The Power of Habits

 

The Power of Habits

 

Lesson Info

The Big Picture Goals

Right, and acknowledge the things that they are not gonna work for you, right? I mean, we talked about this, you know, we talked earlier about about, you know, so you get home from the farmer's market, you don't want to put that don't want to put the vegetables away, um, you know, maybe you need to schedule, you know, fifteen minutes of sitting time when you get back and say, all right, I'm going to acknowledge that I'm just not motivated to, you know, prepare vegetables the moment I stepped through the door, so I'm going, I'm going toe I have this magazine that I love to read, I'm going to read that magazine as a reward for going to the farmer's market, I'm going to read to articles, and then I'm gonna prepare veg or whatever it is, right? But you see, what I idea is I now have a specific plan about what I'm going to do that acknowledges that I'm just never going to convince myself that after duke, after walking up those hills and everything else that I'm ready to cut vegetables, so I...

'm gonna I'm gonna acknowledge that I'm gonna build it into my plan. Yeah topic we had a question a similar question coming from lynette now might be a good time to touch on it. Sure they say, is there a point at which you say it's not worth the time? How do you deal with the guilt of abandoning a goal when you realize that the goal is no longer a good fit for you? Right? Right. So, um, so and and I guess I guess this is it it's a great question. I guess the issue is why would you feel guilt about giving about giving up on a goal? Okay, there are there are two reasons for that to two possible reasons for that one, because because we have a general belief that we should never give up on anything you know, which is, which is kind of a son cost fallaci and I'm gonna come back to that in a second and then the other. The other reason we may feel guilt is because actually we probably shouldn't have given up on so let's let's separate these two things. Um, we should always I think we should always be willing to ask ourselves, why am I doing some of the things I'm doing? And the answer should never be on lee, because I've already put a lot of time into this that's what they would economist called out the sun cost policy if I wouldn't be willing to start doing something now, I shouldn't continue to do it just because I've spent a lot of time on it because the time and effort and energy and resource is that I've put into it in the past are gone I can't get them back there's no way of going back and so and so you know, people say, well, I don't want to have wasted that time but you know what? It's it's gone anyhow regardless it's gone so the question is, what is the best thing for you to do to move forward? So you should never feel guilty giving something up just because you had spent time on it in the past and it's hard and it's easy for me to say that but it's but actually there's some interesting research showing that in a variety of fields those people who are willing tto walkaway from projects even though they've spent a lot of time on them when they believe that those projects are no longer bearing any fruit do better there more successful, they make more money on on a variety of dimension so you have to be you have to be willing to cut out the guilt related to sun costs that's one piece now let's get to the other piece maybe you're feeling a little guilty because actually this goal is important to you it's just hard that one's a little bit harder to deal with right there, that's where? And we're gonna get to this again tomorrow, that's where it's really helpful toe have other people around right where you can have people that you trust, where you can sit down with them and say, help me to separate out the factors that are involved in this decision, because what we're going to see both tomorrow afternoon and and also on wednesday morning, is that actually it's really hard to make that judgment all by yourself and it's hard, in part because when you are not succeeding at something, you feel bad about it, it creates negative feelings and it's hard to know whether those negative feelings air are a result of the lack of success, or because the goal itself is something that isn't important to you, right, and so it's useful to have other people to help work through that with you and that's, another source of guilt. And so we will get to that in more detail, any other questions while we're at that juncture? No. Okay. Okay. All right. So, um, so I just I just want to, you know, so I want to really make it make it clear that, um, that what we're aiming at? Is essentially you know I don't want to give you this this terminology because I think it's really nice of peter drucker if you you read peter if you read about peter drucker it's almost obligatory to say management guru peter drucker said I think that's I think that's like actually his full name at this point but but he was he was really one of the first management people who recognized the human component of management and really tried to help people to deal with that and and he made it a really beautiful distinction between achievements and contributions that I just think it's a valuable thing for us to walk around with a cz we're trying to change behavior so an achievement is the sort of thing that ends up on your to do list it's this it's this stuff you actually do on a day to day basis and contributions of the stuff that you look back on with some degree of of pride and fondness and happiness over a six month period or a year long period or a five year period right? And um and they both matter right way want there to be way have to make achievements we have to actually cross things off it to do list on a daily basis in order to succeed at work on the one hand but on the other hand we can't feel it all fulfilled in our life whether it's at work or at home in any segment of our life if we if those achievements don't add up to a bigger right and it's that trade off that I think is important and one of the reasons that I think that this is important is because another question we need to ask is how often should we go through this exercise that we're going through today now we haven't really gone through the whole thing today, right? We're just we're really just starting, but but assuming that you really went through a full process of generating this kind of implementation intention and getting yourself ready to achieve some big picture kind of goal how often should you do this right? You don't want to do this daily I mean, I think that we all know people who are constantly in a state