If all you do is make lists of the projects you need to finish, odds are good they will remain unfinished far longer than you like. Decades of research on goal pursuit shows that when it comes to execution, there are 2 major pitfalls that keep us from doing the things we intend to do.
1. We aren’t specific enough about exactly what needs to happen. There are actions we must take to reach our goals. If your goal is be healthier, you must break that down into component actions, like walking every day for 30-minutes at 7AM, packing a gym bag the night before M/W/F, eating breakfast, etc. So, to-do lists CAN work, if they contain specific actions.
2. The problem that lists don’t solve is finding the opportunity to take action. • Did you really have NO time to work on that project today? • No chance at any time to return that phone call? You probably had the time but were preoccupied with something else or simply forgot.
Achieving any goal means grabbing hold of those opportunities before they slip through your fingers. One solution is IF-THEN planning. Not only decide WHAT you need to do but WHEN and WHERE you will do it in advance. So, if ____ occurs, then I will ____. For example: When it’s 3PM today, then I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and work on that project. If it’s M/W or F, then I’ll go to the gym before work.
This kind of planning trains your brain to be ready for a certain action at a certain time. On an unconscious level, you are scanning your environment, waiting for the situation, 3PM to occur, so you are much more likely to notice 3PM when it happens and seize the opportunity to take the action you included in your plan.
With each action on your to-do list, add a when and a where. You can transfer your to-do list to your calendar/phone/device- just be sure to pair WHAT you need to do with the details about when and where you’ll do it.
MINI-Plan The Power of Habit
1. Create a routine- teach your brain a routine
2. Set small goals- habit formation is built on small wins
3. Choose a reward- you’re training yourself to associate a behavior with something you enjoy
4. Write it down- Identifying your routine significantly increases the chance that a habit will take hold
ACTIONS: What’s one goal to focus on today and break it down into components? Share with your group > accountability