I object myself

Stress will kill all your good intentions. The chance of actually performing those acts that we are not accustomed to, but did plan, will drop dramatically when we experience stress. Hindrances and problems that we come across while trying to change our behavior, will make us stressful. Two very recognizable stress factors are interruptions throughout our action and the idea of not having enough time. The situation as we planned it to be like Gollwitzer did a lot of research on this subject, his implementation intentions can be a good start to prevent ourselves to relapse into old behavior. Implementation intentions are more tangible and practical intentions, with a planned moment, situation and so on. Implementation intentions will help us to remember what we planned to do. Through the addition of triggers (where, what, when) we are more likely to think of our intention and succeed in actually executing it. The actual situation The problem with implementation intentions is that they are focused on a positive frame in which we plan our future behavior and everything goes according to plan. This – of course – is far from how it often goes. Whenever we meet a problem or hindrance that keeps us from our old behavior, it will give us stress. Thinking about the possible problems we can encounter will not only give us a quick answer how to stick to our original plan. Thinking through possible objections and problems will also make us react less stressful to the objections. An example Maybe you intent to be nicer to customers at work. You just had a course and are determined to stay friendly no matter what happens. Then there comes a customer who is really angry at you for...

S.M.A.R.T. you

So you thought everything through and know what your goals are. After weeks of thinking you decided what you want and now you expect it to happen. Many people make plans and then they think this will lead to results. The only thing they forget is a step on the way: the doing. S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. A lot of people talk about S.M.A.R.T. goals, but I want to draw the line even further and think about S.M.A.R.T. behavior. Or thinking about it in another way: once you defined your goals S.M.A.R.T. you will talk about future behavior. Without a focus on the action-part we might just be lucky and achieve our goal anyway. Far more likely is the chance of not acting at all, or doing the wrong thing. So S.M.A.R.T. it should be… Specific The more specific a goal is defined, the greater the chances of success. Implementation intentions are great, although you can also answer six ‘W’ questions: Who is involved, What do I want to accomplish, Where will I do it (location), When will I do it, Which requirements and constraints apply, Why do I want to achieve this (purpose or benefits)? Measurable Find concrete criteria to measure your progress. Measuring helps you to stay on track, keep an eye on target dates and makes you realize how far you already came. A goal with no measurable outcome is like a sports game with no scoreboard, or no way to score at all. To make sure your goal is measurable you can ask yourself two ‘How’ questions: How much? or How many? How will I accomplished my goal? Attainable Think about opportunities to bring yourself closer to your goal and...

Brushing my teeth

Two weeks ago I decided to brush my teeth before breakfast. I always brush my teeth in the morning and did so for many years (longer than I can remember). The only difference is that I am used to brushing my teeth after breakfast. (If you are wondering why; I always drink orange juice and apparently you need to wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth since this juice is so sour.)   Annoyance Small difference I thought; it is a matter of minutes.  But the stupid fact is that I only remember I intended to brush my teeth before breakfast after I ate my first bite. Obviously that was too late. Frustrating as it was, I decided to take a lesson from my own psychological insights and make an implementation intention to trigger myself. The problem Motivation and effort were not the problem: I already am used to brushing my teeth every morning, so it was only a matter of timing and finding a new trigger. I decided that putting on my make-up or doing my hair was not a good trigger, for I do this both before and after breakfast. However I do always use facial cream in the morning and before breakfast. The implementation intention My implementation intention became ‘after I close the bottle of my facial cream I will brush my teeth.’ Adding that I had to be in the bathroom, or that it would be in the morning did not make sense to me: it was too obvious. Success! Even while knowing this method to be proven, it still felt silly to actually formulate this implementation intention. However, it was successful! It triggers me to think about brushing my teeth, making me more successful...

Tales of a Thousand and One Nights...

I know a person who always intends to do lots of things and somehow doesn’t get to it. That person will be me. But I guess (and am pretty sure) that this is fairly recognizable. Willing to do something is not the problem, I really and genuinely intend to do what I plan. It just slips my mind. The problem is I just don’t remember I had an intention. In my former blog I talked about the difference between automatically and consciously started behavior. There are so many stimuli through the day and so many things to remember. It is almost special we remember to do a lot of things that are on our to-do-list. Automatic behavior can help us greatly for it makes the remembering less effortful. Unfortunately to get your desired behavior into a habit isn’t done overnights. Describe your future behavior Implementation intentions are a great way to easily remember planned behavior. They are also a great starting point for future habits. Implementation intentions are intentions that are as specific as possible. To make the remembering as easy as possible, you will have to make the circumstances of your planned behavior as clear and described as you can. This creates much higher chances of actually performing the behavior you planned (Gollwitzer, Gollwitzer and Sheeran). Try to plan where, how and when you will carry out your intended behavior (Gollwitzer, Bayer and McCulloch). Try this formula: “If situation X (where, how and when) occurs, I will demonstrate behavior Y.” All the described characteristics of the surrounding of our planned behavior serve as a reminder for the actual behavior. Optimizing: really tomorrow Making your own implementation intentions is your best option. This way chances are biggest you will...