of preparation for their lives like you know it forty they've still never done anything but they thought a lot about it right? That's that's a problem and then we all know people who wake up in the age of forty and look up and go what have I done? I've done nothing I've done a lot but nothing you know and we don't want either of those, so to my mind the best way to address that is that in the time frame between six months and yearly, you need to go through this exercise okay, six months is the minimum amount of time a year is the maximum amount of time and what I recommend on the is at least on the yearly basis to pick a landmark date for yourself at which you are going to begin the process. Okay, now that landmark could be new year's, right? It could be your birthday. It could be the traditional start of the school year in september. You know, whatever you're whatever works for you psychologically, right? This is not a one size fits all thing, but every year get yourself ready to do this exercise again and to go through the whole process, which means analyzing your habits, right? Thinking through are the big picture things that I have committed myself to really the things I want to be committed to. And as you begin to develop habits that relate to those big picture items, is it time to take on a new challenge? See, I think about this remember we had those three states of self regulation, so there was riding the brakes, having an explicit agenda habit, presumably you're gonna move your way up through that list for each of the behaviours you're trying to change and this process of writing out this implementation, intention and setting that that's your explicit agenda and for a while you're gonna have to live with that reminding yourself this is what I have to do to achieve my goal now sometimes you may set a goal you can actually achieve, like landing a fulfilling job sometimes it's not that you achieved the goal but you've made enough progress on it that it is now part of the way you live your life okay, so let's return to the saxophone example for a second um at this point the sax is a part of my life. Every evening after dinner I have the urge to play the sax there are some nights when it doesn't work out but it is such a deep part of my habit that pretty much everyone in my life looks at their watch as soon as dinner's over and go. So you're going down now, right? You know so it's just it's known that this is part of my life and so it's not part of my agenda anymore it's just who I am and so if there's other stuff I want to do I khun I can add that I can work on other stuff now, right? So even though that's not over and at the goal isn't fulfilled, its so much a habit that I can work on something else okay and and that's one of the reasons you want to look at where you are on a yearly basis because you might say, you know what I have I have integrated enough of this into my life that I'm ready to teo work on something else teo or nothing right? You might wake up one day and go you know what I'm done I'm happy with who I am and where I am and I don't really want to change anything and that's okay too at least for that six month or year long period you know you don't always have to be improving right there it's it's it's actually okay, I think every once in a while to wake up thinking I'm good I'm good where I am um as you're going through like this year lier six months um do you have a guideline isto how many big picture goals or goals you should be working towards? Yeah um one uh this is really hard work and uh and I, uh really, um I would work on one thing at a time however, I'm going to qualify that by saying that sometimes you are working on what appear to be several things, but they're interrelated. Okay? So for example, you know, if if you're if you're changing the way you're eating, you might also want to change your exercise pattern at the same time because they are there's there's an inter relationship there in terms of overall physical fitness, right? But I wouldn't want to both do that and be trying to change what you do at work right? So so it's okay to kind of you know partial partial something off in a fairly large way but I wouldn't pick three different aspect or even two different wildly different aspects of your life and try to change all of them at the same time unless there is a complete disruption of the habits in your life okay, so I have seen people for example after following you know, a divorce or the death of a spouse or um major traumatic event of that kind that really utterly disrupts their life just go ahead and make wholesale changes and things because nothing's working anyhow at that moment everything has to change so it may as well change in a particular way but under the assumption that that you're living life mohr less in a business is usual way meaning there hasn't been a complete disruption to the foundation of your life if the research suggests that doing one big thing at a time is probably your best bet for success and as you drill that one big thing down let's say it at that moment you've identified five habits that you'd like to um five new habits that you'd like to integrate uh is there is there an amount of habits that you should be working on a time just one and then once you sort of get that down you move on to the next door um, you know, I think I think it really depends, I mean, that's one of those things where it depends, right? I think you don't want to overwhelm yourself with agenda items, so so I would say, think about it like this, the more habits you change, the mohr overwhelmed, you're going to feel because the more you end up having to think about all kinds of things that are not, uh, that that did you didn't have to think about before, okay? And if you also have to be productive and other phases of your life and things like that, the mohr of these habits that you have to change, the more utterly unsettled you're going to feel, but that doesn't mean work on only one habit across a full year period, you might also choose to stagger things a little bit under the assumption that most of the habits that you're creating are not in the worst case scenario for habit formation, meaning they're not like arithmetic there sort of, you know, probably worse than just, you know, making a left turn at that funky church, you know, but something that might take a month to two months to really develop, you know, what I would say is pick one for that month, work on that for a month. Then you know a month or two then and then integrate a second than integrate a third and have a plan to do that you know remind yourself that as you feel more comfortable doing