You told yourself (again) that you were going to get to the gym this morning, or meditate, or maybe clean up your office, yet there you sit reading email and this article. Don’t blame it on laziness, distractions, or doubt. You just went into autopilot and did what you always do instead of making a decision to do the more important thing. The good news is that next time you make that promise, you’ll have a better chance of actually doing it. Here’s how:
Trigger the Action
Triggering is the ‘T’ of Pilot Fire’s SMART & SEXY goal checklist, and it’s a great way to avoid making the wrong decision if “the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy.”†
The key: Don’t make the decision; instead, trigger the action so you don’t have to make a decision.
Taking the example of getting to the gym first thing in the morning, you could trigger the action this way. Before you go to bed, when tomorrow’s decisions are easy, lay your gym clothes out next to your bed, along with your running shoes and car keys. In the morning when your feet hit the floor, all you need to do is slip into your gear and go.
To take triggering to the next level you might also:
- Put your alarm clock in the hallway with your gym clothes so you have to get up to turn it off.
- Unplug and put away your computer before you go to bed so it’s not so easy to check email.
- Tell your boss you’ll meet her at the gym first thing in the morning, and strategically place her photo next to the coffee grinder.
As the Heath Brothers put it in their book Switch, “Action triggers simply have to be specific and visible enough to interrupt [your] normal stream of consciousness.” Besides setting up the environment, another way to develop triggers is to devise a visual or audible cue that reminds you to do what you said you want to do. Triggers help build new habits.
Here are other triggers people have used:
“With my morning cup of coffee I call a friend. When I finish the cup, the call ends. That’s a crisp ingredient of a great day.”
“Because it’s hard to make my Day’s Plan in the morning, I put 3×5 cards next to my bed so I can do it before I go to sleep.”
“Before lunch I cleared my desk of everything but the notebook I needed to write the next chapter of my book in the afternoon.”
“Just saying the words ‘new customer’ triggers me to create the new account and set up the files so that everything is ready before the orders come in.”
Take the next 5 minutes and consider a goal you have this week that could use a trigger. It turns out that, the harder the goal, the more a trigger will help you succeed. Weird, huh? So ask:
What can I do to trigger
my hardest goal this week?
And let us know what that is…