Maddie Yaskowski, Senior Consultant, Actualize Consulting
Have you ever seen or heard something for the first time, and suddenly you begin to see and hear it everywhere? Maybe you just learned a new word and suddenly it seems like everyone is using it. Maybe it’s a song that you heard in your Spotify discover playlist that now seems to be playing everywhere you go. It can seem uncanny, but it’s definitely no coincidence. Actually, it’s something called a frequency illusion or the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Once you become aware of something, your brain tends to notice it more.
Arnold Swicky, Professor of Linguistics at Stanford University, cites that this phenomenon is a product of our selective attention and our confirmation bias. Once our brain knows to look for something, it will find it. So how can this help us in our life and career?
1. It can help you reach your goals: Setting clear intentions can help you find your path. If you have a clear end in mind, any move you make towards that goal will reinforce your vision. I recently have been challenging myself to come up with at least one new idea a week at work. At first, I found it really hard to come up with anything... But with practice, I trained myself to become aware of inspiration – and it’s everywhere. Now, it seems, I have new ideas every day.
2. It can help you stay positive: Have you ever had a bad experience and the whole day seems to go wrong from then on? This might be this phenomenon at play. As you focus in on the bad, suddenly that’s all you see. Strive to look for the positives and you will find that there’s a lot more than you initially thought. One 2017 study asked participants to write gratitude letters over the course of twelve weeks and found that the more participants wrote, the happier they were. Their overall mental health improved considerably by the end of the study, even when compared to the 4-week mark. As they looked for the good in their life, they found it!
3. It can change the way you look at marketing: Consumers can’t buy your service if they don’t know it exists. This phenomenon suggests that the most important part of marketing is grabbing your audience’s attention so that they are aware of your brand – and then they may begin to notice a need that you can fill. It’s true that there are other pieces to the marketing puzzle like building a brand identity, storytelling, and creating genuine, useful content. But above all, be sure to use key words and eye-catching language. At Actualize, we foster brand recognition by establishing ourselves as an expert in our field. We stay on top of the latest trends by sharing our knowledge through writing articles and leading discussions and webinar events, all of which help to get our name out there.
Have you noticed this phenomenon at play in your life? How else can it help you at work or at home?
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