one thing that you you've implemented ad you know now it's time to add in the next and make that part of your year long plan right which you could do right as you begin to think about what am I going to do this year it's not on ly a matter of saying you know, on mondays I'm going to do this you might say alright, I've started my plan in september so september october I'm going to start these things you know then in november I'm going I'm going to add this next piece and in january I'm gonna add this next piece right um and put that on a calendar right um you know, even if it's just a reminder formulate a plan to integrate this into my life um but but I would you know, but so I would say it a lot of it is really, um do what you feel you can handle right? This isn't supposed to be punitive, right? It is you know where we are you know the thing to remember about one of the reasons that I talked early on about creating goals that are processes by which you live your life is this is your life all right, your life doesn't start at the point that you achieve the goal your life is happening right now and and so you know, there are people I know who live their life in a constant state of getting ready to start their life as soon as they finish this thing right? I'll be ready to live once I get around this bend you know? I mean, I know people who looks like, you know, life will start as soon as I get into a car at the college I want to get to then you get into that college in life well, life will start when I graduate, you know, when I figure out what I want to do ah, life will start when I get out of graduate school. Well, life will start when I get the first job well, when I can just make partner or whatever you know and it's like at some point you look back and you're like, whoa life happened and I missed it, you know? We don't want that. Okay? So one of the reasons for kind of, you know, doing this in a manageable way is so that you have the recognition that that this is your life, right? And so you want to make sure that you're that you're living your life, you'd like to improve on things that you think can be done better but not at the cost of having of feeling like you're in the midst of your life and that's I think a real danger when it comes to to doing this kind of of work on changing behavior is you have to recognize that that this is a process and you are living your life during it it's your life doesn't start after it's finished it's it's started already way already we now join your life already in progress um so do we have any questions because we've been we've been a long way what I'm going to do is after we take a question or two then I want to make sure that I summarise where we went today and where we're going tomorrow just you because because holy cow we've we've gotten almost towards the end of the day would you say that maybe for some habits that we had integrated in the past like let's say that we used to like run forty five minutes every day but don't anymore? Would you say that? Because maybe those are a little easier to implement that we can include a few more of those and when they're not directly related to our main goal? So in other words, if you decide in addition to some other big picture thing that there is something you used to do and you realize how I got away from that, I need to add that back and because maybe would add holistically to your life yeah I look I think that's fine I mean what I'm giving her guidelines right um this is not a um nothing this process will work right? So follow the process but in terms of the numbers you know that's why I mean a lot of times you know I used this phrase it depends because there's a lot of individual difference in it and what I would say in many ways is well the proof is in the pudding right did to try it you know if you're going to make this other change and you want to integrate say running again into the process go for it the worst case scenario is it doesn't work and and you and you tried to start running again and it didn't happen so okay wait until that becomes a high priority and make it implementation intention for that six months or a year from now and focus on the other thing right couldn't hurt if you have the right orientation to failure then you learned something from the experience of trying it and not succeed right um and I think that that's you know, that sort of thing is fine, you know don't the you know so so be willing to experiment on yourself a little bit, right? I mean be willing to try stuff just to see if it works right it's some sometimes it won't but you know that's you know you learn something from that too I don't know I mean it's a you know it's it's uh it's okay, right not you know it's okay to try and then you know if you don't succeed well that's ok that's ok too I mean, you know, just keep doing this and you will succeed eventually I wonder I was just thinking about the sort of employee employer relationship when you do this annual review stuff which is you talked about for us it's the process in the side effect is the outcome but it's the opposite the work world it seems like that that we're focused on you have to come up with five goals for you and your job and me as your boss, I'm going to see in a year from now did you do that? But we're not incentive to change our behavior. We're just incented to meet the goal crimes on the company. Yeah, um right and I actually talk of companies about this idea right of what the annual review ought to look like and what the goals auto look like and should those goals be outcome goals, where should they be processed? Gold right should you be given incentives to learn? You know, so so part of my job this year should be I'm going to attend three seminars over the course of a year to learn something new, so I'm going to mentor to people in order to improve my leadership abilities, right? You know, so there are ways of defining your yearly goals in ways that are measurable, but they are also focused around processes that will have a long term benefit on your career, and then there are ways of defining your yearly goals that are really about outcomes, you know, I need to have x amount in sales at the end of the year, in which case you haven't necessarily given people incentives to improve their value to the organization over the long term, and, uh, and companies have to decide how they want to do that. Are there any model company's doing, you know, it's interesting, so actually, I do I do a lot of work with proctor and gamble, and they just redid their hr system, and so they borrowed from from the covey organization. Covey has that whole story about about, you