The Power of Habits

 

The Power of Habits

 

Lesson Info

Abstract to Specific Goals

It's an important part of achieving goals that you that you take a realistic stance on what's possible and that you don't know which is not to say that you may not you may exceed your goal, right? But if you're realistic about it then at least you don't give up and think office is impossible okay now it's enough for me to say this stuff but I want you guys to actually think this through a little bit so if you go to aa page nine of your worksheet and for those of you who still haven't downloaded the worksheet then please get the pdf okay um nuff said um page nine there's a thing that's his abstract in specific goals so what I want you to do is to take your abstract goal, okay? And then after that what you're going to do is to is to find some of the reasons why you're going to fail. Okay, so you make use of those resource is to talk yourself out of things and figure out at least three reasons why uh why this plan of yours is not going to succeed and then on then I want you to come up wit...

h a tte leased five specific goals if not seven which is on the sheet, but at least five that will be actions that you can take that make reference to particular times of day, days of the week that will help you to align the specific actions you're going to take with this abstract kel. Okay, and then one of you, one of you who has not come to the hot seat yet is going to get up here and talk to us about this. So why don't we take a few minutes to go ahead and do that of us? Were watching at home can also do this while people here in the studio are doing it. If you've already downloaded the workbook, by all means, now is the time to answer those questions. Write down your goals as well and share them with us in the chatter. And we're working on the technology to download you to the huts someday, but I still have that virtual hot seat ready. We do have some questions that came in what students are writing here now. You know, a lot of people in the chat room, they love their tv it's hard for them. Tio accept that. But this question comes from through me and they say, what if you use tv to unwind it's actually serving a purpose in some sense, not just wasted time uh, well, you know what? I'm not down on tv in general. Uh that is I'm a big believer that that we do need some amount of down time in our lives one of the things that I recommend with any of the resource is we spend in our lives is just it's just to look at those resource is and ask, am I using those in the best possible way? And you know, if you're if you're watching on hour of tv or a half hour tv a day and you're using it just is a way of letting the world wash over you for a few minutes, you know, and you're happy with that great I don't have a problem with that it's because it's not mine it's not my life, right? I mean no and I don't mean that in a in a condescending way, you know, we all have to figure out how you know what's the best way to live our lives, but if there's something that you're really burning to do, you have to ask yourself where's the resource is going to come from to do it and uh and sometimes that requires other trade off. So, you know, there are certainly days when I'd like to sit, you know, kick back by the tv and unwind and um but but it turns out that playing the sax is also a great way of of unwinding for me um, so, you know, I would I would say that that, you know, it's it's mostly a matter of looking to see where the available resources are and to see what tradeoffs you're willing to make. Great. Now this question comes from johnny, and they say, if you want to do something abstract or big where you don't know the exact steps, what do you do? How do you break things down when you have no idea what needs to be done and what sequence to do them? How do you prepare for the resource is if you have no clue what to expect, yeah, so, um, I think the way to approach this is to say the on ly way you can possibly succeed at the big picture goals in your life is to get down to that level of specificity, right? That's what's required in order to be able to succeed now, it's very possible that you don't know how to do it now, there are two options there, all right? One possibility is you're trying to do something that nobody on the face of the planet has ever done before, in which case nobody knows how to do it, and you're gonna have to you're gonna have to discover, right, um that may not be for most things that may not be it in which case you know what you want to do it is to you know we're gonna talk a little bit tomorrow about using the people around you but just isa preview of that right? One of the things that we want to do is to find someone who does know all right, you know that this is that this is one of the reasons why we find teachers and why I mean, for example, when I bought a sax I didn't know how to buy saks I didn't know I didn't know what I was supposed to buy and in fact I called the saxophone teacher I eventually got I said, uh and he said you have a sax I said no, he said good and he said, I'll take care of getting it for you and there was a whole elaborate thing that involved my meeting him in a parking lot giving him six hundred dollars in cash but way we'll leave that aside, it worked it all worked out in the end, but but there was a tremendous amount I had to learn about about what was required and learning to play the saxophone and and so you know, that's part of the adventure of achieving some new goal is in engaging in that