April 25, 2014

Transitioning into Action: Life-hacking Tips for Accomplishing Goals

I recently took a poll in the private group that accompanies my newsletter. I wanted to know where people were struggling and how I could help, and the results were overwhelmingly consistent:

People wanted to know how to overcome procrastination, transform “bad” habits, and move into action. 10-4. This post goes out to all of you who are struggling in this department.

I have some “life-hacking” tips that I’ll share at the end of this article, but first, I want you to ask yourself a tough question, and I want you to be honest. Think about your goal for a moment – and hold it clearly in your mind. Center your attention on what it is that you’re aiming for, and then answer this question for yourself:

How badly do you want it?

Before we get into the tips and the tricks, I want to invite you to think about success through the following lens. Goals are most often accomplished when the following three conditions are met:

  • We want what we want REALLY badly
  • We feel like failure is not an option
  • We have a very clear sense of what our goals and values are – and we keep them in mind, daily, with focus and dedication.

So I’ll ask you again:

How badly do you want it?

You will achieve your dreams once you decide that the alternative isn’t an option. (Click to tweet it.)

So, let’s assume you’re there. You have a clear vision in mind and you’ve set your course. What can you do to make things easier on yourself, or to increase the likelihood of regular follow-through?

Here are a few behavioral tips and tricks that can help you to overcome procrastination, and to transition into action*:

1. We’re inherently motivated to do what feels rewarding. This fundamental truth of human behavior cannot be emphasized enough.

I’ll use exercise as an example here because several of the people in the group listed it as something that they’re struggling with. Exercise, believe it or not, eventually becomes intrinsically rewarding; once we get accustomed to it, the endorphins that are released when we work-out create an internal system of positive reinforcement. That said, until it becomes a habit, we have to create our own system of rewards. An example of this would having a really delicious meal right after a work-out. Establish a system of rewards that will give you the motivation you need to succeed.

2. Changing one habit tends to have an impact on others.

Otherwise put, if you want to change one habit, focus on changing a different one that will set the stage for what you really want to achieve. For example: If you’re trying to get exercise in the morning, begin by putting your sneakers on as soon as you wake up. Just do it – no questions. Eventually you’ll start to feel pretty silly wandering around your house in your sneaks without getting your butt on the trail 😉

3. Whether we like it or not, human behavior tends to exist along an “all or nothing” continuum.

People who eat well and take good care of themselves nutritionally tend to also get more exercise, and vice versa. Research studies have similarly shown that people who make their bed in the morning tend to be more productive, and to excel in other, seemingly non-related areas like balancing a budget. If your goal is to (again) get more exercise, consider starting by applying more attention to what you’re eating and – you bet – whether you do things like make your bed in the morning.

I hope this helps! If you have further questions, or would like the support of me and the group, you can join us by opt-ing in to my newsletter at the bottom of this page.

*These tips have been adapted by Charles Duhigg’s book: The Power of Habit . It’s a worthwhile read if these concepts appeal to you and you want to go deeper.

Categories: Psychotherapy and Coaching | Tags: , , , , , , |