According to motivation scientist Heidi Grant Halvorson at at 99U “Making if-then plans to tackle your current projects, or reach your goals, is probably – without exaggerating – the most effective single thing you can do to ensure your success.”
Yikes! Sign us up! What do we have to do?
If-Then thinking works like this: You decide in advance when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal and then create the statement: If X happens, then I will do Y.
“IF THIS” becomes the trigger that spurs the “THEN THAT” action.
One of Halvorson’s examples is a study that looked at people who had the goal of becoming regular exercisers. Half the participants were asked to plan where and when they would exercise each week: “IF it is Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, THEN I will hit the gym for an hour before work.” Months later, 91% of if-then planners were still exercising regularly, compared to only 39% of non-planners, pretty spectacular results.
By starting each morning making if-thens to tackle the day’s challenges you apparantly encode messages on your brain that keep you on track, because our brains like contingency thinking.
H-m-m-m. We’re trying to figure out how to apply IF-THEN planning to the many goals we have for ‘the improvised life’. We’re not finding it easy…we tend to go with the flow (perhaps a bit too much) and get to where we’re going in a zig-zag path…but not as much as Zen Habit’s intersting philosophy of Achieving WITHOUT Goals…
Actually, now that we think of it, that IF-THEN thinking seems to be seeping into our thinking. We HAVE been exercising more….
Stay-tuned or let us know your experiences with IF-THEN thinking.
Related posts: e.b. white on how to plan your day
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we test drive the pomodoro time management technique
what happens if you say ‘yes, and…’ (instead of ‘no’)?
how to do more in less time: pulse and restx
creative pursuit as deep sea dive (dave eggers)
to do or not to do, that is the question
when nature reminds you to stop what you are doing