Home' micenet eMag : micenet February 2016 Contents OPINION | MARTY WILSON
y now you are probably
powering through those inspiring
health goals you made for
yourself on New Year’s Eve, or
they’ve totally fallen by the wayside... So I
thought I’d offer one incredibly powerful
method to make sticking to them easier, or
get your health back on track.
There is a famous psychological
experiment called “The Christmas Essay” that
shows us how we can use the way our
brains work to make achieving our goals
literally twice as likely.
A psychologist called Peter Gollwitzer
asked his students as they were heading off
to their Christmas break to write a description
of how they spent their Christmas Day, and
mail it off to him by the 27th of December.
Half the students were given the request
and nothing else, the other half were asked
to nominate then and there exactly when and
where they would write the essay. For
example, “At 9am on Boxing Day I will write it
in my parents’ study.”
The results were astounding.
Double Your Chances
Thirty two per cent of the first group
completed the task on time. But in the
second group – who were asked to nominate
their “when and where” – 71 per cent wrote
the essay and mailed it in.
Writing down their goal made the students
TWICE AS LIKELY to achieve their goal.
These amazing results have been repeated
Marty Wilson tells readers how they can double their chances of sticking
to their 2016 health and wellbeing goals.
again and again. For example, one set of maths students were given practice problems over the
holidays and told to do as many as they wanted to. Non-planners averaged 100 problems each
while those who planned when and where averaged 250 questions. That’s two and HALF times
Planning when and where you’ll do your goal makes it twice as likely you’ll get the job done.
This is why setting a New Year’s goal “work out more” or “lose some weight” doesn’t work so
well, but “I will meet my friend Steve at 6am every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and we
will jog the four mile path along the beach and back” works like a charm.
Psychologists call this type of planning “implementation Intentions”. In more common
language we call it “if-then” planning.
Work With Your Brain, Not Against It
An amazing thing happens in your brain when you decide when and where you will act on your
goal. You put a link between the cue (the “if”) and the behavior that should follow (the “then.”)
So when your brain experiences the situation – the “if”, it naturally brings up the thing you told
it to do – the “then.”
So don’t say “I must talk to my daughter more”. Instead say “Every Monday and Wednesday
at Sophie’s bedtime I’ll sit on her bed and ask about her day for 15 minutes.” Then, when your
daughter says good night on those days your brain will naturally pipe up with “Time for that
Once the “if” happens, the “then” follows automatically. Without any conscious thought. You
get to create a habit.
How To Use This:
1 Get Specific With Your Goal
Leave no room for doubt about whether you can tick it off or not. So don’t say “I could lose a bit
of weight”, instead write down “I’m going to lose 30 pounds by the 30th of June.”
2 Set out precisely when and where you will take the steps needed to achieve this goal.
Be as specific as possible so your brain will detect the when and where and activate the
automatic desire to do the action. Don’t say “I need to get moving”, write down “I’m going to meet
my friend Davina at 6am every Tuesday and Thursday and we will go to pilates together.” m
Speaker Marty Wilson is a pharmacist, a former Australian Comic of the Year, and the Author of several
bestselling books on diabetes, cancer, depression and health & fitness. This content is from his new
keynote: Healthy People, Healthy Profits - How to Help Your People Achieve Work/Life Balance, and
Why It’s Great for Your Balance Sheet. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org .
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