We don’t rise to the level of our challenges; we fall to the level of our preparation.
“Commitment devices” set us up for long-term success: using our bodies and brains in the way they’ve evolved to be used.
We’re wired to save energy. For thousands of years, our brains and bodies have evolved to seek the path of least friction—in other words, we take the easiest route. We’re pretty good at it.
We scroll through Instagram because it’s easier than getting out of bed. We put off our lunch because it’s cold outside … and then hit the snack machines because there’s no other food nearby.
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.
A commitment device is a choice you make NOW that will control your actions in the future. For example, if you make an appointment with your personal trainer, you’ll show up at the gym. If you join a soccer team, you’ll show up for the games. And if you prepare your lunches in advance for the week, you’ll eat them.
Here are two very simple commitment devices you can set up right now:
Schedule your workouts ahead of time.
Write down your daily workout time in your planner so you know not to overbook yourself.
Commit yourself to the same time everyday and make sure others know your workout time.
Write down what your lunches will be for the week.
To make it easy, either eat the same thing every day OR plan your dinners for the week and carry the leftovers over to the next day’s lunches.
Write up your grocery list.
Go to the store.
Buy the groceries you’ll need for all of your lunches.
Set aside one hour for food prep TONIGHT.
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: Most of us eat the same thing most of the time, and that’s just fine. Save your variety for dinner.
P.S. Commitment devices remove friction and the burden of choice. Do your future self a favor: Make commitments in advance!
What are your commitments for this week?
Inspiration provided by Chris Cooper at Catalystgym.com.