I woke up today feeling motivated. Motivated and hopeful that I am capable of accomplishing the things I want to accomplish. Motivated in the power of belief. The things I am studying right now in school are social psychology theories and interventions. The one I’m particularly interested in at the moment and am applying in my own life as a guinea pig is called Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions (MCII). It feels a bit like doing vision boards for the MC part, where you envision a wish or goal and what it would look like to reach that goal, how you would feel. Then you list an obstacle you think is keeping you from that goal or that may occur at some point. The implementation intention piece is all about forming if/then statements. If this obstacle or situation occurs, then I will do this. It is envisioning the obstacle and thinking through it in advance if it occurs how you will overcome it. I’ve been using an app on my phone which is free that allows you to apply this formula, it is called WOOP. I’ve currently only been applying it toward my goals of weight loss.
I’ll provide you with one example of one that I’ve created, my wish is to be in a healthy weight range, accomplishing this would mean I would feel good in my skin and have more energy. One obstacle I will most likely face is rationalizing eating too much or stuff I shouldn’t eat. The if/then is, “If I rationalize about eating too much or things I shouldn’t eat, then I will write down everything I eat every day even if it is over my daily points.” The points part is in reference to Weight Watchers which is a plan that I follow. Perhaps not the best example, but for me, awareness of weight loss is everything and most weight loss research shows journaling your food, especially on days when you eat poorly leads to better success. I have about 4 others for weight loss that I’ve created, some are more short-term goals, like losing 5 lbs.
The more recent one that I created, as of yesterday, is to use my row machine every day for 5 minutes. I swim a lot during the week too, so this isn’t my only form of exercise but I bought this machine and it uses different muscles from swimming and I want to use it. So far for the last 6 months, it has just been sitting in my spare bedroom. The obstacle I had written down is time and desire, so the compromise of 5 minutes a day seems doable. The book Atomic Habits talks a lot about that, about aligning goals with your identity, which he got based on research. There is research that talks about how we weigh our decisions when faced with multiple choices and we choose the one we deem has either greater value or more of an immediate reward. The struggle is how to make the goal-oriented decisions have the most value and also how to make it something rewarding in the interim even if the ultimate reward isn’t until the long term (Berkman et. al., 2017).
How do I associate my weight loss goal with my identity to give it more value and what can I do to get a more immediate reward? Well for identity, the identity I am attempting to achieve is a fit and energetic person. So each day I need to refresh in my mind this identity and act as if basically. If this is who I am (or want to be), what behaviors would a fit and energetic person have/do? And when faced with a decision, I should ask myself, “is this something a fit and energetic person would do?” So today, I started my day by making my bed. I’ve talked about the significance of making your bed before, but I’ll be honest it had still been hit or miss on doing it every day. Today though I made my bed. Then the question is, how do I make it more immediately rewarding? For swimming, I’ve already figured that one out, it is lying out in the sun about 20 min before or after my swim. I absolutely love the sun and how it makes me feel, so this is enough of an award on most days to motivate me to want to swim. For a reward for rowing though it really had me scratching my head. I’ve landed on two things, and we’ll see if they work, 1. I’ll use the time while I row to get in additional time for my audiobooks. My audiobooks are the only time currently I can “read” for pleasure. Right now I am listening to the second Lord of The Rings book. 2, If I row for at least 5 minutes every day through the end of the year, then in January I’ll get my teeth whitened and get the vennners I’ve been wanting on my front two teeth. My front two teeth have always been uneven and I’ve wanted to get my teeth whitened ever since I quit smoking almost 5 years ago. It is expensive though. To do both I think the dentist quoted me like $1500. So that is a pretty big reward for just a mere 5 min of rowing every day for the next 6 months. Each day I row, I’ll put a star on the day on my wall calendar. Each month, I’ll also put aside $100 to $200 which will get me a majority of the total amount needed for the reward.
So these are my current plans. To get up every day and do my best to remind myself of the identity I want for myself as an active and energetic person and to act as if. We’ll see how things go and whether this social psychology theory approach (MCII) works for me. Wish me luck! Happy Wednesday all.
Berkman, E. T., Livingston, J. L., & Kahn, L. E. (2017). Finding the “Self” in self-regulation: The identity-value model. Psychological Inquiry, 28(2), 77-98. https://doi.org/10.1080/1047840X.2017.1323463\