Commiting to Your Goals
Now this takes a lot of work. So while we have a break in the action on the screen here, this is actually perfect cause I was just about to do this. I meant this. Um, if you go to page seven in the handout and for those of you who still haven't r s v p with you r s v p and download the pdf by now, please it's free it's, easy. And I would I could stop repeating this if everyone had done this already. You know, I want youto I want you to begin to think, I mean, in the next section, we're going to be creating a specific plan to accomplish something, right. And at the end of these three days, I would like all of you to feel like you're at least on the road towards making a significant change in your life of some kind. And so I want to talk right now about how do we start this process? Okay? And to start this process, we need to figure out what is the big thing we'd like to accomplish. Making little tiny, itty bitty changes in our behavior is not the kind of thing that plagues us, right? It...
's, the big changes that tend to get us. So what is the big change you want to make? Right have you thought about it right? Do you know what some of the big things are? Is that a personal thing that you're trying to change? Is it a work thing is that have to do with your ability to be productive? What are the things that you want to do and what I recommend doing is just I want to just go through this exercise just a couple of minutes on this so again on page seven what what do you really want to accomplish what's the big thing and then ask yourself why is this goal important and ask yourself are you sure this is really the right goal for you and the reason that I want you to go through this is because remember we've already begun to see this what I'm asking you to do to change your behavior is a lot of work it's a lot of work do you really put that workinfor this is this really worth it? I mean this gets back to a question I guess that came in earlier, right? Well part of what you want to do is before you even start before you even start figure out whether this is something you're willing to commit to or not and if it is something you're willing to commit to, then the rest of this work will roll off and you know you could be really successful but if you're not committed to it if you're not committed to it then it's some point you wake up and think you know the heck with it I'm just eating the ice cream so why don't we take a couple of minutes on dh just fill that cheat out and I'll I'll wander over here and see if there were any other questions yeah we do have some questions coming in this one comes from ivette and they say are there any japs or websites that you can remit recommend to visually stay accountable for keeping track of our progress yeah that's a great question so so absent websites for progress um you know there are several different things that you could try to do one I mean in terms of progress I actually recommend you know, the difficulty with aps and things like that for progress is that that an app requires that you have a goal who structure was envisioned by the people who wrote the app and and so I really feel like you know, a lot of this is actually something you could do with your own calendar all right I mean so so next section we're going to talk about how to set up a plan once you've got a good plan a good plan is one that's specific enough you can actually get that thing onto your calendar so uh so then get it on your calendar and ask yourself did I do it how am I doing right? And I feel like that's that's I think that's a little bit more effective in terms of keeping track of your progress um I do think though, that that there are some interesting websites to play around with if we think about goal engagement there's there's been a lot of discussion lately about what are called commitment contracts, which so these ideas that I have a goal I'd like to achieve and I can't really get myself motivated to do it so if I make a contract with you that if I do it, nothing will happen but if I don't do it, I'm going to give a lot of money to you or better yet I'm going to give a lot of money to you and you're going to give that money to a charity I hate right? And that sort of thing can be really effective in the short term forgetting yourself engaged it's not good for long term goal achievement it's it's best used to get yourself over the hump for some people that's getting him started for a lot of people there's kind of a lull in the middle right there you know, if you think about new year's resolutions right, you know, six hundred million people, whatever you know it's an unscientific figure a lot of people get themselves excited about joining the gym and if you're a regular gym a tender than like the first week of january is the worst time to go to the gym because there's all these people who the who there don't belong there right there not regulars, they don't know what they're doing and the only thing that's the only thing that makes it bearable is the knowledge that they'll be gone by the third week of january uh but then they're gone right? So so here's, the thing that first week of january people people do it, they go to it, you know? I mean gyms I think, you know, make their whole yearly nut by by selling memberships that first week in january that most people are never going to use so you don't often you don't need the motivation to get started it's it's after those