episode of The Brainy Business podcast, you’ll hear an insightful conversation between host Melina Palmer and guest Ayelet Fishbach, a professor and researcher in behavioral science at the University of Chicago. The episode focuses on the topic of goal setting and motivation. Ayelet shares her expertise in understanding the psychology behind setting and achieving goals, emphasizing the importance of intrinsic motivation and finding joy in the journey. 

She provides practical strategies for overcoming obstacles, reframing goals, and maintaining motivation over time. This episode is a must-listen for anyone seeking to improve their goal-setting skills and increase their chances of successfully achieving their goals. Ayelet’s research-backed insights will inspire you to approach goal setting in a more thoughtful and effective way. So, if you’re looking to enhance your motivation and achieve your goals, tune in to this episode.

In this episode:


  • Explore the science behind goal setting and motivation to uncover strategies for increased success.

  • Overcome obstacles and anticipate temptations in order to stay focused on achieving your goals.

  • Discover the importance of intrinsic motivation and how it can drive you towards sustainable success.

  • Learn the power of reframing goals and shifting your focus to the process, rather than just the end result.

  • Gain insights into planning for long-term goals and developing a more thoughtful approach to achieving them.

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00:00:00 – Introduction to the Episode
Melina introduces the purpose of refreshing this episode and mentions the upcoming conversation with Vishal George, who references Ayelet’s work.

00:02:04 – Setting Goals and Motivation
Listeners are encouraged to think about their goals, especially related to money and financial stability. Melina teases the upcoming conversation with Ayelet Fishbach and encourages listeners to keep their goals in mind during the discussion.

00:02:53 – Interview with Ayelet Fishbach
Ayelet Fishbach discusses her background in motivation science and goal setting. She explains how she became interested in studying motivation and self-control and discusses her early research on anticipating temptation. The importance of planning and thinking about obstacles is highlighted.

00:09:19 – Overcoming Fantasies and Intuition
Ayelet emphasizes the importance of thinking beyond fantasies and focusing on potential obstacles. She discusses how fantasies are less effective than considering the challenges that may arise. The importance of questioning intuition and challenging common beliefs is also mentioned.

00:11:18 – Intuition and Counterintuitive Findings
Ayelet discusses the importance of questioning intuition and presents examples of counterintuitive findings. She highlights the need to challenge common beliefs and assumptions, such as opposites attract or consistent reinforcement for behavior.

00:16:50 – The Power of Goals,
The conversation begins by discussing the power of setting goals and the inspiration they provide. The example of Mount Everest is used to highlight the allure and intrinsic motivation behind achieving a specific goal.

00:19:33 – Choosing the Right Goal,
The discussion emphasizes the importance of choosing the right goal, as not all goals are in our best interest. The example of climbers on Mount Everest who persist despite dangerous conditions is used to illustrate the potential pitfalls of misguided goals.

00:22:20 – Increasing Goal Adherence,
The conversation addresses the issue of people giving up on their New Year’s resolutions. The key factor in goal adherence is intrinsically motivating resolutions that provide immediate pleasure or growth. The importance of enjoying the path towards the goal is emphasized.

00:24:35 – Setting Pleasurable Goals,
The discussion highlights the significance of setting goals that are pleasurable to pursue. Examples include enjoying healthier foods, finding fun ways to exercise, and creating rewarding work tasks. Emphasis is placed on the need to find pleasure in the process rather than solely focusing on the end result.

00:29:10 – Mistakes in Goal Setting,
The conversation explores the common mistake of setting resolutions based on an idealized version of oneself. The concept of hyperbolic time discounting is mentioned as a factor that hinders long-term commitment. The speaker advises setting goals based on one’s present self, acknowledging personal limitations, and planning accordingly.

00:34:52 – The Problem with Avoidance Goals,
Avoidance goals, such as not being a couch potato or not eating junk food, are less likely to be successful because they bring to mind the very thing we are trying to avoid. Approach goals, on the other hand, like catching Pokemon, are more exciting and motivating.

00:36:10 – Why Avoidance Goals Don’t Work,
Avoidance goals may seem urgent in the short term, but they are not effective for long-term success. Instead of focusing on what not to do, it is more productive to think about what we should do. For example, setting a goal to have healthy snacks instead of avoiding junk food.

00:37:07 – Reframing Avoidance Goals,
Reframing avoidance goals involves shifting the focus from what we should not do to what we should do. For example, instead of setting a goal to stop eating junk food, we can set a goal to eat healthy snacks. This reframing makes the goal more positive and motivating.

00:39:24 – Changing Perceptions of Healthy Food,
Many people have a negative perception of healthy food, associating it with being tasteless. However, this perception can be changed by framing healthy food in a more positive and tasty way. When healthy food is seen as delicious, people are more likely to choose and enjoy it.

00:51:22 – Reaching Goals and Making Little Changes,
Melina discusses the importance of regularly taking action towards goals instead of only focusing on the long term. Little changes and choices made today can have a significant impact in the future, such as planning for retirement. Being thoughtful and proactive is key.

00:52:03 –  Conclusion,
Melina’s top insights from the conversation. What stuck with you while listening to the episode? What are you going to try? Come share it with Melina on social media — you’ll find her as @thebrainybiz everywhere and as Melina Palmer on LinkedIn.

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