- You could find 10 great ways to get in the best shape of your life, 10 great ways to increase your productivity, and 10 great ways to improve your relationships, and still fail at all of these if you don’t respect the one common ingredient for success: adherence. If you don’t adhere to whatever the plan is, you won’t succeed. In this episode I present different ways in which you can improve your adherence to the plan and get better results.
- We need to make sure that we have clear goals. It’s sort of like walking into the woods with a map – we need a clear direction. It’s the same with whatever it is that we’re trying to work on and improve. We need to know what we’re moving towards.
- In addition, we need to understand what the lead measures are. While we have a map, we still have to look at the path itself. In the case of losing weight for example, the goal is to lose weight, while the lead measures are eating right and exercise.
- We also need to respect deadlines. If we don’t, we damage our integrity, and we send a message to others that deadlines aren’t important. In relation to this, we have to decrease the likelihood of procrastination. Minimize impulse triggers, while maximizing the value of our end goal so we’re more likely to take action.
- We can also improve our adherence via self-talk. Instead of saying “I have to finish something”, we should reframe that as “I choose to start something.” It much more empowering, and when we choose to start, finishing eventually will just take care of itself. Also, we can make a public commitment. This makes you accountable, forcing you to adhere. You have no choice but to follow through.
- Next, you can find an accountability partner. This could be a friend or a colleague or somebody who you trust will hold you to account. Check in with them on a weekly basis, and tell them how are you progressing on the goal.
- Last but not least, you can put money on the line. This is an extreme one, but humans are not engineered for gain, they’re wired to prevent loss. You’ll most likely adhere to your goals, rather than just letting your money fly away.
You could find 10 great ways to get in the best shape of your life and still fail. You could find 10 great ways to increase your productivity and still fail. You could find 10 great ways to improve your relationships and still fail. And you probably will if you don’t respect the one common ingredient for success across all of those scenarios. It’s less about the great idea and it’s more about adherence. If you don’t adhere to whatever the plan is, you won’t succeed.
Hi, I’m Eric Partaker and I help CEOs, entrepreneurs, leaders, and individuals perform at their best, perform at a peak level and one of the key things that I do is train them to become better in adherence. If they’re just stuck to a plan, even if the plan was suboptimal, and if they just worked against it continuously, they would have better results.
So, in today’s video, I’m going to give you eight different ways in which you can improve your adherence to the plan and get better results, whether that’s on the health front, the workfront, or the home/relationship front. So, number one, we need to make sure that we have clear goals. Too often people start on a project, start on an effort, start on an initiative and they don’t know where they’re driving. It’s sort of like walking into the woods without a map. When do you need a map? Before you go into the woods. And it’s the same thing with whatever it is that we’re trying to work on and improve. We need clear goals. Often we might do this from a company point of view, but we don’t necessarily do it with our personal leadership, or we don’t necessarily do it at the same degree of precision or tenacity on the health front or on the home front. And there’s no reason not to be doing that. So having clear goals is the first thing, so that we know where we’re driving towards.
Number two. Once you have clear goals, we need to understand what the lead measures are. Let me explain. The goal, for example, is the product, the outcome that we want to achieve, but there will be things that we should do daily that lead to that outcome. And whatever those lead measures are, those should become the goal and that will improve your adherence. So for example, in the health front, if your goal was to lose a certain amount of weight, well, how do you do that on a daily basis? What’s the process to be focusing on and what are the lead measures? It could be not eating sugar, or it could be eating the correct portions, or it could be getting the adequate amount of exercise. And those are the things that you should be tracking daily. Keep your eyes up on occasion, looking at the mountain, but keep your eyes really down on the path, because that’s what’s going to lead you there.
Number three. We need to respect deadlines. I know this sounds like a simple one, but we need to treat deadlines as necessity. We must complete it by that date. If we don’t respect deadlines, we damage our integrity. And if others are involved in the process, they start to get the message that, “Hey, deadlines are something that we set, but we don’t need to kind of keep them. We can always move them if we need to.” And that’s not what you want. You don’t want that with yourself. You don’t want that with your team. So we need to make sure that we’re respecting deadlines or our adherence will just go completely out the window.
Number four. We need to decrease our likelihood to procrastinate. And how do we do that? Well, we can use a simple tool called the procrastination equation. And in that equation, there’s a couple of things that we want to maximize. We want to maximize the value of whatever it is that we’re pursuing, trying to achieve. And we do that by really taking a moment to understand, well, why would this be valuable? Why am I achieving that? Write that down. What benefits might I get from it? And then we also want to increase our expectancy, our ability to achieve what it is. And we do that by reflecting path, perhaps on past times where we’ve achieved something similar, it might not be exactly the same thing, but it might be similar at its level of difficulty or the level of challenge that we thought we were facing.