first few weeks that you might need it right? Or if you need to know if you need to get motivated to exercise when you're on vacation, for example, one way you can do that is by setting up a commitment contract for the length of your vacation while I'm on vacation, I'm going to go jogging three times and if I don't go, you know, and if I don't go jogging three times, then you're going to take this money and give it to this horrible charity, right? And so that gets you the motivation to get through that week and so it's really good for these very targeted things and there is a website called stick s t k k two two k's dot com that will formulate commitment contracts if you don't want to just build one yourself um and so there are some tools like that that could be pretty good awesome how'd you guys do all right so who's got a goal for us that they want to talk about I got a hot photo I I'm happy to but I don't love somebody else want the hot seat for this you may have one yourself all right? I'm gonna get somebody else up there e I have been told that none of you is in the federal witness protection program so it's okay for us to broadcast your images all right, so my big picture is to manage my autoimmune symptoms through nutrition excellent uh the goal is important because it gives me a higher quality of life. I have more energy and therefore I could be more productive to achieve other goals and also what I'm so I don't have kids yet saw I'll be sort of an older parent and I want to be able to take care of myself so that I could be a good parent good um and um I sure this is the right goal and I say yes because managing these symptoms are the foundation that sort of everything stumps from right so, you know that's great, right mean what's nice about that is it's very clear that you've got you've got that the big picture goal. So how you achieve that that's going to be the subject of the next set of, uh, of exercises, but it's something that you're willing to make a commitment to? And I think that's that's the really important bit right? And and I worry about, you know, I think it's really important to be willing to take a step back from from this gold this process before you start and ask yourself, am I willing to commit to this because it's surprising how often people make these, you know, these things, I'm going to do this thing really? Yeah, no, I'm not going to do that, you know, and it's better to just it's better to just admit that upfront when you I'm not willing to do it in part because think about what happens, we all fail it stuff, right? Um so so the question is what? Um, you know, what's our reaction to failure, and we don't want to come to believe that we failed because we are a failure, right and it's useful not to put yourself in a position where you're probably doomed to failure because you didn't really care about the goal first all right, so this is so I'm a big believer in asking the question am I willing to commit to this and to be willing to say, you know what? No, I'm not I would rather see people honestly say, you know what? I'm not willing to commit to this then to say, oh, yeah, I'm willing to commit, you know, where they got the fingers cross behind the back, you know, because because that just put yourself in a situation where you're very likely to fail, and then you may just come to think, you know what? I'm just I'm just not the kind of person who can succeed and so for part of that question, are you sure? It's the right goal? Um, should you be thinking about and by doing this because I think I should versus I want teo, so yeah, that's great, I think there are there are two, two elements to that one. Is that is this something I'm willing to commit to, um either because I want to or because I need to, right? You know, the something being a should isn't necessarily a problem if it's a really important should. So there are some things that area should because a parent or a significant other or whatever has told you, you need to do this that's a really hard one, right? If you're not committed to something that your romantic partner is committed to you doing that's just a source of argument waiting to happen, right? But but then there are times, you know, I mean, I think if you're dealing for example, with medical issues, you may be pushed into a situation which there's something that needs to be done in part because you need to do it it's a should but it's it may become something that you also want to do, but but but the but the impetus is is coming from the outside and not puritan and initially at least maybe not purely internally, so I'm not sure it's tragic if something has an external piece to it, as long as you're willing to commit to it anyhow, um, but you really you know, but but but but I think the big thing is you gotta really you gotta really be willing to commit to it, whatever the sources, I mean, there are lots of things I'd like to do that I've never done because I'm just not willing to commit to do it right and and so you know, at the end of the day, the question is, am I willing to commit because making that commitment is going to require all of these different tradeoffs you know I'm gonna have to free up resource is to do things I'm gonna have to give up a certain number of things that I used to like to do you know I may have to impose on the people around me in my life I really I really willing to do that you know if I am well you know then go for cool excellent