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Goal Setting Part 3: How To Frame A New Behavior In A Way That Increases The Odds That You Actually End Up Taking The Necessary Steps

In my last article on Goal Setting (Part 2) I told you about how I started using the self-regulatory approach to better arrange my desk and office. A powerful motto (“I’m creating space to thrive”) represented by the image of an eagle flying high in the sky clearly helped me to increase my drive to create a more organized work environment.

Here’s something else you can do with yourself and with your clients to increase the odds of a positive attitude (and the goal that’s connected to it) actually manifesting.

In my experience, ‘when-then’ plans are very useful to frame necessary steps in a new behavior and implement intentions.

It goes like this:

I’m telling myself (first loud, then just in my head), “When it’s 7 pm, then I’m checking my desk and put everything in its place.”

When I find something on my desk, then I’m putting it where it belongs.”

Check for yourself how this comes across to you. Doesn’t it sound and feel different than saying, “At 7 pm I check my desk and put everything in its place.”? “If I find something on my desk, I put it where it belongs.”

Why is this?

The psychologist Peter Gollwitzer found that when stated in this ‘when-then form,’ goals have a much higher likelihood of actually getting accomplished.

By imagining the situation in which you’d like to perform a particular action and by saying that statement (out loud or in your head), you’re creating a reliable link between the situation and that behavior.

And, in my experience, it does work. That’s why I’m inviting you to try it out for yourself.

I learned this effective approach to achieving goals at a workshop in Zürich, Switzerland in December 2013.

The model is called Zürcher Ressourcen Modell (ZRM) and was created by Maja Storch and Frank Krause, two German psychologists, and I integrated their concept into the LIMBIC COACHING method.


Sylvia Kurpanek

I love helping clients of all walks of life
• get unstuck and into the flow
• overcome obstacles
• handle challenges in their personal or professional lives
• increase creativity and overall well-being
• mentally prepare for, attain and sustain peak performance
• get where they want to be.
In my work I’m applying a variety of methods to make sure I’m meeting every client’s unique requirements.

It’s my goal to help clients use their mind to work for, rather than against, their best interest. I aim to provide optimal support in very few sessions, generally 1-5. Because people’s time is very precious, and I absolutely respect that.

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