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Cognitive dissonance and your personally meaningful goals

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 11/29/23 7:45 AM

Cognitive Dissonance and Your Personally Meaningful Goals

Harnessing Cognitive Dissonance for Sales Success
In the sales world, small business owners, sales professionals, and sales leaders often encounter a fascinating psychological phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance. This concept revolves around the conflict between two opposing views of ourselves—the person we are and the person we were. 

This internal struggle can leave us feeling uncomfortable in our own skin, akin to the unease we experience when we know we've done something wrong, yet we did it anyway.

This blog post will delve into cognitive dissonance, explore how it can hinder and propel us toward success, and discover the importance of personally meaningful goals in bridging the gap.

Understanding Cognitive Dissonance:

Cognitive dissonance is a powerful force that can be a stumbling block or a stepping stone to success. It's the discomfort we feel when our current beliefs or actions clash with our desired outcomes or personal values. This internal turmoil can drive us to change and grow or lead us to make excuses and cling to our old ways.

The Positive Side of Cognitive Dissonance:

Cognitive dissonance can be a driving force for positive change. Consider the story of someone striving to advance their career to provide a better life for their family. This deep-seated, personally meaningful goal creates cognitive dissonance that compels them to push beyond obstacles and ethical boundaries to achieve their aspirations.

It's the kind of discomfort that motivates individuals to go above and beyond, refusing to settle for excuses or complacency.

The Dark Side of Cognitive Dissonance:

On the flip side, some individuals fail to identify personally meaningful reasons to bridge the gap in their cognitive dissonance. Instead of embracing change and growth, they double down on their existing beliefs, make excuses, and avoid confronting the harsh realities before them. 

A poignant example of this can be seen in the aftermath of the 2020 election, where cognitive dissonance led to a refusal to accept defeat, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

The Power of Personally Meaningful Goals

The key to effectively managing cognitive dissonance lies in identifying and nurturing personally meaningful goals. These bridges span the gap between our current state and our desired future. It's important to note that the nature of these goals matters significantly. Goals tied solely to extrinsic rewards, such as a big house or a fancy car, can lose their motivating power when the reward is removed. Sales professionals may experience a similar phenomenon when monetary incentives are the primary motivators.

However, when our goals are intrinsic and deeply connected to our values, we become resilient in the face of obstacles.

Even when the odds seem insurmountable, we remain committed, and surprisingly, we find ways to enjoy the journey.

For instance, a salesperson who initially despised cold calling may turn it into a fun challenge to master, all thanks to the power of personally meaningful goals.

The Data Speaks:

The impact of personally meaningful goals on sales professionals is not mere speculation; it's backed by data. Research shows that those who set and pursue personally meaningful goals are 298% more likely to excel in their roles. They are willing to go the extra mile, acquire new skills, and adapt to changing circumstances. In contrast, those without such goals often find themselves stuck, with 24% fewer skills, as they make excuses and resist change.

Cognitive dissonance is a force that can either hold us back or propel us forward in the world of sales. By understanding its dynamics and embracing personally meaningful goals, sales professionals, small business owners, and sales leaders can turn this psychological phenomenon into a catalyst for success.

Let your aspirations guide you across the bridge of cognitive dissonance, and you'll find yourself reaching new heights in your sales career.

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Topics: sales tips, sales management, sales leadership