Book Cover ofIt is easy to go to the gym once. Going there consistently is hard. But unless you do something consistently, real change doesn’t happen.

How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Katy Milkman, a Professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, provides you with evidence-based practical tips to make long-lasting changes in your life.

Use these simple hacks I learned from the book to make the change you want.

🏃‍♀️ 1. Look for a Fresh Start.

🏷️ 2. Label Yourself as the Person You Want to Be.

😊 3. Look for Fun.

🍦4. Prepare Strategies to Overcome Temptations in Advance.

🛏️ 5. Make Cue-Based Plans.

💰6. Take Advantage of Your Laziness.

📈7. Incorporate Some Flexibility: the Process of Change is Not All-or-Nothing.

⭐ 8. Track Your Progress.

🤔 9. Become a Mentor or Coach.

📝10. Become a Deliberate Copy-and-Paster.

 

🏃‍♀️ 1. Look for a Fresh Start.

A change doesn’t happen automatically. You need to decide you are going to make a change.

 

Many people use the new year to mark a fresh start. You make a new year’s resolution to get healthy and join a gym at the beginning of the year. In January, most gyms are very crowded.

 

By February, however, many people have already given up their new year’s resolutions and the gyms empty out. You might think, “Oh well, it didn’t work this year. Maybe I will try next year.”

 

Milkman says that you don’t need to wait till next year. You can give yourself a blank slate any time of the year. You can use your birthday, any holiday, a new month, or even a new week.

 

These days, many people are switching jobs. Start a new habit when you start a new job or move to a new location.

 

Use any of these occasions to press your “reset” button.

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🏷️ 2. Label Yourself as the Person You Want to Be.

If you want to become an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, or writer, say you are an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, or writer. Even if you don’t think you are quite there yet, by saying that repeatedly, you start to think and believe you actually are.

 

After all, Saying is Believing.

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😊 3. Look for Fun.

We all have Present Bias. We value the things we can get right now more highly than the things we can get in the future. We love instant gratification.

 

You know exercise is good for you, but you don’t see its result right away. That makes it challenging to work out regularly.

 

Milkman says that you can overcome Present Bias by looking for “fun“ in the things you think you want to do, but can’t quite motivate yourself to do.

 

Some strategies include temptation bundling and gamification.

 

Temptation bundling means that you attach a fun element to the things you think are good for you, but can’t quite motivate yourself to do.

 

For example, you allow yourself to watch YouTube videos when you are on a treadmill. You can listen to books or podcasts while you go for a walk. That way, you can still watch YouTube videos or listen to books or podcasts, but you can get some exercise at the same time.

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🍦4. Prepare Strategies to Overcome Temptations in Advance.

Let’s face it. Most of us don’t have strong and long-lasting willpower. Willpower isn’t your dependable friend after all.

 

You need to come to terms with the fact that you can’t always overcome various temptations. The best thing to do is to prepare strategies in advance to avoid the temptations.

 

As you can see from Homer’s Odyssey, even Ulysses (Odysseus) knew how challenging it would be to overcome the temptation of the Sirens’ song. What did he do? To avoid being lured by it and wrecking his ship, Ulyssses ordered his crew to tie him to the mast. He ordered the whole crew to block their ears with wax so that they would not hear the Sirens’ song.

 

You can use your self-imposed commitments including soft commitment devices (such as pledges) or hard commitment devices (such as cash). Stickk.com is one of the self-imposed commitment examples.

 

When you use your self-imposed commitments, take a bite-size approach. Making smaller and more frequent commitments is more effective than aiming for a big change all at once.

 

Give yourself rewards regularly. Remember, willpower doesn’t last long. Don’t count on it!

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🛏️ 5. Make Cue-Based Plans.

To make a long-lasting change, you need to make the new behavior a habit. The key to habit formation is REPETITION!

 

Forgetting to perform the new behavior is one of the biggest obstacles to making a long-lasting change.

 

Cue-based planning is a great remedy. Use your existing habit as a trigger for a new behavior.

 

Make a mental map by filling the gaps in this sentence:

“When…(cue)….. happens, I’ll do (action)………”

 

For example, if you always make your bed, you can say, “When I make my bed, I will do my shoulder exercises on the edge of the bed.”

 

If you want to take action in the future, make a detailed and specific plan in advance including how, when, and where you will take the action. Having a detailed action plan will increase the likelihood that you actually execute the behavior you desire.

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💰6. Take Advantage of Your Laziness.

We are generally lazy. Most of us take the path of least resistance. Take advantage of this tendency by setting helpful default settings right from the beginning.

 

For example, you can set up an automatic payment so that 10% of your monthly salary goes to your retirement account instead of planning to save the leftover money at the end of each month. That way, you can put good behavior on autopilot.

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📈7. Incorporate Some Flexibility: the Process of Change is Not All-or-Nothing.

Incorporate some flexibility when you’re making a change to your behavior. Flexibility and a growth mindset will help you to avoid giving up when you encounter inevitable setbacks.

 

Even if you want to start doing something every day, give yourself a few flexibility tokens weekly. That way, you can avoid giving up the new behavior altogether after you miss it one day.

 

Things happen in life and things don’t always go as planned. This flexible mindset helps you to stick with the change you want to make in the long run.

 

You missed one day? Don’t dwell on it. Just bounce back and get back on it! 🚴

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8. Track Your Progress.

Track your progress when you build a new habit. Tracking progress will help you avoid forgetting the action you want to take, give you a reward, and make you accountable.

 

At the beginning of each month, I make a spreadsheet with things I want to do every day. At the end of the day, I check off the things I did that day.

 

You might be surprised at the feeling of satisfaction you get when you see a lot of gold stars on a calendar! A feeling of progress is a good feeling not only for children but also for adults.

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🤔 9. Become a Mentor or Coach.

Self-doubt doesn’t help you when you try to set and achieve a goal. One thing you can do to boost self-confidence is to become a mentor or coach to somebody who wants to achieve the same goal.

 

You might think, “I am the one who needs a coach!” That’s okay. Becoming a mentor or coach will boost your self-confidence and make you think about various ways that your mentee can make progress based on your current situation.

 

Then, you can apply the same strategies to your own life as well.

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📝10. Become a Deliberate Copy-and-Paster.

Find people who have managed to achieve the goal you want to achieve. Observe them, find their strategies, and copy and paste them deliberately. Some strategies might not work for you. That’s okay. Don’t get fixated. Find another strategy that works for you!

 

Remember NOT to compare yourself with them and be discouraged. You are just stealing their strategies.

 

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We all want to make changes to make our lives better. Milkman says that to make a change that stays with you, tailored approaches are much more effective than one-size-fits-all strategies. Life is an experiment after all. There isn’t a fixed answer. See what works for you to make positive and meaningful changes and live a life you deserve.

 

Do This Now:

Pick one change you want to make in life. Identify a few strategies you want to experiment with and try them.

 

By incorporating these tips from Katy Milkman’s book, you can increase the likelihood of making lasting changes in your life.

 

Remember that change is a process, and with the right mindset and tools, you can achieve the goals you set for yourself. Keep experimenting and learning from your experiences, and you’ll be on your way to a better, happier, and more fulfilling life.

 

 

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