Hey! – Rob here
Your Daily Health Fix today is about …
A trick for automating good habits
Making a plan (in advance) and including firm decisions on directions, actions and timings, significantly increases the chances of completing whatever the specific intention or goal is. There are many reasons why this works, not least the fact that with decisions made, distractions or alternative options don’t get as much chance to displace the original plan. Whereas, trying to be decisive on the spot often leads to impulsive action that doesn’t always serve towards the greater goal.
Pre-determination of behaviours and actions can be effective in many elements of life – from making sure you fit every stop into an adventure trip of a lifetime, to starting a business taking a concept from idea stage into production and sales, or for turning your health around by losing weight, getting fit, and saying goodbye to chronic complaints and ailments.
In the world of automated processes –
From the smartphones in our hands to the control centres of production lines, self driving cars, automated distribution centres, computer systems everywhere are coded to perform specific actions when certain criteria or sets of criteria are met.
This is known as conditional logic.
Let’s use an Amazon purchase as an example . . .
When you buy multiple items on one order, the Amazon processing systems asks a number of questions in order to know how to proceed in the most efficient manner.
– Are all the items in stock in one warehouse?
– Can the items be packed together?
– Has the user selected the ‘ship my items in one box’ option?,
. . . and many many more data points that Amazon need to know in order to pick, pack, ship and deliver your items.
Here’s how conditional logic fits in that scenario:-
Can the items be packed together? If yes, give the user the option to choose if to send the items individually from their separate warehouses, or to wait until they can be packed together. If no, don’t offer the option to the user.
Has the user chosen for the items be packed together? If yes, hold on the first item until second item arrives at this location. If no, pack and send items individually as soon as possible.
Are all the items now in stock in one warehouse? If yes, pick both items and pack together. If no, send picking trigger to each warehouse for the relevant item.
The common denomenator in the decision making process is ‘IF x; DO y’ – and all these potential triggers and actions have been determined in advance to allow for efficient automation.
In the psychology of the human mind –
It’s often stated that once a plan is made, we are already half way towards achieving a desired goal. While this might not be objectively correct, the sentiment remains that when a plan is made, first steps can be determined and completed. With no plan, progress in the right direction is at best going to be a fluke, but more likely going to be inefficient or a waste of time altogether.
Behavioural psychologists have observed that we can apply similar pre-determination of actions that industry and tech uses into our daily lives in order to trigger positive behaviours and make it more likely that we stay on track.
Of course the human mind isn’t as binary as our digital counterparts, and distractions are always trying to trip us up. But when we have thought through a number of possible scenarios and potential triggers, and have decided which actions are to be performed in the presence of each trigger – the likelihood of developing and maintaining a new habit is significantly stronger than if no plan was made at all.
Previously we discussed about how tiny habits form comprehensive systems and good systems hit targets and achieve ambitious goals.
1. Choose a habit you would like to adopt (or break)
2. Choose an easy to recognise trigger
3. Write down the relevant IF;Then statements (yes, write it down)
For example, here’s a few ideas to use if you want to stop smoking:-
IF I recognise that I’m craving a cigarette; THEN open my habit tracker and look at how many days I’ve already checked off for not smoking (to remind myself how well I’m doing and acknowledge why I needed to stop)
IF someone offers me a cigarette; THEN say ‘no thanks I don’t smoke’ (rather than saying I’m trying to quit)
IF I smell a cigarette; THEN look at my habit tracker to celebrate my progress AND move away or ask the person to stop smoking
IF I have a re-lapse; THEN Immediately write down the feeling, situation, mood that led to the slip up (forgive yourself and start your winning streak again).
Top tips –
– The triggers (the IF’s) should be easy to recognise.
– The actions (the THEN’s) should be simple and friction free to execute on the spot.
– Always track your progress with a habit tracker to monitor success, and a journal to review sticking points and alter the plan (if necessary).
– In the case of trying to stop a bad habit, use the IF;THEN statement to trigger a better choice of habits (i.e. if I do bad thing x; THEN I must do good thing y (as punishment or as compensation, or just as part of the process to start doing the good thing more often).
The chances are, that with a few moments of prior consideration, you’ll be well on your way to maximizing success and avoiding slip-ups.
. . . That’s it for this dose,
Until the next time – Stay Motivated!💪🏼
P.S. If you’re enjoying these updates and they are helping you, please support me and The Health Fix by buying me a coffee ☕️
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