No matter how serious your intention is to write, you need a plan. And you need a plan that is automatic, clear-cut, and smooth.
You need a way to swiftly move into your work without the hesitation and resistance that can throw you off track.
You need a plan that works like the starting block works for an Olympian runner. You don’t want to slip and slide about in loose dirt. You want to move automatically into action at the given time.
One of the world’s leading authorities on goal attainment, psychologist Peter Gollwitzer, Ph.D., has devised an amazingly effective plan for implementing a person’s intention to take action toward a goal.
Gollwitzer’s “if-then” plan or “implementation intention” requires you to decide ahead of time the time, location, and action you will take and to put the plan into the simplest, yet most logical, of forms. Your plan would be something as simple as this: IF it is 2 pm, THEN I will go to the 3rd floor of the library with my computer to write for two hours.
Gollwitzer’s research shows that such planning produces “automatic action,” because you “delegate control” to the “situational cues.” The situation or the when and the where are your cues—the situation triggers your taking action. Without your consciously thinking about it, your brain starts to work on making sure you will be aware and ready at the right time to take action. Gollwitzer terms this “strategic automaticity” or “instant habits.”
Without an if-then plan, competing projects or goals or other distractions can derail you from starting or taking action on any given day.
The if-then plan can change the way you approach your work.
It’s an amazingly effective cue to trigger your writing.
I would love to hear how you have used the if-then plan to trigger your writing.
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com