Struggling to get motivated in winter? You need 'implementation intentions'
You have set the goal to improve your golf, or you have decided to get fit. You may even have decided it was time you reduced your food intake.
Great, the goal has been set so let’s see if it actually happens. You book that first lesson and come away from a great session determined to finally get down and practice your short game in the way you know you should.
You have a plan that you are going to go to the range twice a week and before you go out to play on a Saturday you will play a chipping game called Par 18 just to get you into the right frame of mind to play.
All set. Plan in place. Looks good and sounds even better.
Then you look back two months later and you have done almost none of the things you resolved to do.
Why is that? Why do we consistently not follow through on our plans? Why do we get stuck in the mire of mediocrity and this year ends up being a very close replica of last year’s performance? Sure, there were a few pleasing rounds here and there, but in the main more bad than good.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Well, it is the pattern most people tend to follow and more than likely what is at play here is the terrifying effect of unconscious triggers.
As much as we would like to believe we are completely in control of all we do with our conscious will, the scientific research would suggest we are far more in the thrall of our unconscious mind than we would ever like to believe.
We are primed by our environment. What we see is often what we do.
It is one of the reasons hotel rooms contain mini bars with tasty sweets, drinks and snacks that do us no good whatsoever and cost us a fortune into the bargain.
The smart hoteliers know in the main when we get into a hotel room we will be tired and a bit niggly after a long journey and the sight of the mini bar will trigger in us the ‘need’ for something sweet to eat or drink.
In the same way the hotel room triggers behaviour, your everyday environment and the people within it are constantly triggering you to behave in a certain way.
So you go to the range with a plan to practice in a certain way, a more efficient way. Yet you go to the same bay you always go to, the mat points at the same targets and low and behold after a couple of poor shots you find yourself doing a good impression of a machine gun firing ball after ball in the search for ‘the swing’ again.
You go to the golf club with the intention of playing the chipping game but you nip into the pro shop and you have a cup of coffee, a couple of pals come in and you talk about last night’s game. Five minutes turn into 20 and the chance to practice your all-important chipping has gone again.
You got triggered once more by your environment. Great goals, great ideas and then reality and the world take over.
What you need is implementation intentions.
Pioneered by the work of Peter Gollwitzer it is a way of overcoming unconscious triggers and getting the work done you know will be valuable to you.
The principle is simple. Instead of just saying I am going to practice my chipping you employ ‘When? Where? How?’ By asking these simple questions you massively increase the likelihood of getting the job done.
So in effect when you get to the golf club at 9.30am you will walk straight to the chipping green, take out just one ball from your bag and you will play Par 18 and record your score.
You write out this commitment so the environment ‘the golf club’ actually triggers the behaviour you want as opposed to you being triggered in a direction you don’t want to go.
I have seen quite the transformation with the players I work with when employing this principle.
You are taking charge of your future and working with your unconscious mind as opposed to your unconscious just running you with automatic reactions.