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Episode 83: Plan to Fail

Video Highlights

- The value of a visual reminder.
- Simple advice to success in 2015.
- Your new mantra: "Never Miss Twice."

Hi everybody, Dr. Cobb back with you.

It is 2015. I know that you are probably considering some kind of habit change or lifestyle change or something for the year. What I want to do with you very, very quickly is share with you my number one secret for success in 2015 and that is plan to fail.

Plan to fail in 2015, and it probably, hopefully, doesn’t come across the wrong way. One of the things we talk a lot about in our sustenance and spirit class whenever we are coaching our coaches on working with clients, we talk a lot about the idea of Murphy proofing. Murphy proofing a change effort is one of the most critical things we can do because in essence what we find is that when people are trying to lose weight, they’re trying to change their relationship with their kids, they’re trying to exercise more, most of us have this fallacy in our head that says, “You know what? My life’s going to be a lot better in six months and when everything’s better I’ll be able to do this more easily.”

The truth is that that better time almost never happens. It never exists. We would like for people to start change efforts literally now but we want you to start them realistically from this perspective. Whenever you start a new habit process, maybe it’s flossing your teeth or getting to the gym, planning to fail literally is one of your most important tasks because real life happens. You wake up and the dog is sick, the kids are sick, your alarm didn’t go off for whatever reason and you’re late for work.

Now all of the sudden your well thought out exercise plan that was going to be five days a week at 6:30 in the morning, I’ll be at the gym at 6:45. I’ll get me work … Out the window. What usually happens is that that creates this inertia or a momentum shift where we begin to lose passion and energy for the change effort.

Really super simple strategy for this month. I’m going to link to an article by James Clear. James, as you know, is one of my favorite writers on habit. He takes the work of lots of other researchers around the world and writes some fantastic stuff around it. He actually has taken from what he calls the Seinfeld strategy. It’s basically an article called Never Miss Twice.

It’s a very, very simple tool and he learned it from reading something Jerry Seinfeld told a younger comic at one point. It’s a really simple plan to fail process.

In essence you take your calendar and you lay it out. You have your days of the month and in essence the goal here is, “Hey, I did my new habit today. I did my new habit the next day. I missed a day.” What’s the rule? Never miss twice.

What you want to do is actually build a visual reminder somewhere around these new habits that you’re trying to create and the main thing that you’re looking at is never having two empty block in a row. I know we live in the land, in the world now of high tech. We’ve got apps. We’ve got apps for everything and we have trackers for apps and we probably have apps for our apps now.

Everyone’s using smart phones and smart technology to try and change their life. I still sometimes default to good old pen and paper because one of the things I love about things like this is that they can be constantly in front of me.

In my office I have things up on my wall that are reminders because one of the things you’ve also heard me talk about in prior blogs is that most people don’t fail to make change efforts because they’re really that resistant. We just forget. The never miss twice process, especially if you do it in a very visual way, can be profoundly powerful because you actually have a visual reminder constantly saying, “Uh oh. Today I have to do it.”

That’s it. Simple, simple advice for 2015. Whatever your habit is, get a wall calendar, get a color that you like and  every time you enact that and you have it you get to put a big X up on the wall or on the calendar or wherever you’re tracking this. Your goal for the rest of this month, never miss twice.

What’ll happen from that is a lot of momentum because you’ll start to see, and there’s a lot of research supporting this, is missing one day doesn’t really derail change efforts and in fact missing a couple of days doesn’t really derail change efforts all that much but once we start hitting that second day, third day, fourth day, we are moving back into that bog that we’re trying to get ourself out of. We start to lose momentum. We start to lose energy and very often habit change efforts fail right about then.

There you have it. Plan to fail because real life happens but never miss twice. Those are the two things you want to remember.

Your next steps, get your calendar, write down the habits, start marking off your days. Let us know how this works for you. If you need more details please read the article by James. It’s fantastic. I think you’ll really enjoy it.

All right, guys. Have a fantastic week.

Talk to you soon.

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