If / When-Then: A Tactic to Help You Follow Through

If/When-Then planning

I’ve just about finished reading Robert Cialdini’s new book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade.

While it’s interesting and occasionally fascinating, I’ve gotten one big tip that is making a big difference in my life and you may find helpful, too. He calls it If/When-Then.  And I’ve been trying it out with promising results.

Connect Your Desired Behavior to Trigger Events

The idea is to tie goals you have to triggering events that lead to specific actions. These mental cues make it more likely that you will actually do the task or have the response you desire.

For example, yesterday when I did my morning walk at St Mary’s Park, I noticed that I didn’t push myself very hard.  I just sauntered.  And given that my purpose is exercise and not sight seeing, I thought I’d set a more ambitious goal for my walking.

Rather than just telling myself to up the ante, I framed it more specifically, setting a cue for the next day.

The first If/When-Then plan I tried…

When I go to the park tomorrow morning, then I will run three laps.

Lo and behold, this morning I went to the park and I actually ran three laps.  It worked much better than if I had just told myself to get the lead out of my pants and go faster.

According to Cialdini, when you make your goal action-specific and frame it in the context of other related circumstances, the chances are much better that you will actually accomplish it.

Sounds simple,  I know.  But these days, simple tricks are what I master best.

My Next If/When-Then plan…

My newest If/When-Then comes straight out of the Pre-Suasion book.  It’s this:

If I eat out at a restaurant and the waiter asks if I want dessert, then I will ask for a cup of hot tea instead.

I have little doubt that it will work better than my telling myself more generally not to order desert.

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Create an If/When-Then Plan for one of your goals

Pick a goal you’ve been wrestling with for some time. Perhaps loosing weight or exercising more or writing regularly. Then create a little If/When-Then plan for yourself.

For example, if I get hungry between meals, then I’ll treat myself to a piece of fruit and some almonds. Or, first thing in the morning, when I’ve had my first cup of coffee, then I’ll set the timer for 15 minutes and write.

Watch and see what happens. You may find it easier to accomplish your goals!

Share the results of your If/When-Then plan in the comments below. Or, when you develop your If/When-Then plan, then head on over to Facebook share it there.

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