Do you ever set goals for yourself, but never follow through? How many New Year's Resolutions have you made, but never accomplished? If this is the case, you may have experienced The Akrasia Effect. Let’s discuss what the Akrasia Effect is, why it happens, and what you can do to overcome Akrasia.
The Akrasia Effect is the state of acting against your better judgment. The Akrasia Effect is manifested through acts of procrastination or lack of self-control when you are doing something but you know you should be doing something else. Some examples of this are staying in bed instead of exercising, eating junk food when you know you could eat something healthier, and being on your phone when you could be practicing a hobby.
Time inconsistency is one explanation for why people experience the Akrasia Effect. The human brain has a tendency to prefer and value instant gratification and immediate rewards more than future rewards which often take more time to manifest. Time inconsistency is your brain envisioning the rewards you will reap from long-term goals such as setting fitness goals, learning a language, or saving money. It is easy to see the value in these long-term goals when it is accomplished, but actually taking the steps to achieve these goals is when akrasia happens, because there isn’t any instant gratification. You don’t immediately see the benefits of completing these tasks, so you don’t want to do them. Here are 3 strategies you can implement to beat the Akrasia Effect and achieve your long-term goals.
The first strategy you can implement to beat the Akrasia Effect is by creating a commitment device. A commitment device is the choices you make that will control your future actions. Commitment devices help you build your good habits and prevent you from acting upon your bad habits. Commitment devices will vary based on your specific goals and needs. But, some examples of commitment devices are: not keeping junk food in the house, bringing food with you on the go to prevent overspending, and leaving your phone in another room or at home to reduce your screen time. Commitment devices will help program your future actions so that you don’t have to rely on willpower.
The second strategy to beat the Akrasia Effect is to ease yourself into building the habits that will help you reach your goals. Sometimes actually completing a task isn’t the difficult part, it is getting yourself to start the task. Build a ritual that helps you start and show up to complete your tasks. Some examples are: putting out your gym clothes the night before, meal prepping, and getting your art supplies out.
The third strategy to implement to help reach your goals is to set intentions to implement your behavior. Some examples of intentions are “I will go on a walk for 30 minutes on Thursday at 3 pm,” “I will only spend $20 at the mall today,” and “I will read a chapter of my book tomorrow after dinner.” Setting intentions help you achieve your goals. Not only does scheduling these behaviors ahead of time help you implement them, but studies have also shown implementation intentions make you 2x to 3x more likely to perform these actions.
Implement these strategies into your life to help you beat the Akrasia Effect and achieve your long-term goals. Because our brains crave instant gratification instead of long-term rewards, it can take a lot of effort to get motivated and ready to perform these behaviors. But, if these goals are important to you, the effort will be worth it.
Source: James Earl