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Implementation intentions (DW#581)

Last week we introduced the powerful practice of mental contrasting or WOOPing your goals. Have you tried it yet?

Peter Gollwitzer, a psychologist and leading researcher on the science of goal achievement (who happens to be Gabrielle Oettingen’s husband – love it when spouses team up to work at self growth <3 ), came up with the idea of implementation intentions for the Plan part of WOOP.

Once again, the idea is simple but brilliant:

IF x happens, THEN I will do y.

That’s it. This is how we plan and prepare for the obstacles that will definitely come in the way of realizing our goals and dreams.

If x (obstacle) happens or shows up

Then

I will do y (my plan for dealing with the obstacle).

This works because when we mentally rehearse something, we are preparing our minds to think of this as routine and we already have a plan in place to deal with it. And so we are not derailed or blindsided by it.


IF _________________________.

THEN ______________________.

GO!

...

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Four reasons why WOOPing works (DW#580)

There are some of us who are really really tied to the idea of visualizing success as the be-all and end-all to achieving their dreams.

Here’s the thing: if it is working for you, then please keep doing it and don’t change a thing.

For those of us who are finding that visualizing by itself is not helping us achieve our dreams (been dreaming of that dress size for a long long time – even have my old jeans hanging in the closet), we are not alone.

Here are some reasons why mental contrasting or WOOPing works better than visualizing by itself:

1) You have an insight and into why your current reality doesn’t match your ideal future

When you perform mental contrasting, it is common to experience some sort of "aha moment", an insight, or a revelation about why your goals haven’t materialized yet.

You become aware of obstacles that you’ve never even thought about before. And when you become aware of these obstacles you can prepare for them.

Here’s...

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An unexpected benefit of WOOPing (DW#579)

Let’s face it. We have goals that are in our comfort zone (they don’t stretch us at all), outside our comfort zone (the stretch zone – this is where the magic happens) or in the delusional zone.

Let’s take an example for someone like myself. I like the idea of health and fitness. Enjoy the process of eating clean and what it feels like. And I struggle with having a consistent fitness regime.

A stretch goal for me might be to consistently do an intermittent training workout 5 days a week for 6 months. It will be challenging and will require lots of motivation, consistency and will power but it is doable (though scary).

A delusional goal (fantasy) might be to run a 25Km marathon next week or to become a dress size 2 by summer.

Gabriele Oettingen’s dozens of studies have consistently shown that mental contrasting (the technical term for WOOPing) results in MORE motivation and a HIGHER chance of achieving our desired goals and outcomes when the goals are in...

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WOOP your dreams (DW#578)

Gabrielle Oettingen is a brilliant researcher who has spent her career studying the science of making your goals and dreams come to life.

She has come up with a simple but powerful way to manifest your dreams.

In her book Rethinking Positive Thinking, she also reminds us that it’s simply not enough to visualize our ideal life. Although it’s very important to start with a vision of our ideal lives, in order to make it happen, we need to "rub this dream up against reality."

Here is her WOOP formula for applying this idea in our lives.

W is for Wish - What do you want? At this point dream BIG. Imagine you have a magic wand. If you could have anything at all, what would it look like?
O is for Outcome - Why do you want it? What would it do for you if this dream became a reality? See it, feel it. REALLY feel it. Get excited.
O is for Obstacles - What’s in the way? What may stop you from getting what you want? Embrace the reality that there will be obstacles so that you...

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Just get started (DW#575)

Now that you are clear on your why, it is time to take action.

Please do not wait until you can see the whole staircase before you take the first step. You do NOT need to figure out how you will finish before you take start.

Start by walking 100 steps
Start by eating one vegetable
Start by saying one kind thing to your spouse
Start by being grateful for one tiny thing
Start by writing 100 words
Start by reading one page
Start by calling one friend
Start by listening to your child for 1 minute
Start by putting away your phone for 5 minutes
Start by clearing clutter from a single chair

Don’t worry about finishing yet.
Just get started. Now.

 

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The art of taking action (DW#574)

As we said yesterday, keeping busy is different from being engaged in meaningful work.

Gregg Krech puts it well in The Art of Taking Action.

He says: "The Art of Taking Action isn’t simply about keeping busy or checking things off your to-do list. It’s about choosing what to do, how to do it, and the development of character."

So come on. It is time to come clean. At least to yourself. Answer these two questions:

What are you procrastinating on? And
Why does it matter? In other words:
What is the cost of procrastination for you? Why is this a problem?
What would it do for you if you get this task/project done? How would it impact your life in a positive way if this task or project would be done?

Getting crystal clear on your WHY is really really important to push through the times when your inspiration leaves you.

 

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Productive procrastination (DW#573)

Can I share a secret?

When I am working on a creative project, such as writing, planning or working on a presentation, I get very productive. I clean out closets, cook up a storm, get my filing done, find great deals on Amazon, clean out more closets and drawers, organize the pantry . .

Anything to keep busy and stop feeling the anxiety that comes from producing meaningful work. . . .

I call it productive procrastination. A lot of stuff gets done.

Except what really matters.

Let’s not fool ourselves. Just because we are busy, it does not mean that we not procrastinating.

We need to make sure that we are doing work that really matters rather than merely busy work.

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You can take action despite your fears. (DW#568)

Can I tell you a little secret?

The most successful people in the world have the same fears that you and I do. Fears regarding failure, criticism and not meeting standards set by themselves and others. 

Really and truly. 

The only difference is that they take action despite their fears and their anxiety. 

The strength of their purpose is greater than the fears and the doubts that they experience. 

Really. 

You and I can also choose to act despite how we feel. 

Repeat after me: 
Feel the fear and take action anyway. 
Feel the fear and take action towards your goals. 
Feel the fear and take action towards your goals. 

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The anxiety of taking action (DW#567)

I really like how Neil Fiore explains our tendency to procrastinate in his book The Now Habit.

He says that procrastination is our way of coping with the anxiety that accompanies starting or completing any task or making any decision. 

According to him, we procrastinate to deal with feelings of low esteem, perfectionism, fear of failure (and of success), indecisiveness, an imbalance between work and play, ineffective goal-setting, and negative concepts about work and ourselves. 

It makes sense right? Think about something you are procrastinating about. And check in with yourself. What are the underlying feelings you are trying to deal with? 

Are you concerned that the task or project will not be done perfectly? Are you scared that once done, people can criticize your work (or worse, YOU)? Are you concerned that you will not measure up to your own (perhaps unreasonable?) standards of perfection?

Naming your fears and concerns is the first step to taming...

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Taking action is rather risky (DW#566)

One of the risks of completing any task or project is that once it is done, we realise that it is not perfect. Despite our best efforts we may still not succeed fully at what we tried. Moreover, people may criticise our efforts or our project. Putting ourselves out there makes us very vulnerable. 

Also, when we are in the process of doing one thing, we cannot do other things. Once we start taking committed action on one thing, we are losing the opportunity to do other things. At least at that time. We can experience major FOMO (Fear of missing out).

In other words, if we do not take action and we do not complete projects we save ourselves from the risk that accompanies any action. We are safe from failure, criticism and from having to decide on priorities. 

The ship of our life is safe in harbour. 


But here is the thing about ships: yes, ships are safest when they are docked in the harbour. 

But that is not what ships are built for, are they?

When we are out there in...

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