research process and in engaging with people to help you figure that out maybe have one more quick one while we're sure finishing up writing here and this one comes from brainiac and I know we're gonna talk a little bit about this and future segments but they want to know specifically what you do with the spouse or a friend who is that habitual tv watcher how do you kind of get them to maybe see the light or change their habits yeah um so that's a that's an interesting one I mean you know, changing other people's behavior on the one hand um the more you understand about changing behavior the more that you can influence the people around you to change theirs but in some ways they have tto one to do that and uh and if so if you have a spouse or a friend who is spending a huge amount of time watching television and you don't approve um you may have to decide whether this is simply something that you're gonna have to accept a difference between you or whether this is something that you really want to try to go after and see if if you can get them to change my experience is that if someone has no desire whatsoever to change a particular behavior you're going to have a hard time getting them to change that behavior but one thing that you can do is to is to make it exciting teo to be doing things differently right I think that that, um if the alternative toe teo watching television is to sit and stare at each other and not really do anything that's probably not that exciting but you know, if the alternative is to go out and you know here's some music at a club oh are you know go out to a nice dinner or or take a walk in in nature than you know that might might eventually become more attractive sounds good thank you cool. I love these questions these questions you keep coming chat room we love this awesome that's not multi times you guys need another minute are you guys doing all right? Another minute you got another question let's see? I mean, we do have a couple here. Um now all right, casey, I wants to know about mohr prompting questions for you when you're ready to say start playing the saxophone or you're ready to stop watching tv what are some of those initial questions that you want to ask you? Yeah that's a that's a good question so so that you know, one of the things you want to start with his task is to ask what are the so so actually if you if you download the uh the the the pdf and if you don't download the pdf you decide steadfastly you're not going down with the pdf then you could buy a copy of smart, smart change and the same questions aaron there but one of the first things that you want to do and there's a little chart here actually on page eight on one of the initial ways that you can do things it's just ask yourself what kinds of actions might I need to take just generally what are some of the actions that I think I might need to take in order teo in order to achieve this goal and those actions might be vague, that is they might be like I don't know how to do this but it's somehow I'm going to need to get a saxophone right? You know? And I assume I'm going to need to practice right? And then you also want to know what are the obstacles, right? You want to start listing out those what's going to go wrong? And the third thing you want to start asking yourself is, how am I going to know if I'm succeeding or failing? Right? And so and so there's there's actually a column in this little work she called signs and the signs are how do I know if I'm if I'm succeeding or failing? Because you'd like to, you'd liketo have some sense of whether things were going well or not? What would it look like an over different time frames? What would it look like? Tb making some progress or not making surprise a quick follow up question that just came in from lala and they're asking about research overwhelmed now for instance say you're going to get a saxophone and you see that there are thousands of saxophones to choose from when do you have to say ok, I just want to get a saxophone so I could take that next step when is it too much when you look into these things yeah that's a great question and it actually gets back to this this issue of the of the trade off between effort and accuracy right? And so what I would say is if you don't know in a domain and for example I had no idea when I when I learned to play the saxophone um how to get a sax um I asked somebody and in this you know and in the event the teacher said I'll buy you something right on that took the decision completely out of my hands because otherwise I would have been overwhelmed sometimes they'll say things like, you know, it doesn't matter so just just get something you know for the first in fact you know, for the first eight years that I played I got I had this very I mean six hundred dollars is it turns out not a lot of money to pay for a saxophone and uh and I you know and and for years I would say to my sax so do I need a new sax you know because I know there are nicer horns out there he'd say now you'd never know the difference now you know you never know which was a coded way of saying yeah you're still not good enough for that andi and then after about eight years you know he said I said I find you know every six months or so I do that so you think I should get a new sax and he looked at me and he said yeah yeah I think you could get a new horn and so you know it but it was you know it took a lot of time to get to that point but but I think engaging with people who already have more expertise is really valuable thing to do I mean it's