You Have the Power to Change Your Life

“We believe you have the power to change your life.”

Too many people are stuck believing they are too far gone or too broken or just unable to change.

We don’t believe that.

We sincerely believe that with guidance and support, anyone can drastically change the course of their life.

However, we do believe the responsibility to make that change rests entirely on the individual. We can provide the structure, the support, and the knowledge to help but we understand that, in order to become somebody new, each person must make the choice themselves. This is an incredible amount of power – and incredibly freeing. Recognizing that you are in command of your reactions, your words, and your actions – that you can choose the people you surround yourself with and that you are able to change the perspectives you hold – can empower you to be bold. It can empower you to take your life and make it your own.

Here’s how to make that belief work:

Simply saying, “I want to exercise regularly” doesn’t provide enough structure to actually do anything. Instead, saying “I want to join a gym” or “I want to work with a personal trainer” is much more likely to be effective because you were clear on the specific action you will take.

Next, we want to clearly establish when and where you’ll perform this action.

The effectiveness of this technique was brilliantly shown in a study done in Great Britain in 2001. In this study, 248 people were assigned to three different groups. The goal was to assess different strategies on building better exercise habits over two weeks.

Participants in the control group were simply asked to track when they exercised.

Participants in the second group were given materials on the benefits of exercise and were lectured about the benefits of exercise on heart health. They labeled this group the “motivation” group.

The participants in the third group received the same materials and lecture as the motivation group. After the first week, they were also tasked to do just one thing differently than the other two groups: write out when and where they would exercise. Here’s what they wrote: “During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME] in [PLACE].”

The results were impressive.

The control group and the motivation group had almost identical results, with between 35 and 38% participating in exercise over the week. The third group, however, soared to 91% participation in the second week. Not only that, but researchers also found that all of them exercised where they said they would, 97% of them stuck to the time they had set, and 88% stuck to the day they intended to exercise.

Control group on the left, motivation in the center, and the intention group on the right. The bars show how many participants reported exercising in the previous week. Time 1 refers to the week before the study, time 2 is after one week, and time 3 was after the second week. Group 3 set their intentions after time 2 and before time 3.

What this means: in order to be successful, you must define what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. According to this study, leaving it to chance means you are less than half as likely to do anything at all.

So, try it yourself: I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].

For example:

  • I will meditate for two minutes at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays in my bedroom.
  • I will read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People for twenty minutes at 8:30 p.m. at my dining room table.
  • I will go to class at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Nexus Fit Co.

Life doesn’t always work out so perfectly but that doesn’t mean you abandon your plan. In these cases, you set the intention around your circumstances. Think of it as an “If _______ then _______” equation.

  • If I haven’t called my mom back by 7:00 p.m., then I won’t turn on the TV until I do.
  • If my meeting runs over and I don’t have time for class this afternoon, then I’ll wake up early tomorrow and go to class at 6:00 a.m.

Avoid being transactional with this strategy. This can often be abused and turn into things like, “if I eat this donut, then I’ll run an extra mile tonight.” Just eat the dang donut and live your life! Use the IF, THEN strategy to make your life easier, not more complicated.

These methods work really well for anyone who struggles with motivation or discipline. Doing this, you’ll often find that it’s not motivation you lack, but structure.

How can you implement this strategy in your life?

Milne, Sarah & Orbell, Sheina & Sheeran, Paschal. (2002). Combining motivational and volitional interventions to promote exercise participation: Protection motivation theory and implementation intentions. British journal of health psychology. 7. 163-84. 10.1348/135910702169420.…

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