And yeah, it is 2018, how many of you planned to hit the gym and start working out this year? And how many of you planned to start a healthy diet and how many of you planned to get updated with your studies and ended up doing none of this not more than the first week of January. It is like breaking new year resolutions are a time honored tradition. Making resolutions or plans include interruption of your daily routine and replacing with new ones, unfortunately we humans are awful at doing it.
Abstract goals are hard to work on, because once you do not get the feeling of accomplishment brain fails to proceed further, so breaking into fragments can actually help you out. That is when, why, and how?
Why does it work so well?
Once a person makes the plan ‘when, where and how’ then there happens magnificent things out in your brain. ” If and then” works well too, that is “if my alarm goes off, I LL wake up immediately” Where IF is the cue and THEN is the step.
For example “On Sunday after breakfast, then I am going to go for a run”. Keep reminding yourself this throughout the weekend, your brain links the step ‘jogging’ to your cue ‘Sunday after breakfast’. Secondly, this particular sentence gets highly activated and dying to get noticed. The cue is detected even when you’re doing busy things. Like if a teacher asks a question and you know the answer you immediately raise your hand dying to get noticed etc.
This Sunday after breakfast even without any conscious attention or deliberation you’d end up doing the task that is, your unconscious mind takes up the pre decided plans. And you’d wonder “oh, I’m doing it” whether you’re aware or not aware of and of course you don’t have to be conscious about it either. Peter gollwitzer the discoverer of implementation intention said that when there is a cue and a step that you planned before then your brain automatically executes it and it becomes habitual. If you notice once you wake up you automatically go and brush your teeth even without any conscious attention because that has become habitual for you.
How can you use that to trick your brain?
1) Getting started: One of the crucial stages of how to trick your brain is to get started. We find it so difficult on when to and how to start. When life throws some uncomfortable tasks at you, to relieve the pain we often end up procrastinating it. But then the tragedy is once we get started, the pain eventually gets relieved and we overcome the resistance and motivation and the confidence to proceed furthers gets boosted up and up. And to get started it, half of the battle is won. Any help in getting started can actually cause a massive accomplishment. Implementation intention does help in accomplishing it in such a way that getting started gets easier when unconscious brain is on your side.
2) Resisting temptation: I should start exercising today, but well, I could watch one more episode of this series, or I’ll start studying today but end up surfing Facebook feed. So next time when I’ll feel like watching one more episode I’d think about how I’ll have to submit an assignment before the deadline, and if my friend invites me to a party am going to say No thank you I’ve a project to do, and if I get the tendency to check my phone I LL put it into an airplane mode. These are some little steps that can be taken to overcome any temptations that can interfere between you and your goal.
3) Lacking willpower: Self control or self regulation is another strenuous part of our life. Which in other words lack of willpower. But there is a certain advantage of implementation intention that really does enhance your willpower that is, as I said earlier when your subconscious mind takes part in your actions without you deliberately noticing it you really don’t have to put forth any willpower of yours and hence your willpower is actually conserved which you can use it up elsewhere like to beat up these temptations of yours. Secondly, it helps you overcome the times of low willpower.
There was this study conducted where the randomly assigned ‘if and then ‘ were given to some people to solve anagrams and the others IF and THEN. So the pre planned ones tend to solve another anagram after another. But the rest did not proceed further. So prepare yourself in a way ‘if time to go bed then I’ll write in my gratitude journal for five minutes’ and ‘if it is 10pm am going to go to bed no matter what’.
4) over coming any other obstacles: There can be list of obstacles that can be different for each individual, if social media is an obstacle for me video games can be an obstacle for you or maybe Television can be an obstacle for your friend. First check out all the distractions and obstacles that really put you back and push you behind from doing what you should do and make a list and then put forth your implementation intention. Example, if my alarm goes on and I get the urge to snooze, I am getting immediately out of my bed before I press the snooze’ and ‘and if I am in a bad mood and unable to do my work am ignoring it and distract myself and proceed my work further’
This can really help us to trick our brain to some extent.
Above all reward yourself that can enhance the positive feedback which will push your brain into do the same work again so as to gain the source of pleasure you get from doing it. This way you trick the unconscious part of your brain to get into doing your work which is an extra bonus. After all everything is hard, of course, if it wasn’t hard enough to reach out to your goal wouldn’t be so cheerful. Hard work pays.