it's just so useful toe have people who can guide you through a process because there are there are too many choices I mean just like I you know the I mean we talked this morning about theo the overwhelming wall of blenders at bed bath and beyond and you know I I would liketo have a blender navigator when I get there I mean someone who could just ask me three easy questions and then say ah you want thes is nine thousand you know I'd say great thank you you know and I'd walk away happy alright yeah so you know, other people are a great source? I mean, if you trust them right, then other people could be a great source of information. All right, uh, there's, the hot seat. Who wants the hotsy? Come on. Ok, love this. All right, all right. So what's what's the big picture. Okay, so, uh, the abstract goal is to land a fulfilling job. There you go. Very abstract limitations and conflicts. Yeah. Okay. Uh, one thing I wanna have ah, social life. I want to see my friends. I won't extend my social network another bike limited his career capital. I might be limited in my career capital and thus the ability to attract company in the position that I want. So when you say career capital, you mean skills skills, let's, say on my cv, maybe a lack of recognisable names, okay, yeah. All right, so so we're going, teo, actually, so this is interesting, right? When you begin to do this, I mean, these these words are good, but they're catch als, right? And as you begin to plan for those breaking those down into their bits, right and saying ok, so crude capitals partly might be experienced, partly might be skills partly, it might be things that might attract the attention of potential employers that are tangentially related to skills and experience right? Right and so and it's worth doing that because as you begin to plan for those things, you'll want to address each of those pieces, right? Yeah, because these khun still be kind of abstract, right? Exactly right uh and the third is actually it's a goal that I didn't realize I kind of was a specific goal is that I actually wanted to be a specific position in a specific industry and that might be not completely aligned with the overall of straggle of choosing something that's actually feeling uh all right, so so you may have to overcome a preconception about exactly what it is that you wanted to do exactly interesting. Yeah. So there's a okay, so I was so how are you going to do this? Okay, um and so with a little I found it difficult without exactly scheduling times and finding the exact group and you know what? Not don't need to go down to go for it. Okay. Eso won would be contacting five to ten people a week to set of informational interviews or phone calls, okay, finding them through linkedin and through my own network. Okay, uh, second we connect to the san francisco food industry through these podcast interview so scheduling once a month once a week excuse me, good three would be to go to one hackathon a month four is goto one meet oppa week related to tech or product management five is to an hour a day after lunch taking computer science course starting my phone very specific that's good and six is to support myself financially as I'm doing this. So one thought was about freelance writing I could do one block books today and just have a some income coming in that's great and and, you know, what's what's interesting is is, you know, even for some of these, you know what? What you what you may end up wanting to do is for example, to set a particular day of the week when you're going to be checking, you know, meet up or whatever to find out what's going on that week really to make sure that that these things are on the schedule because I think I always worry about for things that are once a week once a month is is that's still it's almost there in terms of scheduling? But now if you really want to say, okay, you know, I'm gonna prep the week on mondays and so you know, or or sunday evening or friday afternoon, you know, I mean, depending on what works with schedule, but here are some of the places where I'm going to those things that have to happen once a week here is the ideal time for those that happened or the things that are gonna happen once a month. You know, I'm really gonna do those on the first month of the fifteenth. I mean, and you have to you have to, um, you have to learn a little bit when is the ideal time? You know, it might turn out that that interviews get scheduled at, you know, on a starting on the twentieth. And so actually doing something on the eighteenth turns out to be the ideal thing to do, so but this is awesome. That's a great start loving. Yeah, thanks. Thanks for taking us. And one of the things that this raises that I think is really important is, is not only do we begin to have to get really specific, but we have to learn that that these plans that we create our initial plans, their guidelines, actually, the book smart change, I tell a story about the very first time I got to get a research grant. So research grants are sort of like these these proposals of you know, these plans. And when you write a research grant, you actually specify about three, with three to five years worth of research you're doing, depending on the agency replying to, and you have to get into a fair amount of specificity about the nature of the questions you're asking and the the research methods you're going to use and even at some two, sometimes even, you know, approximately the number of participants, you're going tohave in the studies and things like that so