How, When & Where: A Brain-Based Shift Strategy

Let’s assume you have a New Year’s Resolution you’re really excited about. You’re clear on what you want to change, and you eagerly want the anticipated results. You may have even made a commitment to yourself, or someone else for accountability, and you’re sure this is the year you’ll keep your resolution.

So, will you? Well, statistically speaking, no.

The good news is that each of us is more than a statistic– whatever the odds are, you have the ability to overcome them when we understand what keeps us locked in the status quo.

Unlock the Status Quo

Neuroscience is helping us unlock this mystery. Scientist have developed knowledge of what they call the Habit Loop. This Habit Loop helps us understand how our brain creates default cycles that help us perform tasks with less and less effort. The trick to unlocking the status quo is to feed new information into the status quo cycles.

One of the most effective ways to infiltrate your status quo cycles is to create an Implementation Intention Statement (“IIS”). The essence of an IIS is to go beyond setting the intention into the specifics of creating action- outlining the how, when & where, and then using cues and responses (part of the Habit Loop) that you already have in place to create new action.

For example, let’s say your New Year’s Resolution is to meditate. And let’s say your morning routine normally consists of this: I get up, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, make coffee, take a shower and then pack up for the day. Your intention statement might look like this: When I turn the coffee maker on, then I will go to the living room and sit and meditate for 5 minutes.

This IIS does a couple of things that increases your odds of actually meditating every day. First, it uses one of your already established habits (turning on the coffee maker) to trigger your new action. Second, it defines how, when and where it will happen.

An IIS is also useful when the resolution is not already action-oriented (like meditating). For example, let’s say your New Year’s Resolution is to do more self-care. First, decide what more means. Does that mean once a day, twice a week, or once a month? Next, decide what self-care means. You may identify 5 activities that mean self-care to you: going to yoga, taking a bath, meditating/deep breathing, reading a book, and eating healthy foods. To find your IIS you can then fill in a “when… then” statement. Examples may include: When I get home from work and set down my things, then I will take 5 minutes for self care; when I park at the grocery store, then I will sit in the car and make a list of healthy foods to buy; when I hit send on an email, then I will close my eyes and take 3 deeps breaths.

Create Your Own IIS

Ironically, one of the hardest things about creating an IIS is to actually create it. So here’s a handy-dandy, quick, fill in the blank form to use in creating your own IIS. Remember you may need several for non-action-oriented resolutions:

My New Year’s Resolution is:


How I Will Accomplish My Resolution:


When I Will Accomplish My Resolution:


Where I will Accomplish My Resolution:



When ________________________________________________________________ ,

Then _________________________________________________________________ .

And if all else fails, you can always create an IIS to create an IIS!

Want to know how this (and other brain-based techniques) can help you at work?
Contact us for a free consultation.

Posted on: December 20th, 2014 No Comments

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