The Power of ‘If-Then’

“Habit is the enormous fly-wheel of society, its most precious agent.”

William James

Habits can be a double edged sword of sorts, sometimes good, sometimes not so much. If there were a way to maximize our intention to change, to fulfill a long sought goal or throw away a bad habit, could there be a simple solution?

I believe there is and I hope we can all think ‘If-Then’.

A successful theory has emerged from the University of Konstanz in Germany, where Professor Peter Gollwitzer’s work focused on four phases of goal pursuit-

· Predecisional

· Preactional

· Actional

· Postactional

Where the hardest step is, between Preactional and Actional, exists the trigger that makes us more likely to meet the accomplishment. I like to call this “Loading the Rocket”!

Gollwitzer uses a term “environmental primes”, for example walking by the refrigerator and thinking ‘drink some water’; in some journals they call it ‘cue-response-reward’. I love the simplicity of ‘If-Then’ scenarios. Professor Gollwitzer then expanded the term to “Implementation Intentions”.

Load the Rocket!

Think focus point, think actionable step, think catalyst. By attaching an ‘If-Then’ scenario to everyday activities, the impact on achieving positive change is massive. It is a mental hook and an instant habit potential. When we set the launch pad to success, we are invariably fueling our own rocket to positive change.

Load the Rocket!

Professor Gollwitzer's work has proven that people who stated they would take a specific action at a certain time or in response to another cue were rewarded with triple the success. How exciting is that!

We’re not just going through the motions of behavior change. When we attach the ‘If-Then’ thought, we then set up our personal ‘primes’ or ‘triggers’. Who knows, maybe the impossible goal is possible after all!

Thinking this way can lead to-

· Removing doubt

· Building better habits

· Turning bad habits into good ones

· Making difficult goals more achievable

· Nearly effortless change