thank you. Excellent. Oh and we're back with the um where there was there anything upon on the in any of our people at home with a goal that they wanted to share? You know, we don't have any goals here we do have some people who were talking a little bit more about this one came up actually people were wondering if you would clarify a bit more with your ice cream example people really like that in the chat room now this's lala and they say could you cover the exact set of actions that you took to stop eating ice cream even when you were really craving the ice cream? Now when you say that you took the ice cream out of the house how did you not reach for something else? Yeah ok right so I'm gonna come back to some of this a little bit more and we talk about the environment but let's let's not lose the thread of the ice cream because you know I did I have broken my my love affair with ben and jerry's ice cream and I did it in a couple of ways one was through the remarkable non scientific discovery that it is impossible to eat an ice cream that isn't in your freezer right? And so now that that's solved part of the problem in that is long as the ice cream isn't in the freezer you can't eat it now it does mean not walking past the ice cream at the store anymore because it does call out to you right? And so um and and and and I'm gonna talk tomorrow a little bit about the value of things like shopping lists right um because it turns out that things like that can be remarkably good tools but yeah, you've got to avoid the ice cream aisle that's that's one part um the other part though is yeah it's it's easy to begin to make tradeoffs um and that's why you don't want to live purely in the negative right? So if you're constantly riding the brakes and so you define your goal is I'm not going to eat snacks anymore then you're you're sunk because because if the ben and jerry's isn't available than then the chips will be available or you know the pretzels after that or the or the popcorn or the you know whatever I mean it's there's an endless list of snacks that one could be eating um at that point I think it's really important to then switch to a more positive mode of change and so for me part of the question was when did I eat ice cream right? And this is gonna you know, we're gonna we're gonna talk a little bit more about this sort of thing in the next unit but I'll say a little bit now because I think it's it's relevant so so if we give we go back to the habit diary right? When did I eat ice cream? It was almost exclusively on er about ten o'clock at night while watching television, right? That was, you know, it's just I don't know what itwas there was something about the couch and tv watching and ben and jerry's that were just seem made for each other part of what I did was actually take up the saxophone um and uh and so it turns out it's also really difficult to eat ice cream when you have a saxophone in your mouth. Um and not only that if you try and like, dual task those you end up blowing ice cream through the saxophone, which isn't good for the holidays and good for your tone, so uh so so really I actually made a bigger change, right? Which is to say that I actually changed up the context in which I used to eat ice cream? Um, not everyone is willing to to go quite that far, and so if you're not willing to go quite that far, let's take another lesson from habits. So you don't you can't you can't replace something with nothing. You have to replace something with something else. So again, find the situation in which you used to eat ice cream. Okay, whatever it wass let's, let's imagine it is somebody else who was like me and sat and ate ice cream while watching tv. What could you do at the same time? You know, jigsaw puzzles, so tv watching for most of us is something where multi tasking is allowed because, honestly, if you're watching something like grey's anatomy, you know that somebody the hospital's going to be sleeping with somebody else at the hospital if you don't remember which person it is, it's probably not critical. Okay, so so you can multi task while you're doing that. So it's also really sticky and messy to eat ice cream while you're doing a puzzle, so do a puzzle or crush a or you know something? I mean, do do something else with your hands while you're watching tv and it's it's it's less annoying than eating a lot of ice cream, and it replaces um, the behavior and so and so that's a way of addressing the same issue without necessarily changing up the entire context. I mean, I would recommend just taken a musical instrument, but that's just me. Thank you. Cool. All right. Now, as as a way of pointing forward to something that we're going to talk about a little bit more tomorrow, um, one of the things that we need to do to help us avoid riding the brakes is to begin to think about how do we structure our world to protect ourselves from ourselves and one of the places in which we have the most trouble. Um, uh, regulating our own behavior is when we have to deal with the trade off between the short term and long term. So the human mind is really deeply focused on doing what feels good in the short term, and I'm gonna come back to that. But but the thing is that because we like to do what's good for us in the short term relative to what's good for us in the long term, it is really useful. To find strategies to make it really hard to do what's good for us in the long term and one of the ways that