Temptation Bundling

Woman exercising on treadmill in gym

 

In yesterday’s post, I posed a challenge for those who struggle to find gym motivation.

I  love psychology. And I believe that pairing gym visits with a particularly engaging story can help you not only find the motivation you need to show up, but also cause you to associate more positive feelings with the gym in the future.

The challenge is a form of “Temptation Bundling.”

Willpower is Half Motivation

Willpower isn’t just willpower. Really, it’s a combined term for two aspects of a human trait:
1. The strength of a desire; and
2. The willingness and ability to actually perform a concrete action in furtherance of that desire

If you know absolutely nothing about math, but know that you’ll get $500 if you learn Trig by next year, you might learn it.

But if you know absolutely nothing about math, but you know that your first born will be killed if you can’t figure it out in the same time frame, the odds of you learning it are much higher.

It’s an oversimplification to chalk this all up to dopamine, but certainly it plays a role. Motivation is related to attention. And attention is related to things that matter to you. Like your first-born not being thrown into a river.

Stack the Deck in Your Favor 

Things that matter to you can improve your willpower by increasing your attention, and therefore your motivation.

So make a conscious effort to make mundane things matter more. This is how you stack the deck in your favor.

It will help you in two different ways:

[1] Activation Energy. Increased attention provides the initial interest and activation energy you need to get started and get over initial hurdles.

[2] Habit Formation  Performing any activity will begin your brain on the journey of creating a habit. Doing it in an interested state will likely make it stick better.  As they say, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Soon enough, you’ll enjoy a semi-automatic behavior, the familiarity of which will bring you comfort and joy.  You just need a little help getting there.

Use Temptation Bundling

Temptation bundling is just one hack of many that you can use to increase your motivation, and thus, your willpower. Bundle an enjoyable activity with a less enjoyable one, and keep the association strict. 

In order to do this effectively, you’ll have to know yourself.

For example, I love audiobooks, and I don’t have much of an attention span for television. I like certain shows, but I can’t focus on a show while exercising. You might experience the exact opposite.

If you LOVE a particular show, then ONLY watch that show at the gym. I personally do the same with audiobooks.

More Examples of Temptation Bundling for Fitness

  1. Make a pact with a friend you don’t see often, but whose company you thoroughly enjoy.  For the next three months, you are only going to hang out at the gym. This is you time.
  2. Listen to your favorite audiobook only while exercising.
  3. Watch your favorite TV show only while exercising.
  4. Have a small piece of chocolate every time you exercise! And at no other time.
  5. Splurge on cute gym clothes, so that whenever you are at the gym you feel like the hottest ticket
  6. If you are motivated by physical challenges, then spend the first 2 minutes of your workout racing yourself on the treadmill and try to beat your old times.

Many people do these things without even realizing. Often, these are the people who experience the most success.

If you don’t do these things naturally, then it’s very important to be concrete in your temptation bundling rule and action.

The only person you are trying to help here is yourself, and a concrete behavior is what you need to get the habit formation going.

If you have any other tips and tricks, I’d love to hear. And I’d also love to hear how any of these tips work out for you.

Happy Bundling 🙂

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