We don’t rise to the level of our challenges; we fall to the level of our preparation.
Over the years, our brains and bodies have evolved to seek the path of least friction—in other words, we take the easiest route whenever possible.
We skip a workout because it’s easier than getting out of bed before it’s light out. We scroll through instagram rather than tackling our long to do list. We stop by the fast food restaurant on the way home from work instead of cooking dinner.
We all are guilty of these things at one time or another, and every once in a while, it isn’t a big deal. When it becomes an issue is when we don’t have a plan to get back on track and get back to work towards our goals.
Anyone who’s been on a crash diet or committed to a new schedule for a week knows it’s pretty easy to make short-term changes to our behavior. It’s when we try for long-term, sustainable changes where things become a little tougher.
Building good habits doesn’t mean overcoming bad ones or ramping up our motivation to suddenly change overnight. Those kinds of changes don’t stick.
Instead, we need to leverage our natural human tendencies.
To have real, sustainable success, we need to make it as easy as possible to get started. Enter the “commitment device.” These subtle cues set us up for long term success by using our brains and bodies the way they’ve evolved to be used.
What is a Commitment Device?
Commitment devices leverage our natural human tendencies so that we can “get the ball rolling”; giving us the nudge we need to keep moving in the right direction.
A commitment device is a choice you make NOW that will control your actions in the future. They are some of the most powerful but underutilized tools for changing health behaviors.
If you make an appointment with your personal trainer, you’ll show up at the gym.
If you pack your lunches in advance for the week, you’ll eat them.
If you order groceries online, you will skip the impulse buys and unhealthy items.
How to Use Commitment Devices
Here are two very simple commitment devices you can set up right now:
Book your personal training appointments or reserve spots in group classes for the upcoming week.
Make a plan for what you will eat for dinners for the week. Here’s how to do it:
Write up your grocery list.
Go to the store. (Or order online!)
Buy the groceries you’ll need for your meals.
Set aside one hour for food prep THIS WEEKEND
Chop up your vegetables, proteins, nuts and seeds. Put them into separate containers.
Make enough for the full week.
You don’t need to get fancy, in fact, the simpler the better. A commitment device is meant to be a tangible hint triggering your brain to finish the job.
Commitment devices remove friction and the burden of choice. Do your future self a favor: Make commitments in advance!
Need some help? We meet with all our members quarterly to ensure they are progressing towards their goals and help them come up with action steps they can commit to as means to get there. Schedule your free intro with us below to get started!
Article inspired by Chris Cooper of Catalyst Gym