It’s 5:00 AM and your alarm just sounded. What do you do?
What happens when last night’s motivation and determination that could have moved a mountain, now can only summon enough energy to push the snooze button each time the alarm sounds?
You know that your life would be much more purposeful and productive if you started the day working on you first…but that blanket. Hold on. Not just a blanket…but that glorious down comforter and those soft flannel sheets turn out to be worthy adversaries. These comforts become your kryptonite.
So you say to yourself (once again), “I’ll start tomorrow…”
How do you overcome the overwhelmingly powerful gravitational pull to sleep in? Rather -- how do you make choices to live in alignment with the best version of you?
For starters, stop relying on your own will power for success. Your success lies NOT in more motivation, but in a better plan.
James Clear in his book, Atomic Habits, writes, “the first law of behavior change is to make it obvious.” If you want to replace an old habit that is not serving you well, do it with a new habit that yields different results.
One strategy that Clear describes is developing what he calls Implementation Intentions. An Implementation Intention is a “plan you make beforehand about when and where to act.” It is simply a very specific step that you write down along with a time and a place.
Research has shown that we are much more likely to succeed in developing new habits when we have written down what we intend to do.
Why is this?
This is because when we write down our intentions, they become more real. Also, through writing our intentions, we become accountable to ourselves to complete them, which is the most powerful form of accountability.
So, let’s apply this concept to our 5 AM scenario and describe what an implementation intention look like in this situation.
It might be one of the following:
When the alarm rings I will count backwards from 5 to 1 (like a rocket getting ready to launch) and immediately sit up and put my feet on the floor.
Before bed (because success starts the night before), I will go to the kitchen and program my coffee maker to start brewing coffee so that it finishes brewing when I awake at 5.
I will wear my workout clothes to bed and place my tennis shoes on the floor beside the bed.
Your strategy needs to work for you.
In my next email, I will describe to you another powerful strategy called Habit Stacking that can be used in conjunction with this. But for now, what might be an Implementation Intention that would work well for you?