44: How to List Better
To-do lists, checklists, scorecards can be great tools to keep us on track. But they can also seem like an overwhelming task themselves. Or worse yet, they can become yet another way that we judge our own abilities or self-worth. In this episode, we show you how to create a list that suits you and your goals. We also explore how to structure that list so it can keep you on track without being a constant reminder of how much work you have to do. Takeaways - When used well, lists or scorecards can help us manage our time, accomplish our goals, and track our progress. - Make sure your list doesn’t have more on it than you can reasonably accomplish in a given time frame. To-do lists aren’t just for work and chores. - Make sure you also include things that are fun and rewarding on your list. - Scorecards are more effective if used to track the things you want to do and not just the things you want to avoid. - Bonus takeaway: Whether you are keeping a to-do list or a scorecard, include a note about why each task is important to you or how you will benefit from it. Lab Experiment - If you have an existing to-do list, make sure it has only things you really plan to accomplish. Remove the dead weight and make a list that seems doable and important to you. If you don’t have a to-do list, start one by listing the tasks that you really want to get done this week. - Next, add the fun activities you have planned (or would like to plan) to the list. - Now, choose three new behaviors that you would like to adopt and add those to your list. - If the list seems too long or feels like a bummer, move items around, change the wording or remove items that lack meaning until you have a list that feels doable and energizing.
11 Jun 2021
43: What's Holding You Back?
Some of our goals or objectives require us to master a range of different skills. You’ll probably be naturally stronger in some areas than others. And sometimes, in order to reach our goals, overcoming or strengthening a weakness is essential. But it's not just about forcing yourself to work on the things that are hard for you. In this episode, we focus on identifying areas where you need more support--and seeking out resources that can help.
2 Jun 2021
42: Cues and Prompts
In this episode, we’ll teach you how to identify and dismantle unhelpful cues and also build some helpful ones. We all have cues in our lives that prompt us to carry out certain behaviors, like putting a seat belt on when we get in a car, grabbing snacks when we sit on the couch to watch a movie, or pouring a glass of wine when we change out of our work clothes. Some of our cue responses are good (like seatbelts), and some are not so good (like snacks and alcohol). Many of them probably developed over time without our conscious intention. We can, however, deliberately create cues in our lives to help us make decisions and perform behaviors that will benefit us. Takeaways Bringing conscious awareness to our cued behaviors can help us break them. If we’re trying to break a bad habit it can be really helpful to eliminate or modify the cue as well as the behavior. Purposely introducing new behaviors that are anchored to already existing behaviors can give us a nice head start. Introducing a level of fun and gamification to this process can make it more effective. Lab Experiment For the next week, see how many cues or prompts you can spot as you go through your day. Jot them down as you come across them on a notepad or in your note-taking app. At the end of the week, review your list. How many of your cues are triggering helpful behaviors and how many are triggering unhelpful responses? How can you use this information to dismantle unhelpful cue/response cycles? You might choose to eliminate or modify the cue. Or you might choose to replace the old response to that cue with a new one.
21 May 2021
41: The Power of Positive Illusions
Having a firm grip on reality is usually seen as a sign of good mental health. But social scientists have discovered that happy and successful people routinely overestimate their skill, talent, and chances of success. In fact, that may be one of the secrets to their success. In this episode, we explore why being overly optimistic is not a cognitive defect that needs to be overcome but a constructive trait that we can cultivate. Takeaways 1. Being willing to believe that you’ll beat the odds can make it more likely that you will 2. When you believe you’ll be successful in the end, it’s easier to cope with (and even learn from) setbacks. 3. Reflecting on past successes can be a good way to bolster your optimism about the future. 4. Optimism doesn’t save you from having to do the work. But we’re usually willing to work harder for something that we believe we can achieve. Lab Experiment 1. Think of a goal or result you’d like to achieve. 2. Visualize what it would feel and look like to achieve it. 3. Picture yourself taking the steps required to make that dream a reality. (If you can’t clearly picture what those steps are, spend some time figuring out what they would be.) 4. Allow yourself to feel confident and optimistic—and let that optimism fuel your determination to do the work.
7 May 2021
Most Popular Podcasts
Spring Break (Extracurricular)
Monica and Brock are taking a brief Spring Break but we will be back in May with brand new episodes. In the meantime, this is the perfect time to go back and relisten to some of our previous episodes - in particular, the series about the "Eight Things to Make Changes that Last." You may also find it helpful to download the Lab Notebook at https://changeacademypodcast.com/notebook See you all soon!
