Succed Too Early And Hate It? Yes, You Can

You've finally got an agent for your novel.  Then she gets a publisher for your book.  It's something you've dreamed of all your life.  Your book will be out next year.

Sadly, I came close to this but no cigar.  But a new study says that success might not feel like success if  the script (or the novel) isn't followed the way you thought it would, and you learn too soon that you will accomplish what you set out to do?

 The study finds that the positive reaction one would have when succeeding is lessened if it doesn't follow the expected course, according to

I guess that means if I was in the library one day and saw my novel on the shelf, I would hate it?

I doubt it.

But researchers found that when people learned, for example, that they would win a game, get a job offer or be accepted to college before their predetermined time, "the experience was muted twice — when they learned early, and then when the goal was achieved."

"We basically show that people want to feel good at the right time — that is, when a goal is achieved and not before then," says Ayelet Fishbach, a professor of behavioral science and marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

The Web site reports that people were happier when good news followed the predetermined script, that people value goals less if they learn early that they will be achieving them, and that people had a subdued reaction to achieving the goal if they were certain beforehand that the goal would be achieved.

 "When people learn that a goal will be achieved before it actually is, they often try to suppress the positive emotion in order to feel it at the 'right time,'" Fishbach says at "The result is that people don't feel as happy when they get the news — because it's not the right time — as well as when the goal is officially achieved — because by then it's no longer 'news.'"

Fishbach and Klein speculate that, among other possible reasons, this muting may occur because of the fragility of positive emotion, noting that it is much easier for a good mood to sour than it is to overcome a bad mood.

"Once positive emotion is 'tampered with,' it appears to be difficult to reignite," the study says. "It appears that positive emotion can be dampened relatively easily, but reawakening it appears to be more difficult."


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