Turn Your Goals Into If-Then Statements to Address Obstacles

For any purpose, pitfalls are usually inevitable. You want to eat healthier food, but your coworker brings muffins. You want to save money, but your car needs work. To avoid failure, develop an “if-then” plan for your goal.

We’ve talked about this concept before when we talked about developing your willpower. To connect the impulsive part of your brain with the calm, methodical part, use the if-then operator to control your behavior. For example, you might say, “If I am angry, I will count to ten.” This is a simple example, but you get the idea.

Likewise, you can use if-then statements to keep your ambitious goals safe from any potential setbacks. As O Magazine editor Jihan Thompson put it:

“The ambitious plans are commendable (‘I’m going to lose 30 pounds this year!’), But they ignore the inevitable hurdles. If you want to have a chance to stick with your decisions, you need to develop “if-then” plans: if someone brings muffins, pizza, or candy to work, then I … ”

Researchers at the University of Utrecht have explored the intricacies of self-regulation, and researcher Denise de Ridder also offers an “if-then” method, explaining why it works :

If-then plans work well because the “if” part defines a specific situation: if people subsequently find themselves in such a situation, they will automatically be reminded of their good intentions.

The key is to make your “then” statement actionable, specific and, as Thompson suggests, positive. Simply saying, “If someone brings pizza, I won’t eat it” won’t do much good. But something like, “If someone brings pizza, I’ll treat myself to hummus and crackers” is much more effective. You can read more about the concept at the link below.

Create If-Then Plans To Stick To Your Goals | Sources of understanding


Leave a Reply