it's, a fairly detailed plan of several years worth of research. And, uh, and my first job after graduate school, uh, actually, my first tenure track job after graduate school was was working at columbia university in new york and and I applied for a research grant from the national science foundation, and, uh, and the second time that I applied, I actually got a call from the program officer and telling me that they were going to fund my research, and I was, you know, I was just ecstatic because it's a big moment as a researcher to be to get a research grant, I mean, it was it was incredibly I was just I was very excited. So I and so there was arousal associated with this let's, you know, through all the terms around, I leap. I leapt up from my desk and I walked out of the office and I had to tell someone because, you know, sometimes something happens just have to tell somebody and the first person I bumped into its one of my colleagues and I said to him, I got the nss gonna fund my research, and he looked at me and he said, uh, he said, yeah, that's, great art. My only fear is that you're gonna do the research that you proposed, and at first I was like, what? But then I realized what he was actually talking about, which is there is a sense in which you might think, having proposed three years worth of research, you'd better do those three years worth of research, but really, it's a guideline, this this three year proposal is, is how you get started, but frankly, no one should fund your research if you're not gonna learn anything from the work that you do. And if you if you learn something from that work, it means you're going to change your plan over time. And so the stuff you do in year three is going to be tangentially related to what you propose to do but tangentially related in the sense that having conducted two really good years worth of research, you will have learned enough that you're asking better questions than you were when you started. How does this apply to you? Your plan has to be really specific, but it isn't written in stone. Okay you're gonna learn things along the way you're gonna learn things about yourself what does and doesn't work what doesn't doesn't motivate you you're going to learn things about the people around you what you can and can't rely on them to do right? And you need to be constantly revising your plan and be willing to take all the new information that you get to make changes in your plan to take into account all the new information that comes in so as you learn that plan will will grow and it will change so you know when I learned to play the saxophone my very first nice very excited to get my new sax I can't I still remember I brought it home I took it out of the case and it was all bright and shiny and I remembered how to get all the pieces together which was a kn adventure in and of itself and I played for like forty five minutes you know, just tryingto play songs that were playing they were in bed that I that I knew that were in my head and the next morning one of my kids who was like seven at the time came walking up to me and he said were you playing your new saxophone last night daddy and I said yes I was he said I thought so it sounded like you were moving chairs in the kitchen and at that moment it occurred to me that the saxophone is really loud and that and that may be playing this thing within earshot of a seven year old who was trying to sleep was not a great long term plan and so I had to adjust right? So I started playing in the garage after that where I annoy the neighbors but not my kid and you know it was but it was a matter of adapting all the way through right making, making being willing to being open to making changes in the way that things were being done and I think that that's that's a really critical part of ultimately succeeding I mean, part of the problem is you you're gonna put in a lot of effort to really make a plan for how to change your behavior and a lot of times once you've put that effort in your reluctant to change that plan but when new information comes in you have to be willing to adapt, you know and and so now adapting the plan is not the same thing is giving up on the plan. Okay, um I I really you know recommend one of the reasons I recommend engaging with other people is because, uh, changing your behavior is hard work okay? And uh and I virtually guarantee that if you try to change your behavior, you will fail sometimes you will have bad days you will miss a meet up that you wanted to go to right? Um I've missed saxophone I in fact I have a saxophone lesson on thursday morning that I'm not going to be at because I'm going to be here right? Um that's life right? You have to be willing to recognize the trade offs that come up and to and to be willing to accept those that they're going to be days where you fail at the thing that you're trying to do you have to be kind to yourself there's a lot of research right now on what's called self compassion, which is interesting so for a long time starting in the seventies we were really particularly us we're really into self esteem self esteem is I got to feel good about myself and so you know, the self esteem movement lead to things like giving kids lots of trophies for participation and stuff like that because that would make them feel good and course kids were smarter than that if everyone gets a trophy then nobody got a trophy right? Um and and so um and it turns out that actually feeling just feeling good about yourself only gets you so far in fact, it doesn't it doesn't