Try an ‘If-Then’ Strategy

Accountability Personal leadership Purpose


Key Point: I want to reinforce two things that are great personal strategies to help you get to where you want to go. For those of you reading and doing the Character Triangle Companion 30-Day Kick Start, this will help you too. (And thank you). 

Write down your dream and purpose statement. Declare milestones to yourself. This includes stating your desired outcomes in a way that helps you know where you are on your journey.

Take a moment to read the letter below. It was written by Colin Kaepernick when he was 9 years old. Of course many of you know that he is now the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, one of the teams he hoped to play for when he declared his future NFL dreams in the 4th grade. Now you might say this was a fluke, but the research validates that writing down your goals materially increases your chances of achieving them. We have to dream, have a view of a desired future state, and strive each day with intent towards that outcome. Too many people I know spend time complaining about their current state and wish for something else. And too often that “something else” is not clear, it is just “not this.” If that’s where you are, then I’m betting you’re going to be there for a while.



 Use “if-then” action planning.

This is a really powerful way to help you achieve any goal. Well over one hundred studies, on everything from diet and exercise to time management, have shown that deciding in ADVANCE when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal can increase (2x or more) your chances for success. This ties to Charles Duhigg‘s “The Power of Habit” I often refer to. The “if” is a cue to “then” do. For example, if it’s just before bedtime, then I’m going to meditate. If it is Saturday at 9 a.m., then I’m going to work out until 10 a.m. If I see a blueberry muffin, then I’m going to drink a glass of water. If it is 5 p.m., then I’m going to read the daily chapter from The Character Triangle Companion and ask myself how I did on the active questions. People who want things to be positively and definitively better, but do not have a forward action strategy, usually give up their dream and purpose statement (if they even have one). Too often they then wallow in the mud of misery… “Poor me,” “I’m a victim of circumstance, “It will never change,” “I’m stuck.” Yup… They’re likely to stay there.

Character Moves:

  1. Write down your dream and purpose statement. If 9-year-old Kaepernick can do it, so can you. Don’t be afraid. It’s between you and your “journal.” Declare your purpose and desired milestones. Don’t just think it, write it down. What have you got to lose? Why wait? Do it NOW, not tomorrow. Just write down a stream of consciousness to begin with. Sleep on it and refine it over time. Then lock and load for action. Usually it is the one step at a time process that gets us a long, positive way down the road.
  2. Use “if- then” strategies to both do and avoid things that help you move towards the dream in consort with your purpose. Have a personal strategy. When the cue takes place, make your action positively happen until it becomes automatic. Reward yourself when you stick to it. Willpower involves using a strategy. We are not just born with or without strong willpower. We need to develop and practice it daily.
  3. Allow for time and many little “if-then” connections to accumulate towards your dream milestones. Check in with your dream and purpose statement. Make it ok to go over your milestones (and/or make adjustments) on a regular basis and celebrate when you get to achievements along the way.
  4. Remember that intent AND forward action need to go together. They’re two personal strategies for the better.

 If-then in The Triangle


P.S. download my new ebook, thanks.