We all have the potential to achieve great things.
But sometimes, it feels like achieving your goals is nearly an impossible task. There are days when self-doubt and inertia seem unbreakable, leaving you feeling defeated. Traditional time management techniques and productivity hacks don't always seem to work.
Here's the truth: the ultimate "productivity tip" is to gain leverage on yourself. You can use human psychology to your advantage and make progress towards your goals, even if you're having a terrible day.
In this article, we'll discuss how to gain leverage on yourself and finally accomplish your goals.
Inevitability Thinking: How To Leverage Yourself
To put yourself in an empowered position, you'll need to adopt a new way of thinking.
Inevitability thinking is the "next evolution of goal-setting and achievement," according to entrepreneur Eben Pagan.
It's a key piece to your productivity that involves "doing." Traditional goal-setting puts an emphasis on envisioning and planning, whereas inevitability thinking emphasizes taking action and execution.
It's about creating the conditions that make success inevitable. And you do this by establishing an environment that allows your ideal outcomes to happen on their own.
Inevitability thinking is like hurling your hat over the fence—now, you're forced to take action and jump over it.
The goal is to find ways of holding yourself accountable for taking action toward your desired outcomes.
For instance, let's say you wanted to start going to the gym every day. Inevitability thinking could involve finding an accountability partner who picks you up every day and takes you to the gym. Establishing these conditions will make it easier for you to follow through with your workout routine.
How can you create conditions in your life that make it more likely for you to achieve the outcomes you want?
The 4 Laws Of Behavior Change: Psychological Levers For Taking Consistent Action
What's the best way to gain leverage on yourself and make your desired outcomes inevitable? Developing habits.
Establishing habits makes it easier to take consistent action and, as a result, achieve your goals.
In James Clear's book Atomic Habits, he outlines four laws of behavior change that will help you gain leverage on yourself. These are psychological levers you can use to build better habits, upgrade your productivity, and take consistent action:
- Make it obvious.
- Make it attractive.
- Make it easy.
- Make it satisfying.
Let's discuss each one in more detail.
Law 1: Make It Obvious
The first law of behavior change is to "make it obvious."
This is the cue for your habit. It's the triggering event for your intended action.
If you make the cue more obvious and visible in the environment, you're increasing the likelihood that the action will occur.
For instance, if you wanted to start flossing your teeth every day, you could put floss in a visible spot or set a daily reminder on your phone.
You can also use what Clear calls "habit stacking." It's an effective strategy where you pair your new habit with an existing one. For instance, you could brush your teeth and then floss.
Law #2: Make It Attractive
The second law of behavior change is to "make it attractive."
If an action is perceived as unattractive, we’re less motivated to do it. Every perceived action has a payoff. And we experience this motivation on a neurochemical level.
Habits are dopamine-driven feedback loops. And understanding how this system works will give you the ability to motivate yourself. According to James Clear, here's the gist of it:
"When it comes to habits, the key takeaway is this: dopamine is released not only when you experience pleasure, but also when you anticipate it."
It's the anticipation of a reward that gets us to take action.
By making your desired behavior more enticing, you can gain leverage on yourself and begin forming a habit.
For instance, if you wanted to start running every day, you could listen to your favorite music or audiobook while doing it.
Or, you could pair your new habit with a more enjoyable activity. You could go for a run and then have a delicious smoothie afterward.
Law #3: Make It Easy
The third law of behavior change is to "make it easy."
As humans, we’re motivated to conserve energy. We gravitate towards options that require the least amount of effort and friction.
A common challenge when using inevitability thinking and habit formation is that, when you begin, you tend to get over-excited about taking action. You try to do too much too soon. And this can lead to burning out and giving up before a habit is established.
Clear's advice for this is to use the Two-Minute Rule: "When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do."
The underlying principle is more important than the specified two-minute time frame, so adapt it to whatever habit you're trying to develop. For instance, let's say you want to do six deep work sessions a day. If you're a beginner, then this is unrealistic. Begin with one or two deep work sessions instead.
Making your desired behavior easier allows you to gain leverage on yourself. You're more likely to do it, empowering you to take action that will pay off in the future.
Law #4: Make It Satisfying
The fourth law of behavior change is to "make it satisfying."
We’re wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. So when we're rewarded for our behavior, we're motivated to repeat it. And when we're punished for our behavior, we're motivated to avoid it.
While the second law of behavior change (make it attractive) involves using the anticipation of a reward to elicit action, the fourth law uses the fulfillment of the reward to ensure the action gets repeated.
We can use this in our favor. When you want to form a habit, you need to feel successful and satisfied after taking action (even if it's in a small way).
For instance, after a deep work session, take a break and do something you enjoy. Grab a drink. Go on a small walk. Text a friend.
Or give yourself immediate feedback after taking action. Put a tally on your calendar for the number of deep work sessions you do, every day.
By making your desired behavior more satisfying, you increase the chances of sticking with it in the long run.
The main takeaway is that if you want to change your behavior, you need to make it obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. This makes your desired outcomes inevitable.
And by using these psychological levers, you can gain leverage on yourself and finally accomplish your goals.
Do you want to learn more about how to increase your productivity and reach your goals? Check out our article: How To Identify A Bottleneck In Your Productivity And Stop Feeling Stuck.