What happens when you get angry? Do you see red? Does the anger pass quickly or do you sit with it for a while, letting it affect your whole day, or even week?
If you're ever in a situation where you lose your cool, you may find that all productivity comes to a halt, as your day becomes interrupted and perhaps even ruined. Your to-do list suffers, and your long-term goals also become negatively impacted in some way.
One study recently published in the journal, Motivation and Emotion, examines how exactly anger impacts our persistence, especially when we are in pursuit of goals.
Study author Antje Schmitt, an assistant professor at the University of Groningen, notes that "divergent perspectives" on the impact of anger for goal pursuit have existed--"Whereas some research suggests that the feeling of anger may support persistence in goal striving," she notes, "some other literature argues that anger may reduce persistence."
The studies Schmitt led involved 307 participants. Participants were asked to explain a personal goal they were working to achieve in the following two weeks and were also asked to describe their plan for goal achievement. Independent research assistants rated their action planning in terms of quality.
Results indicated that ultimately anger was associated with reduced goal achievement and reduced persistence among those with poor action plans. At the same time, for the participants who developed strong action plans, anger did not impact persistence or goal achievement. In fact, these strong action plans protected goals from the negative impacts of anger.
As Schmitt explains, the study results show that,
When people experience anger during the pursuit of personally relevant goals, their persistence in pursuing these goals is reduced given that they have not developed a strong action plan on how to reach these goals.
Because their action plan was weak, it is "more likely that they will have problems in achieving their goals." Schmitt continued:
Without a strong, detailed, and future-oriented action plan, it is more difficult for people to accomplish their goals persistently when anger during goal pursuit arises.
So, what makes for a strong action plan when in pursuit of a goal?
Consider working with a goal planner and calendar to be on time with milestones and deadlines. List the steps, in detail, that you need to accomplish your goal. Make sure these steps are manageable and that your goal is reasonable. And remember to stay positive and persistent.