Our next blog series will discuss the book Stick with It: A Scientifically Proven Process for Changing Your Life – for Good by Sean Young, Ph.D. Today, we will learn about captivating and engrained forces.
Dr. Young highlights the importance of using a captivating reward for making behavioral changes. Rewards work best when they are tailored to the individual’s unique desires - what might be captivating for one person may not be captivating for another. A “quick fix” reward capitalizes on immediate gratification so people connect the reward to the desired behavior, while a “trick fix” reward uses intermittent reinforcement so people don’t lose motivation because they expect the reward. For example, allowing yourself to watch TV immediately after completing an assignment is a “quick fix reward.” Your coach randomly shortening conditioning because the team worked hard throughout the workout is a “trick fix reward.” If coach always cut time off conditioning, you would start to expect it. Not only would it lose its power as a reward, but you would be upset when you did actually have to go the entire time.
The engrained force highlights how our brain is designed to be efficient and desires automatic behaviors that require little energy. When you consider an athletic skill, such as swinging a bat, it’s probably difficult to actually describe the skill because it’s so engrained. Having your swing so engrained frees up mental energy to focus on pitch selection or base running. We want our positive behaviors to become so engrained that they eventually become automatic. The secret to engraining these positive behaviors is repetition. Just like you swung the bat a thousand times before it became automatic, you will need to repeat positive behaviors over and over to achieve the same level.
Dr. Young offers the idea of magnetic behaviors to increase the likelihood of behaviors becoming engrained. He suggests individuals “pair similar behaviors together so that if they get themselves to do one thing they can easily do, it will make them more likely to do the other thing.”
This is why pre-performance routines and mental reps work so well.
When you pair these behaviors with the physical actions of preparing to compete, they will become a cue for each other. Check out our lesson on Building Rock Solid Confidence (Module 6) for useful tips on effective visualization/imagery. Our lesson on Focus and Distraction Management (Module 7) will help you create an effective pre-performance routine that cues your mind for success!
While captivating and engrained forces are applicable to all the behaviors, both forces are most useful for burning behaviors. In addition, captivating is also applicable for common behaviors and engrained is applicable for automatic behaviors. As a review, automatic behaviors typically happen without realizing you are doing it, while burning and common behaviors are in your awareness. The desire to do burning behaviors is quite strong and we typically lack motivation to change common behaviors.
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