A community for people who want to remain as healthy as possible as we age.

Trying to Reach a Goal? You're Doing It Wrong

(Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D.) Most plans are not structured in a way that makes them effective. If-then plans, however, are -- and making them is a really powerful way to help you achieve any goal. Well over 100 studies, on everything from diet and exercise to negotiation and time management, have shown that deciding in advance when and where you will take steps to reach your goal (e.g., "If I am hungry and want a snack, then I will choose a healthy option like fruit or veggies,") can double or triple your chances for success…
Researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands looked at three types of if-then plans.
Replacement plans do just what the name suggests -- replace a bad habit with a good one…
Ignore…  In this case, you are simply planning to tune out unwanted impulses and thoughts, in order to diminish their effect on you.
Finally, negation if-then plans involve spelling out the actions you won't be taking in the future…
All three types of if-then plans were put to the test, with surprising and consistent results. The researchers found that negation if-then plans were not only far less effective compared to other plans, but that they sometimes resulted in a rebound effect, leading people to do more of the forbidden behavior than before… [Emphasis added.]
Remember that when it comes to reaching your goals and avoiding temptation, you need to plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Ask yourself, What will I do instead? The answer to this simple question could mean the difference between another year of setbacks and disappointments, and the real, lasting change you been looking for.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to increase impulse control.
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Please do not give advice. We can best help each other by telling what works for us, not what we think someone else should do.