we do that is that we create a variety of mental structures, some of which we already have that is we've already created and I'll give you an example of this. So imagine that you go to the movies to see a show, okay? And you get to the front of the line and then you're you look in your wallet. You realize you lost ten dollars, do you still go to the movie? You know, and chances are you're like, uh, yeah, why do you why do you even ask so, let's, try another version of this. Imagine you go to the movies to see a show and the ticket cost ten dollars. Now you're by the theater earlier in the day. So you go, you go to the front of the theater, you go to the line and you buy a ticket. Okay. Now, later in the evening, when you get to the theater, you look in your pocket and you realize you lost the ticket. Do you buy another one? Okay, and now I think the answer is a little bit more complicated and it's usually something like, yeah, but I feel really bad about it and it better be a good movie, because now it's costing me twenty dollars now, why is that? Why do you get that sense? I mean, an economist would say you are in an identical situation. Either way, you're overall wealth has declined by twenty dollars, okay? And you're going to see a movie, okay, but psychologically it feels very different because psychologically, in the first case, I paid ten dollars for the movie and there's like a generic ten dollars that was unattached to any of my goals. That's gone, okay, whereas in the second case it feels like I have applied twenty dollars towards the movie. Now why? Why would we be designed? To keep track of the resource is that we've spent on particular activities? The reason is because it's a great strategy for helping you to regulate your behavior if you keep track of the amount and think about resource is generally it's, not just money, it's money, time, effort, all of these kinds of things. If I keep track of the amount of money, time and effort that I have applied towards particular goals that I have, it makes it easier for me to decide at some point, you know what, I've had enough. So if I had bought a ticket and lost it and bought another ticket and lost it and then I bought it you know and and then I bought a third ticket I lost that at some point I might be like, you know what? I'm just I'm just not I'm done I'm done the world doesn't want me to see this movie, right? So so we are we're keeping track of of these kinds of expenditure is related to our goals and this is a way of helping us to to make decisions about when we want to continue pursuing some activity and when we want to give up and and this raises this issue of the short term versus long term so it turns out that, um that we are horrible at at maintaining this trade off between the short term and long term we we strongly desire to do the things that feel good for us in the short term over the things that feel good in the long term um and it's it's interesting I once was giving a talk like this and somebody said to me, isn't that just a reflection that of kids these days? You know, it's it was this is ah version of what I call the world is going to hell in a handbasket question and and and and I said, look um let's go to our cultural top ten list so the judeo christian culture the top ten list will be our ten command mints and if you exercise a couple of the commandments that have to do with follow this religion rather than that one almost all the rest of them have to do with the trade off between short term and long term and in particular resolving that trade off in favor of the long term right that really pretty things somebody else owns don't steal it that really that really annoying person who's really getting on your nerves don't kill him ok that very attractive person married to somebody else leave him or her alone okay right now the thing to remember two things to remember about three things to remember about the ten commandments first they're all about this trade off between short term and long term we want you to resolve it in favor the long term second of all they are in the ten commandments because they're really really hard not because they're easy the ten commandments don't say breathe regularly make sure to eat three meals a day right? It's picking the really hard stuff and the third thing to say is they didn't work I mean really the ten commandments didn't work because presumably from a religious standpoint the deity came down and said don't do these things and people still do them okay so this stuff is very, very hard for us to deal with it matters because if you look at your life right now, remember, we started this whole unit right after lunch, talking about the fact that if you were to analyze your day and look at the activities that you were performing and you took that transcript and you went through everything that you had to do during the day, you would discover that an awful lot of the stuff that you're doing doesn't really seem to get you towards the big picture goals that you want to achieve. What that means is on awful lot of your day is being driven by the things that feel good to do in the short term, rather than the things that are going to be good for you in the long term. This is fundamentally one of the biggest problems that each of us has to solve in making ourselves more productive. And if we look at the modern world and in particular the mahdi aaron workplace, you can see all of the places where it is