know, having big rocks that you put into a container, and you gotta get the rocks in first, I don't love that story because I think it doesn't quite tell people how to fit those rocks into their lives, which is what this is about, but but the idea that you would try to identify the big important things to you at the front end of the hr process I think is a good idea so I was pleased to see that they went in that direction way actually had a question come in talking about incremental rewards now lala wants to know what about increments what if I want to get up earlier in the morning should I be doing this in increments getting up at nine then eight then seven thirty is that a good way of trying to achieve that goal um yeah so increments can be good or bad depending on what you're trying to achieve and in particular the degree to which those increments are are going to fundamentally change the nature of the the way that you achieve the goal so let me give you two examples one is getting up earlier and the other is running okay if you're going to start running do it in increments please because otherwise you will die yeah okay um you know if you've never run before first try and get a mile and then you know our half mile or whatever you know make sure you get a mile even if you don't run that whole mile you know what I mean and work your way up and you know, five years from now maybe you could run a marathon but don't you're not going to run a marathon you're gonna run the boston marathon in six months not gonna happen okay, um, so that's ah that's that's one that that there is a case where incremental is good in terms of getting up early in the morning, I recommend, you know, biting the bullet and doing it in one shot, and the reason for that is because you have to make a systematic you have to make a whole series of changes in your life in order to do that. If you've been getting up a ten in the morning means you've been going to bed around too. If you're going to get up at six a m, you've got to go to bed around ten it's really hard to back your way into that? Because each move of your bedtime forward requires additional changes to your life and your social relationships and all kinds of things. So if you're going to commit to a ten o'clock bedtime, just commit to a ten o'clock bedtime. You know, the first couple weeks will be a little bit weird because you're changing your sleeping habits. Your body would be like what? I don't know what to do here, but at least you won't be like getting yourself addicted to a tv show that starts at ten p m and then having to give that up right? So structure your life around the idea that you're going to bed at ten o'clock at night. You know, so there's a case where I think just doing it is better because you don't want to have to continue making weird little changes in order to get where you're going, so just to remind you, because because I can you can you believe it's like, five to four? I mean, really, this is how I love this, okay, so we started by talking about the role of three, the idea that thing's happened approximately in threes in your mental life, and in particular that you tend to remember approximately three things about your encounters with things in the world and that that means that you need to seize control of what those are, and you need to take that idea into account both as you're learning new things, as well as when you are influencing what other people learn from you. After that, we talked about habits, the idea that habits are created because they there is a consistent mapping between a behavior on the environment, and you've repeated that behavior in that environment. Okay, we when we when we create habits, they're wonderful tohave because they allow us to do things automatically every once in a while, have it goes bad in that situation, you change habits by replacing one habit with another, and not by simply stopping something that you were doing. After that, I introduced you to the ghost system in the stop system. The ghost system is that system deep in the brain that drives you to act, the stop system is that system that stops you from doing things. Um, we talked a little bit about how you create good plans after that we talked about this idea of creating implementation intentions when you want to succeed in a goal, at the end of the day, you have to take this abstract contribution and turn it into specific actions that you can take on a regular basis that appear on your calendar and the take into account the obstacles that are inevitably going to get in your way and allow yourself to fail. But learn from those failures, treat failure as a necessary part of behavior change on ly punished negligence so that's where we went today, and just to give you a sense of where we're going tomorrow. Now we're really going to continue with this whole process. So tomorrow morning we're going to start by thinking a lot about personality. This is personality is a reflection of how it is that each of us differs from each other psychologically. It is important to understand this in part for ourselves to understand why it is that sometimes there are things we find easy, that other people find difficult or that other people find easy, that we find difficult. Uh, we also want to know this because we work in a communal setting, we work with other people, we want to make sure that we understand why people don't always do what we expect them to do after that, we're going to turn our thoughts to this notion of influence, partly its influence of other people, partly its influence of ourselves. But in the process of changing our behavior, we need to understand how to use our environment to change our behavior and effective ways. How it is that we can make desirable behaviours easy to perform, an undesirable behaviors hard and how we can use the people in our environment to affect the way we act, how we can take on mentors who will help us to achieve our goals with the recognition that life and business are team sports and not individual sports, and that we need to take advantage of that. So that's really what we're going to do tomorrow, and then on day three, we're going to continue on and and talk a little bit about for feelings that we have, and how those relate to our emotions and how all of that relates to our ability to change behavior. And then we're going to focus on behaviours around thinking effectively in the world. And how we khun how we can take this notion of changing our behavior and use it to help us become better thinkers and and how to make the people around us. Uh, smarter people.

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.