A week into the new year and some have already started to fall of the path. It’s not because they’re weak or bad, just that keeping new goals is not always easy.
The human mind likes things to be… shall we say… safely predictable. To change is to bring in the unknown… which may well not be safe and predictable. So, in essence, the mind will work against you and your new resolutions.
So… what is a person to do… when trying to stay on the new resolutions bandwagon?
One way to make goals stick… anchor them
The simplest and easiest way to make a new goal stick… is to link it with one that is already working. Kind of like a habit substitution or anchoring.
How does that work?
Well, for this Motivational Monday, let’s just study one quick example.
Mike wants to get fit. Mike has the goal of running to get fit. However, it’s January. This year, it’s been disrespectfully cold. If Mike is to make his fitness dream a reality, he’s going to need more than will power. Because, that single digit cold is brutal.
Mike heard of anchoring appointments before. The act of linking a new appointment around the time of one you already have. Example, at lunch, which is the same time nearly every single day, Mike is adding a ten minute walk around the block of his job to improve his health. It’s in his calendar, and it’s on his smart watch reminders as well. He won’t miss his lunch break, as it’s a serious habit already. Linking the new one to an existing strong habit will increase the odds of keeping it. Every day, before getting his order taken out, he walks around the block of the office first.
To apply this to his resolutions of fitness, Mike studied his morning routine. He knows that he walks a certain path to the bathroom every morning. Then, heads over to get a glass of water before checking the morning news. To help him get running, he made a few adjustments.
Instead of his slippers at the foot of the bed, it’s his running shoes. Instead of his towel on the door handle, he put one layer of warm running gear on the door. He also added a post-it note with a motivational thought (one he changes daily to avoid habituation). Then, by his favorite cup, he placed his gloves for his hands. Over the television remote, he placed his knit hat and headphones for his running music. Instead of doing the news, which has him sitting, he has his phone already set to stream the news on his run after his music got him up to speed.
Did Mike get success with his anchoring appointments?
At first, it was really tough. Every ounce of his being did not want to go out in the cold. However, having slept in part of his running gear and having suited up to run all before having time to sit and do the news, he figured he might as well just go out and check the weather. Once outside, might as well just go up the block before going back in. In time, he was extending his distance longer and longer. Because it was cold, he kept up his speed to keep warm. This pushed him along his goals faster than he had anticipated. Seeing the scale applaud his efforts, Mike felt encouraged to go on and push through until Spring.
By sticking a new goal with one that is already in motion, he increased the odds of him having success. Sometimes, one has to trick one’s mind into having success. The automatic systems of the mind are focused on primarily keeping a person safe and alive. It will do what is known to work way before trying something new.