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...

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...

Changing is not simple

Failing hurts, so do everything to make success more likely. When we try to change, a mistake that is often made is to think in goals and abstraction (Tiggelaar). To reach a goal you will have to act, so you need behaviors. Realizing which behaviors are necessary is a huge step forward on your way to achieve your goals. So think in behaviors, not goals or abstractions. What behavior are you targeting? Thinking in terms of goals brings two problems. Firstly we don’t realize which new (repetitive!) behaviors are necessary and secondly we don’t realize how to implement these new behaviors into our daily routines.   Habits: tiny entities The best thing about habits is that they don’t take a lot of effort. Once a habit is in place we perform the action without much thought and there is little motivation needed (Fogg). That is why they are so great! The only problem is how to get a habit in place. Next to the importance of triggers (see below) I want to endorse the importance of baby steps. A major change is harder than a small change. Trying to change step by step is a way to make the complicated process easier. You might wonder why you want to make the process easier? Our brain associates (new) activities with how we appreciate these activities. If you keep on pushing yourself, you will do things ‘against your will’. This will create a negative reaction towards the wanted behavior. This negativity will greatly influence your chances of success, so avoid it with baby steps! Triggers To think about behavior, we need a trigger. The trigger itself is not motivating, neither does it make the action easier. It just reminds you to...