How Planning To Fail Is Your Key To Success

IMPLEMENTATION INTENTIONS AND CREATING TRIGGERS

How do you stay on track to reaching a goal when you’re struggling to stay motivated? One answer that psychologists have hit upon is called “implementation intentions.” It’s a simple principle, which comes down to knowing ahead of time exactly what you’ll do if you veer off course, as well as defining precisely what veering off course means for you.

PUTTING FAILURE-PLANNING TO WORK

Developing implementation intentions creates a strong mental link between the “if” component and the “then” component. You actually want your “then” response to the critical situation to kick in more or less automatically, should you reach it.

FOCUS ON THE PROCESS

Although writing and visualizing the completion of your goal can be helpful, research has found that visualizing the process (the barriers you’ll face and your responses to them) in which you’ll achieve your goal can improve your performance and decrease anxiety.

  • Write it down.
  • Give it a timeline, preferably a fairly short one.
  • Imagine all the potential obstacles you’ll face in achieving that goal.
  • Write those obstacles down.
  • Now come up with an if-then response you will have to each of those obstacles.

The more specific your plan, the more successful you’ll be.

Other research found that implementation intentions usually don’t help people who evaluate their own behaviors based on other people’s or societal standards. In other words, your goals need to be intrinsically motivating, not pegged to something that others find important but you might not.

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Benjamin Hardy, PhD

Written by

Husband and father of 5 kids. Organizational Psychologist. Currently writing my next book: Personality Isn’t Permanent.

The Mission

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org