necessarily help you to change your behavior, but one of the things that does help you to change your behavior is what's called self compassion and self compassion is the willingness to accept failure in your life the way I like to talk about this and I go to businesses and talk about this all the time is that businesses and and people in general need tto learn to distinguish between negligence and failure negligence is a punishable offense and failure is is a learning experience it's part of life that's a learning experience negligence is when you just don't put in the effort at work or in or in your attempts of behavior change you know if you say I'm going to go teo teo one meet up a month and then you just never look it up that's negligence if you if you look up the meeting you put it on your calendar and then a friend gets sick and you miss the thing that you had scheduled to go to that's a failure and maybe you think okay from now on I'm gonna have a backup if I can't make this one I'm gonna go to that other one right? And so you revise your plan on the basis of a failure okay? Um that's compassion that's that's what that says is yeah, I blew it it didn't go all right but I'm going to do better next time I'm going to learn from it and it turns out it's very hard for us to learn from failure because we have a really lousy relationship to failure that was developed starting when we were young, we went to first grade and we took quizzes and we took spelling tests and teachers marked things off with red pen and took points off when we got stuff wrong and what that taught us was mistakes or bad never make mistakes, which is a problem because in fact, while mistakes are sort of bad meaning you want to minimize the number of mistakes you make, when you make a mistake, the reaction to that is not I should have points taken off. I should feel shame, it's I made a mistake, how doe I learn so that I don't make that mistake again? And we have to unlearn a lot of habits relating to failure that we picked up in school once we get out into the world so that we learn to fail better and to accept failure, better accept failure from other people again punished negligence, don't punish failure, teach people to learn from the failures that they have teach yourself tto learn from the failures that you have and to me, if you learn to do that, then your attempted changing your behavior go much better because you will fail sometimes repeatedly, but if you fail, you know there's a there's, a, um pete heine, whose ah was a poet, among other things, has thea uh has has a greatly of these little um uh these little poems that he called groups and he had he had won that he called the road to wisdom and the road to wisdom is is to error and error and arrogant but less and less and less which I love right? You know we're going to make mistakes but if we learn from those mistakes and we do better each time then we have a prayer of actually changing the baby our behavior in the way that we want to change it. So just just to summarize this part right I mean what I would be exercise you've gone through is creating what's called an implementation intention and there's a whole bunch of research a real raft of research now behind the idea that if you create an implementation intention if you envision the future and then create a specific plan to get you there that you will be much more likely to succeed than if you don't do that now there are two parts that the first is essentially fantasizing about the future when you fantasize about the future what you want to do is to figure out how the future that you desire is going to be different from the present that you have right now you want to figure out what that difference is so that you understand what has to change in order to get from here to there and then you want to create these specific implementation intentions that are the kinds of things that you started tow to right now, right? Particular actions you khun take on particular days, right? I always like to say, remember that tomorrow never comes when somebody says, I'm going to do this tomorrow, okay? It's never tomorrow it's always today. And so at some point in your plan, there have to be actions you take today that will engage you towards the big picture goal. Okay? They have to be specific actions that you have that you're going to perform. They have to take into account the obstacles that you're going to face, and they have to be part. They have to be realistic in terms of their day desired outcomes. And if you do that, then you put yourself in a much better situation, uh, related to your capacity to get stuff done. Now, if we think about what we're saying here, right? We're trying to change your world ever so slightly. So again, think back to this image we had at the beginning of our last section of I give you a transcript of what your day looks like every day. Okay? And you code that transcript? You you, um you look at each event that you did and you ask yourself, how does this contribute towards the big picture? Things that I'd like to accomplish. What we want to do is tow adm or things into your day that move you towards the things that you'd like to accomplish and to remove things that will not get you towards the things that you're trying to accomplish. Yes, we actually did want to make a transcript of, like, our day. Yeah. Uh, do you have any other suggestions than just writing down at nine o'clock? You know, I did this until ten or um, yeah, so so there are there are easier ways in terms of so okay, there are several