14 Apr 2021
40: Changes We'd Like to Keep
A year ago, virtually every aspect of our lives changed profoundly: How we eat, shop, work, socialize, exercise, etc. These weren’t changes we chose but changes that were forced on us. Now that we are beginning to imagine life returning to something more similar to pre-pandemic, we have some decisions to make. Are there new habits that we’ve adopted that we might want to keep? Old habits that we don’t want to return to? What’s clear is that we DON’T want to do is miss this opportunity to make a conscious choice. Takeaways For better or worse, the pandemic forced us to reassess/reinvent virtually every aspect of our lives. There may be things that we adopted over the last year that actually worked better for us. It’s worth pausing before we rush back into our pre-pandemic patterns to consider how we might want to return. No matter what we choose, we are likely to be happier and more fulfilled if we make those choices consciously. Lab Experiment Select an area of your life that you were forced to reinvent during the pandemic and will now have an opportunity to either revert to the previous stays quo or not. Make a list of all of the ways that the change benefited you all the ways in which the change did not benefit you. Think about those pros and cons in the context of your values. (Is convenience more important to you than consistency for example? Is quality more important than quantity? Is supporting local business more important than getting the cheapest price?) Decide what you’d like to do once your options are open. Will you go back to your original status quo, stay with your current status quo, or design a third option that works best of all?
9 Apr 2021
39: What's Your Default?
Behavioralist Schlomo Benartzi defines a default as “what happens if you do nothing.“ If we’re too busy, distracted, or fatigued to make a choice or decision, the default wins the day. And because we’re often busy, distracted, or fatigued we want to be careful and intentional about which defaults are operating on our lives. In this episode, we’ll show you how to do that. Takeaways Some default mechanisms are imposed on us by society, employers, software, etc. Others we create and implement for our own benefit. Like habits, default mechanisms can be very powerful--both in ways that serve us and ways that don’t. Because defaults are often somewhat invisible, we may not always notice them. But it’s important to be aware when a default is operating in our lives. Defaults represent the path of least resistance. But does that path (still) lead where we want to go? Lab Experiment Option 1: Step 1: Identify a default mechanism that is currently in place in your life (whether it’s one that you designed or one that was put in place by someone else). Step 2: Ask yourself: does this path of least resistance lead somewhere that I want to go? Step 3: If not, how can you disable that default mechanism? Option 2: Step 1: Identify a goal or outcome you want to create. (For example, saving a certain percentage of your income, not reading emails during certain hours, eating more vegetables). Step 2: Ask yourself: What default mechanism can I put in place to make that happen? (For example, setting up an automatic savings plan, changing the settings on your email client, or subscribing to a produce delivery).
31 Mar 2021
Office Hours (Extracurricular)
In this extracurricular episode, we invite you to listen in to a group coaching session that we held recently with members of our year-long Weighless Program. The strategies and insights that came up in this session can be applied to any change you are working on. And if you think you might like to work with us in the Weighless Program, be sure to listen to the very end for a special offer for Change Academy listeners. (The next group begins on April 9th. Details are here https://weighless.life/enroll.)
28 Mar 2021
38: How Do You Want to Engage?
In the last episode, we talked about deciding which thoughts deserve our energy. But once we've decided that a situation deserves our attention, we need to decide how we want to engage with it. The words we use to describe (even to ourselves) what’s going on in our lives or our heads can make a big difference. Takeaways The language that we use when we think or talk about a situation can affect how we engage with it We may want to approach different situations with different language or attitude. Just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it's right for you. Make sure you are choosing an approach that suits you. Trying on different approaches to the same thought or situation can help you find one that works best. So don’t give up after just one try. Lab Experiment Choose a situation or thought that you’ve decided deserves your attention and write a few sentences about it. Then, see if you can pick up a tone by asking yourself: What verbs are you choosing? What metaphors are you using? How do these make you feel? Can you think of other language or metaphors that create a different feeling? Does that feel better or worse? Decide what way of engaging serves you best and start to use that language in relation to this situation.
19 Mar 2021
37: Choosing Your Thoughts
Not all of our thoughts deserve our attention or energy. Some can safely be dismissed without further examination. But we often allow unworthy or unhelpful thoughts to take up a lot of real estate in our brains--and this can negatively impact how we feel, what we do, and ultimately what we accomplish. In this episode, we talk about why it’s so important to choose which thoughts you give your energy to. Takeaways With all the thousands of thoughts going through our head, we are bound to have some that stick in our craw and that is OK. Thoughts on their own are harmless. It is what we choose to do with them that creates negative feelings and emotions. When we feel strong emotions like regret or shame over our thoughts we give those thoughts more energy and power over us. Managing our thoughts takes time (like most meaningful change) but taking that time can free our mental energy to make progress on our goals instead of just thinking about them. Lab Experiment Next time you notice that a thought is causing you stress or discomfort, write that thought down. Step 1: Ask yourself: Is this thought verifiably true? (If you said it in public, would everyone agree that it is true? Step 2: Ask yourself: Do I have anything to gain from continuing to entertain this thought? Is continuing to think about this going to make me feel better or help me make a better decision? Step 3: If you decide that a thought does not deserve your energy, make a conscious decision to put it down. Use whatever imagery works best for you: pick up the remote control and change the channel, pluck it out of your mental garden and throw it in the compost, pick up the cosmic scissors and cut the string, or make up your own. But whatever image you choose, take a moment to really act it out in your imagination. Step 4: Decide what you want to think about instead and spend some time cultivating that thought.
9 Mar 2021