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  • Writer's pictureRyan Wilson

Setting Ourselves Up For Success – Part 2 of 3

This is the second of three in a series talking about practical things you can do maximize your success when setting goals that matter.

It is easiest to think of it as a three step process:

  1. Choose a Replacement behaviour

  2. Rehearse & Pair it

  3. Use external cues (this one is the most fun!

This week we’ll focus on  Rehearsing and Pairing.


We have previously talked about how we automatically fuse (aka believe, invest in) our thoughts and feelings. We treat them like they are absolute facts (See post re: Our Favourite Excuses). That is why when we are watching a horror movie and the bad guy is coming around the corner, our heart starts to race, and when the couple gets reunited we feel all warm and fuzzy.

Similarly, when we are thinking Joe from the office doesn’t like us, our bodies respond as if that is an absolute fact. When we see Joe we get anxious and tight and feel threatened- whether or not that is true!

So with rehearsal we are using our natural tendency to fuse with our thoughts and feelings to our advantage. When there are situations where we think some of our unhelpful excuses or behaviours will probably come up, we can REHEARSE dealing with those in a healthy way (ie. using our REPLACEMENT behaviour) and making our healthy choice anyway! Some of the most common excuses that come up for us and get in our way are “I’m too tierd”, “it doesn’t matter anyway”, “I’ll do it later”, “it won’t work”, “I don’t care” or “it doesn’t matter” etc. See post re: Our Favourite Excuses for more details.

Rehearsing actually activates the neural circuitry in the brain as if we are actually in the situation, creating a new map for our brain to follow from the pathways from the anticipated situation to the healthy response. This increases the chances that when we are in the situation, that we will use the healthy response.

This is such a powerful tool, that it is used in rehabilitation of people who have lost limbs, or had brain injuries to help them start to move parts of their bodies again or re-learn how to complete certain tasks. Visualization and rehearsal have been linked to higher success rates of functional recovery in these populations.

It will still require conscious effort though,

because it is like the difference between taking our usual route home vs trying a new way home. We have to be more alert and engaged to try the new one, because the old one is virtually on automatic pilot. Similarly, the more we take the new way home, the easier it becomes and the more likely we are to start doing that automatically. So it makes sense that rehearsing the healthy response / alternative would help set us up for success.

We have established the importance of rehearsing, but how do we get ourselves to do it? The best way to introduce any new behaviour is to PAIR IT with something we already do every day, like brushing our teeth, watching the news, driving to work etc.

So if we paired rehearsing with brushing our teeth every morning, we will imagine a situation where it may be difficult to follow our values or complete our SMART goal and also imagine seeing ourselves succeeding and using the replacement behaviour .

An example might be my SMART goal is to be assertive at work at least 2x/ this week when people ask me to do extra tasks for them. Every morning, I will imagine that situation coming up, either as I imagine it will, or I can go back to previous times I didn’t say no and see myself acting differently, more in line with my values this time.

This is a high yield strategy!

It literally takes seconds and makes a BIG difference !!!

As always, we would love to hear your questions and comments, you can email us or send us a message on twitter @DrAdrianaWilson. See you next week, when we talk about External Cues!

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