Or we might look to others who have achieved what we’re setting out to do already as a source of inspiration that whatever it is that we’re seeking can be done. There’s also things that we need to minimize when it comes to procrastination. We need to minimize our impulsivity or our likelihood of being distracted, in other words. And we can do that in several ways. One is by making sure we eliminate distractions. So if we’re working on something, something that will inhibit our adherence or get in the way of us adhering to whatever it is we’re working on, is anything that might distract us. So for example, if we’re trying to write a book and we have Slack open or notifications open or social media going off, or we can even see our phone, all of these things could distract us from the course. Similarly, another thing we need to minimize, to minimize procrastination is the delay time.
And what I simply mean by that is we need to taste success sooner rather than later. So if we’re working against a big goal, but the big goal is say publish a book in three years’ time. Well, that sounds really, really far away. So how about we break that down, for example, by getting the first draft of chapter one done in month one.
The number five way that we can improve our adherence is through self-talk. We have to catch ourselves when we notice that we’re saying things to ourselves, such as, “Oh, I have to go to the gym right now.” Or, “I have to work on this right now.” Or, “Now I have to spend time doing that.” All of that is negative language. Instead, we should reframe that as I choose to start, rather than I have to do or finish anything. I choose to start is so much more empowering. And when we choose to start, rather than I have to finish, when we choose to start, finishing eventually will just take care of itself if we just continually focus on starting and then when’s the next time I can start.
Number six. We can make a public commitment. I’ve done this recently with a virtual event where I went out, put a landing page together and said, “I’m holding this event on such and such a date.” People started to register and guess what? I had to adhere to the plan. I had to make sure that the content was developed. I had to make sure that the guest speakers were organized. I had to make sure that all the tech was working. I had to make sure that the email sequence and everything was written and it was all ready to go, because I had made that public commitment. I had no choice, but to adhere to the plan.
Number seven. You can bring an accountability partner into the mix. This could be a friend or a colleague or somebody who you trust will hold you to account. And what I would suggest to do there is just check in with them on a weekly basis. Tell them how are you progressing on the goal? What are the top few things you’re going to be working on to adhere to the plan in the week coming? And make sure you’re constantly giving them those progress updates.
And number eight, you can put some money on the line. Now, this might sound like a bit of an extreme one, but we as human beings are not really engineered for gain. We’re actually more engineered to prevent loss. It’s hard-coded in our DNA. What it means is that a person is more likely… Research-backed, proven… More likely to want to avoid, for example, losing $100 than they are to want to gain $100. Why is this? Well, think about it from a survival point of view, from an evolution point of view, right? If you had one group of people that was constantly just seeking to acquire and gain new things, but not necessarily protect things from loss, well, they might suddenly run out of food or they might take too many risks. But if you have another group of people that will venture to gain some things, but is more motivated to not lose things, they have an aversion, a stronger aversion to losing something. Then they will be better suited to surviving in the long run.
They’re going to be taking less risk and making sure that they protect key resources, food, water, for example, whatever it may be. So we [inaudible 00:08:14] aversion, the aversion to losing something is hard-coded within us. When we set a goal, when we want to adhere to a plan to achieve a goal that is all about gain. And while that sounds very exciting at that, actually it doesn’t fit well with our DNA. So the reason putting money on the line work so well and you could do this by the way, with your accountability partner, is that suddenly you’re going to lose something if you don’t try to gain or adhere to the plan on something. Now, if you really want to take this to the next level, make whatever your lead measure was for the goal. So let’s say you want to write a book and your lead measure is to write 120 minutes or two hours every day. So make your adherence to that as the thing that you’re going to bet money on with your accountability partner. And it has to be an amount of money that would sting if you lost.
And this comes out of Yale university, some researchers from Yale who went looking at this, when looking at groups of people that actually put money on the line, that they could lose something if they didn’t adhere to their plan, they were three times more likely to achieve their goals, i.e. They were three times more likely to adhere to whatever was required to get whatever it was that they wanted. So using that book writing example very quickly again. What you could be doing is agreeing to pay your accountability partners say, $100 for every week where three out of the five days that you’re supposed to be doing, where you don’t at least work, for example, three out of five days, hitting that two hour-mark on your writing or whatever would make sense for you.
So I hope you found that useful. Eight ways that you can become better at adherence, which was really the secret ingredient to achieving whatever it is that you want in life to getting to that next level.