How the “If Then” formula works in real life

I’m not naturally a numbers girl; I have come to respect them though and enjoy the thrill of a well prepared spread sheet, catalogue system and predictability forecast for consumer behaviour. I like the simplicity of a solid budget, a market cycle and supply versus demand. Despite numbers being a construct, it feels real and concrete when they add up. Only recently I discovered the very useful, sweet logic of the If Then function in Excel; hallelujah! (Now, if only someone could invent an “If Only” tool, I’d be euphoric.)

Then, by chance, if there is such a thing, I read this advice by a research leader from Harvard University about getting past feeling guilty when torn between what you think you should and what you want to do.

The expert’s tip:

The trick is to combine your “shoulds” with your “wants” to lower the regret you feel and actually increase your follow-through; e.g. if you go to the gym for just half an hour first then you can meet friends for beers, or if you mow the lawn now then you can watch a movie after. Sounds easy, right? The key is the order of hurdle and reward, until it becomes a reflex – the more times you succeed, the easier it gets. Chore first; always. I’ve seen a lot of managers and parents fumble this one and I suspect the resulting learning looks the same. Work those numbers, people.

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