Changing a habit isn’t as simple as saying “I will go for a run in the morning” or “I will stop biting my fingernails.” But it may be as simple as saying “Will I go for a run in the morning?”

Interrogative self-talk—as in, the questions you ask yourself—is more motivating than declaring something to be true, according to a 2010 psychology study recently unearthed by Pacific Standard.  

Published in Psychological Science, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that in several different experiments, participants were better at problem-solving and more motivated if they prepared for their tasks by writing “Will I?” statements rather than making declarative “I will” statements. 

Trying to bully yourself into doing something you know to be the right decision, even if it isn’t the fun or easy decision, doesn’t really work. But if you ask yourself “Will I choose to stay off Facebook all day?” you may find yourself considering how, exactly, you might accomplish that. It presents your goal as a personal challenge (“Can I really do this?”) rather than an order that you will inevitably fail to follow. And if you’re merely asking “Will I?,” failing to follow through doesn’t feel quite as disappointing. 

[h/t Pacific Standard]

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