Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Author: Michael Bar-Eli

“Yes I can!”: the psychology behind lasting personal growth

Approximately 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by the second week of February. But what makes these goals so difficult to achieve? One theory is that our resolutions are often too big to manage. Sticking to major changes like dieting and exercise can become overwhelming—causing us to give up after any initial set-backs.

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In the zone: how balancing stress levels improves performance [excerpt]

Athletes’ maximum performance, also known as peak performance, is often characterized or accompanied by what is called a “flow state” or “peak experience.” Athletes describe this state as being “on automatic pilot,” “totally involved,” “hot,” “on a roll,” “in a groove,” or “in the zone.” An excellent example is provided by the great German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn in the 2001 champions league final game, between his team FC Bayern Munich and FC Valencia.

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