What surprised Halvorson was how the two groups dealt with the challenges. The ones in the “get-better” group remained unfazed and solved as many as problems in the challenging conditions as the easy ones. They stayed motivated and kept trying to learn. The ones in the “be-good” group, however, were so demoralized when they faced the challenges and obstacles that they solved substantially fewer problems than those who didn’t have to face them.
And those differences happened just because of how the initial goal was framed.
Define Mastery Goals, Not Performance Ones, For Difficult Problems
Halvorson’s experiments illustrate the difference between a mastery goal, where you aim to learn and get better at some skill, and a performance goal, where you aim to be good, either to demonstrate you’re talented or to outperform other people.Speaking from experience, this is very true: when I try to write as a performance, I get blocked. When I write for myself, I write freely. I've probably kept dancing for the last couple of years because I never think about the idea of performing for anyone. (Okay, I sometimes think briefly about it, get terrified, and go back to thinking about dancing purely for fun.)