Part II–Want to Change Personal Habit or Achieve New Year’s Goal ? Try the If-Then Solution

Use the proven technique of  If …Than now what this technique describe in more detail by Dr. Heidi Grant Halverson in her article The Science of Success: the IF-Then Solution.   

Patience these days is a very rare quality. We are practically born with an inpatient gene, one that carries us through life with the expectation that because everything can be cooked in a microwave oven in about 60 seconds, everything else even changing habits should follow that pattern. Well, this I-want-it-now disease is your biggest threat to achieving your goals. Nothing that is worth pursuing is done in the blink of an eye; it takes times, effort, proven techniques and you must definitely be patient and use a proven strategy for success. When desperation for the lack of success starts to creep into your mind, practice positive thinking and remind yourself that you have overcome obstacles before and generally are a good problem solver with the necessary abilities to learn and discover new ways to reach your goal. 

Overview of evidence for using  If…Then technique 

“The IF-Then technique has solid research behind it. Over 100 studies have been conducted to show its power in the personal change process. The studies have been on everything from diet education, exercise, fitness, negotiation techniques to energy and time management. To summarize these studies, they have shown that deciding in advance when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal (e.g., “If it is 1 pm, then I will now take my a fitness walk and mindfulness training for one hour.”)  The studies report that IF…Then planning can double or triple your chances for successful fulfilling your goal. 

Making if-then plans to tackle your New Year resolutions is probably – the single best mental tool you can adopt to propel you into positive action for reaching success goals”.


Directions for Using If-Then Planning:

When using this tool you are triggering positive mental chemicals and subtle behavioral cues—If X happens, then I will do Y.

  1. Amazingly, you are two to three times more likely to succeed if you use an if-then plan than if you don’t. In one study, 91 percent of people who used an if-then plan stuck to an exercise program, versus 39 percent of non-planners. Peter Gollwitzer, the NYU psychologist who first articulated the power of if-then planning, recently reviewed results from 94 studies that used the technique and found significantly higher success rates for just about every goal you can think of, from starting and maintaining a fitness plan to ignoring past mistakes and failures when trying to reach your goals. Carol Dweck, Mindset author and Growth science psychologist says  about Gollwitzer research “ Vowing, even intense vowing, is often useless. The next day comes and the next day goes. What works is making a vivid, concrete plan”. 

These plans work so well because they trigger and connect to the language of your brain: the language of contingencies. Humans are very good at encoding information in “If X, then Y” terms, and using this process to guide new actions and slowly change behavior. Deciding exactly when and where you will act on your goal is your choice and creates a link in your brain between the situation or cue (the if) and the behavior that should follow (the then).

Good Luck and have fun using this powerful technique for reaching your goal


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