I was cleaning up the page of things you can do and noticed I don’t have anything in the counterintuitive area.
Two came to mind from the book I’ve got on the go The Plateau Effect
1 - Active listening with the intent to agree, rather than waiting for a chance to get your point across.
Most people want to pick apart other people’s arguments to discredit them, or maybe not even listen and just wait for their chance to speak.
Active listening with the intent to agree puts you in a much better position to come to a conclusion everyone agrees on. You can still pick apart their argument, but in this scenario you’re picking it apart to see what parts align with your thinking. You have to see where the common ground is. Then when you find something you don’t agree on you try to understand why the other person thinks that way. You could be right, they could be right, and sometimes you could both be right. It’s like the proverb about 3 blind people encountering an elephant for the first time and all describing it to each other while standing at different spots around it. They’re going to be describing wildly different things, but they are all correct.
From a persuasion point of view you are in a much better position to pursued when you start off on the same team as the other person, highlighting all of the things you agree on. Think about it, are you more likely to listen to the advice of something similar to you or to the advice of someone you associate with ‘the other team’.
2 - Don’t focus on specific goals, it can mess with your head.
In the Plateau Effect they gave examples of runners who were so focused on the goal of having a long streak of consecutive days running that they ran when injured, making their injuries worse, and ran at the sacrifice of maintaining relationships with friends and family. These people started out running to be healthy and then the goal of the streak took over and they did the opposite.
In the Willpower Instinct, she says having a goal gives your autopilot mind a specific target which it can use against your best interest. If you are doing well it can rationalize a break, and if you are doing poorly it can rationalize giving up. She suggest you’re better to monitor your level of commitment and hold it in higher regard than progress. If you feel the commitment wavering you can spend some time remembering why it’s important. If you realize it’s not important you can give up and pick a goal that is important, guilt free.
Many other people like Dilbert author Scott Adams advocates for systems rather than goals. The idea is you build your day around doing things that will get you closer to your goal. Such as write so many pages or save so many dollars. When you do this it’s not that big of a deal when you falter, your next day is already set up to get you back on track.
All of these are complementary, the first one says don’t focus on running everyday, but the last one suggests you should schedule running everyday if that is in line with your goal. The takeaway is that this is a balancing act, with meaning as the foundation.
Start by having a compelling reason to change something, then build systems into your life to set you up for success to set you on the path to your goal but keep it flexible. Monitor progress, change things as needed, try to avoid relying on things that feel like obligations, but more important than the numbers and data check in with yourself on how committed you are to this future state and why in order to make sure you haven’t let the goal take you off track.