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Monday Motivation - If-Then Planning


GOOD MORNING MONDAY – AFFIRMATIVE THOUGHTS FOR A GREAT WEEK

Good Morning. It is Monday. How was your weekend? We are now beginning the first full week of January 😊.Beginning a New Year is a hopeful time. It is a time when many of us reflect on the visions, dreams, and goals we have for our life. Some of those goals materialize into a type of “resolution” for the new year. Many of us start out the year determined that we will follow through on our resolutions. The fact is that many do not stick to them for the entire year; in fact, many are lucky if they make it to February


There is a big gap between knowing what you want to do and getting it done. All of us have good intentions. We want to be laser focused on the critical tasks to achieve our goals, but instead we get distracted, procrastinate and our attention gets absorbed by areas that do not help us meet our objectives. So, does that mean that you cannot be successful achieving our goals? ABSOLUTELY NOT! What can you do to increase your odds of success? There is a simple strategy that has been proven to help you deal effectively with distractions. When you are effectively dealing with distractions, you can be successful achieving any goal.

The strategy is called “if-then planning”. Over 100 studies have been done on everything from diet and exercise to negotiation and time management. These studies have shown that if you decide, in advance, when and where you will take specific actions to achieve your goals, you can double or triple your chances of success. If-then plans work because they help you take action by creating a link between a situation, (which serves as a cue), and a behavior that should follow. The cue reminds you to take actions. It also helps the brain automate the behavior, so you do not have to rely so much on “self-control”


The structure of an if-then plan is simply; “if X happens; then I will do Y”. So, how can you incorporate if-then plans into the goals you made for the New Year, or create them for success in everyday challenges? Here are some examples:

  • Sample New Year’s Resolution: Lose Weight. Often, our plan to reach this objective sounds like: “eat less; exercise more”. However, this is not specific enough. How much less will you eat, specifically, and of what? What type of exercise will you do and how often?

The if-then plan spells out exactly what you will do in critical situations. For example: If I am out to dinner and the dessert menu comes (X), then, I will order coffee instead (Y). Or, if it is Monday, Wednesday or Friday (X), then I will work out 1 hour at the gym after work (Y).

  • Sample “everyday” situations using if-then plans: If I am getting too distracted by my colleagues (X), then I will stick to a 5-minute chat limit and head back to work (Y). If it is 2 pm (X), then I will spend an hour reading and responding to important emails (Y). If it is 5 PM and I am still at work (X), then I will phone home to let them know I will be late (Y). If I feel stressed (X), then I will take three deep breaths (Y).

By using if-then plans, you will be two to three times more likely to succeed than if you do not. One study showed that 91% of the people who used an if-then plan stuck to their exercise program vs. 39% of non-planners. Additionally, a recent review of results from 94 studies showed that people who used if-then techniques found higher success rates for just about every goal they attempted.


These plans are so effective because they are written in the language of your brain. Human beings are good at encoding and remembering information in if “X” then “Y” terms and using them to guide behavior and awareness. So, once you have formulated your if-then plan, your unconscious brain starts scanning the environment searching for the “if” part of your plan; which enables you to seize the critical moment, even if you are busy doing other things.

If you are finding that you have goals or daily important tasks not being accomplished and you want a way to build a habit to be successful; start by making if-then plans. You can use them to tackle larger goals or create them each morning to tackle the day’s challenges.

It is 2019. It is a new year. It is a fresh start. Rethink your approach. When you are faced with a new challenge, implement an if-then plan and experience a higher rate of success! What have you got to lose?


Have a GREAT day; have a GREAT week!

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