biased in favor of doing things in the short term, the constant email access, right, text messages, instant messaging, which is that, like my least favorite thing in the world is instant messaging. You know probably my least favorite thing in the world it's it's way up there I hate it but it's not it's not like I take that back I can think of some other things I hate more than um you know, on the phone people who feel like it's their right to pop their head in your office at a moment's notice all of these things are things that drive you to do something in the short term rather than protecting time for you to do things in the longer term and what that means is that if you have a big picture goal that you want to achieve something really important it is up to you to create the time in your schedule to make sure that you make consistent progress towards the big picture goals that you want to achieve because otherwise all of the short term draws on your time will win out and you will have day after day after day that are extraordinarily busy but you don't really feel like you've accomplished anything as a result of all that time that you put in that to me is the fundamental problem of behavior change okay and that's why we're here and all of what we've done so far particularly talking about habits and talking about the ghost system and the stop system has been designed to get us to this point to recognize what the problem is so that in the next unit we can actually formulate the plan and formulate the right kind of plan to get mohr of the activities into our day that will help us to achieve the big picture goals that we want to achieve. It all leads to this moment I love how this all comes together this is so cool yes, so I think I'm working on everything and I'm just trying to connect it all together so the mental structures that you're talking about in the last slide, basically, that structure is we have the long term goal sort of overarching that we know that we're trying to get towards and then we have those short term goals that are really the most effective way to get us to that long term that's, right? So the structure is the long term hand in hand with the short term that's, right? Yes. And then then earlier with, like, the ten dollar example um, when you were talking about mental budgets for resource is so I totally understand the example of the ten dollars, um I get that, then how? What are those mental budgets for resource is when we're talking about, like, short term long term, right? Right. So one of the reasons why it's valuable and it's a great question, so thanks the one of the reasons why it's valuable toe have these kinds of accounts is if you begin to if you continue this process of keeping track of how you're spending your time, your money and your energy it gives you an opportunity to say, you know what? Enough I've spent too much time on these short term thing, right? So if you actually managed to accumulate mentally the amount of time you spent looking at facebook right or thie amount of money that you spent on, you know, on things that were good for you in the short term if you keep track of those resource is it gives you a way of popping up in going you know what? I I need to do more to protect these longer term goals I don't want to be spending these resource is on something that doesn't benefit me in the long run. So these air snoozer ways of of trying to help yourself tio to recognize when it's time to shift yourself into another mode great, thank you. So now to summarize, um okay, well, so far what we've been talking about is that we have these abstract goals that we'd like to achieve and these are the things that if they're really important to us, they're the things that were really going to be willing to commit to, but now we have a problem, which is the ghost system, right? That ghost system wants to engage specific actions right and and once that ghost system engages those specific actions man all hands on deck we're going to do whatever we need to to achieve those and in the event that we do a good job of aligning the specific goals with the abstract ones all is well because then by habit we're doing the right thing but what happens when we're in the situation in which we are trying to change our behaviour it's because there's a misalignment our ghost system is engaging actions that are not getting us towards the long term goals that we want to achieve and now we need to re program that go system to create new habits now before we can create those new habits we're going to need an agenda to do it right and that's why we're going to talk about in the next unit is what does that agenda look like right and the worst case scenario forces that were riding the brakes all the time that would be disastrous in the last the other the last thing that we talked about was this idea that that you know when it comes to activating or engaging our goals there is such a thing is too much right if I'm not at all aroused towards my goal nothing happens and if I'm way to arouse too much happens I'm all over the place and I panicked and so ultimately we want to live our lives in that sweet spot we want to find a way, not just of aligning our short term goals with our long term goals. But doing it in a way that we get that really nice medium level of arousal in there. That allows us to function in an effective way, day after day, doing the things that we want to do. And if we do that, then we win.