things that you can do there's several different kinds of tools. The first is, you know, I'm actually a big fan of google calendar, right? And so, you know, and and taking ten minutes at lunchtime and another ten minutes right before you leave before you finish your day, whether it's leaving work or doing something else and just going through the previous four hours and and mohr lesson in, you know, half our time blocks or our time blocks making a making ah, you know, going over what you did right, that's it's weird that's, easy, because it can be typed, it's accessible from wherever you are. You can't lose it, you know, that's valuable that's one thing the other thing is, if you look on the web, you confined some number of, um, aps uh, extensions, I guess is the word I want for your web browser that will give you information about how much time you spent on different websites during the day, and that can be really eye opening. I'm a big believer in in in getting some data about your life in various forms, and I'll give you two examples. So one is these kinds of programs, so that you can discover exactly how much time did I spend on facebook today, or twitter, or linked in or whatever it is? And, um, I ok with that if that number is twenty minutes or forty minutes, you know, maybe that's ok, if it turns out to be two hours and fifteen minutes, maybe unless okay with that, or maybe I am okay with that again, it's an individual differences thing, but it's useful tohave the information, and some of these extensions will actually provide you with that information for free that is you, don't you, don't, you know you won't have to actually, pay attention to it. You can just get that information later. That sort of thing is really useful. The other thing I recommend for almost anyone, regardless of what your goals are, isa predominate. Actually, this is just as an aside on dh. This is I didn't believe in the value of the predominate until I got a nap for my for my smartphone for a chronometer. So the surgeon general tells us we're supposed to get ten thousand steps a day and in the abstract, you think hep, of course, ten thousand steps a day, a piece of cake. Okay, in this specific I want you to bear in mind that that that most of a stride approximately one yard, uh, when we, you know, about three feet when we when we take a step, there are seventeen hundred and sixty yards in a mile, so ten thousand steps is slightly over five miles. Ask yourself. Really? When was the last time you walked five miles in a day? Now? I didn't do it that specifically. I bought a predominant. I got this app on my phone. That was a predominant er and I strapped it on to my phone and I walked around for a day. And I got to like sixty, three hundred steps and I was like, oh, that's pathetic and that was with walking the dog, you know? And the amount of effort it took me to get from sixty, three hundred steps to ten thousand was kind of ridiculous, you know, it turns out that that learning a little bit more about what you do all day can can be really eye opening, so so whether whether you have a goal towards physical fitness or not, most of us should have atleast it's a small one, I think a predominance that crate thing have but more generally, a little bit of measurement about your life. I don't I don't necessarily recommend over measuring your life, I think it's possible to do that, and I think there are people who do do that. Um, but I think a little bit of measurement about about how you spend your time, you know, related to your goals, if its productivity at work, then you know, paying attention to how much time you're spending on websites could be useful if it's physical fitness, you know, getting one of those wearable fitness devices can be can be on eye opening experience, but but, you know, doing something to really give you a cheaper way of getting some of this information because you're right, we're busy and, you know, how much time do you really want to spend, you know, going over things. But I do think that even in twenty minutes a day, you can actually do a pretty good job of getting a sense of of how you were spending the day, you know, and I think a lot of us don't even really do that. You sort of leave work and move on to the next thing. And, you know, and really, how often do you sort of say, what in the world that I actually accomplished today? And a lot of us even avoid that question? Because it's kind of frightening, uh, when we get the answer. But I think it's important, because you can't change your behaviour until you acknowledge what your current behavior is.

Class Description

Setting a goal is one thing, but actually doing the work to achieve that goal is a totally different endeavor. If you want to hit your targets and make lasting changes in your life, join author and psychologist Art Markman, Ph.D., to learn what it takes to build and maintain healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

This course won’t serve up superficial self-help tips; instead, you’ll dive into the latest cognitive science behind behavior change. You’ll learn how to build new, positive habits and break the cycle of existing negative ones. You’ll explore what it takes to sustain healthy habits over time and increase your chances of maintaining new habits by empowering your friends and family to make positive changes, too.

Don’t waste another day simply wishing you could make a change that really sticks — equip yourself with the techniques you need to transform your life in measurable, powerful, and positive ways.