Michaeline: Pre-suasion, Priming and New Beginnings

A lady gathering green branches in a snowy landscape that still has flowers.

December is a great time to gather your thoughts in the odd moments during your many tasks. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

This week, something odd popped up on my Google Calendar for Saturday. “Huh. I thought this weekend was free.”

It turned out to be a reminder from One-Year-Ago-Me, saying, “I really liked the pre-resolutions. Do it again this year?” Our Justine also talked about early resolutions in 2015.

Now, I know. This time of year is really busy for all of us. I’m preparing for New Year’s guests – cooking, getting the pantry stocked, buying new sheets and trying to un-dig myself out of mountains of clutter from the past year. I feel like this year was a particularly slow slog, although I started getting my mojo back in September. I’ve made a few in-roads on the housekeeping pre-resolutions, but now I’ve got to ask: “What about writing?”

I’m reading a book now called Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini, and it’s all about preparing the way *to* the message, but the lessons in the book are readily transferrable to all sorts of actions. A copywriter recommended this book on Reddit for other copywriters who want to write persuasive copy, something that will sway others. But Cialdini points out that you can use these techniques to persuade yourself.

Long-time readers of the blog know I’m interested in “priming” – another way to say pre-suasion – and I’ve written about Thinking Fast and Slow and other books. I’ve even made puzzles for our readers to prime us to write.

So, this is nothing new, but a new book makes me want to try an old approach again.

I’m going to write. My goal is to write two stories. For preference, both about the winter season, and if possible, one of them about ghosts.

But I’m also going to use December to set myself up to succeed. I’m going to clear out two writing spaces, and figure out a way to put up posters and inspirational slogans. I’m going to select a Word of the Year for my writing career, and put it on the post-it over my computer’s camera lens. And I’m going to figure out an “if/when, then” plan for writing this year.

This is from Cialdini’s book. Say, for example, you want to strengthen your ankles for winter sports (such as walking from the house to the car on a sheet of ice). You set up a trigger, and associate it with your goal. “If/when I brush my teeth, I’ll stand on my tippy-toes and lower myself back down 20 times.” You hook up a new habit to a recurring event, triggering event, or old habit that perhaps your parents or teachers laid down for you in the distant past (like brushing your teeth).

I love a new beginning, and December 1 seems like a good time for a mini-beginning for mini-goals – ramping up in to the new year and the new decade. Enjoy your November, all!

4 thoughts on “Michaeline: Pre-suasion, Priming and New Beginnings

  1. I’m trying to find a way to motivate myself to continue doing my PT exercises, because I’m not seeing a physical therapist anymore. I’m less inclined to do them, and I have to persuade myself that I’m better off if I do. It sounds like what you’re reading is kind of about this. I don’t really need to be persuaded to write; it’s often a welcome rest from what other activities I’m doing, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need to be persuaded to do these activities!

    Good luck with your December pre-resolutions, Michaeline. I myself will be too busy to work on resolutions until January 1, if then. 🙂

    • Exercise of any sort is a PITA, for me. I just don’t like to do it, and the only way I can motivate myself is by reading or watching YouTube during my cycling time. I suffered a back hernia in October, but it’s practically healed by now, so it’s time to get back on the stationary bike. My boy cat loves coming along for the ride, so it’s a bit of a juggle — holding the phone, swaying while I pedal, and catching the cat who leaps for my chest. I have to say, I am not always a successful juggler. But it can be kind of nice when it’s all working out fine.

      Good luck with your PT! It might be worthwhile to even get a trainer for a little while longer. If you write a story about him/her, then maybe you can count it as a business expense on your taxes?

  2. This sounds really good, Michaeline. i have one writing space that is very cluttered. I could spend the next month clearing stuff out of it. It goes along with something I’ve been doing all year – getting rid of 1 thing a day every day for 365 days. If I got rid of one thing a day from my desk, it would be much more user friendly by January 1. I desperately want to get back in the writing saddle. I’d like to know what word you choose. Good luck.

    • That one item a day thing always sounds like a good idea. I need to hook it up with a trigger or an if/when statement. If/When I change the cats’ water, I will throw away or find a place for one item. (Although, the table that I’m thinking of next to the cats’ feeding station needs to be ready by December 30th, so I’ll have to pick up the pace a little. Maybe 10 minutes of tidying that table each day until it’s done? I could probably do that.)

      I’ll let you know when I figure out which word I want! Might make a good New Year’s post.

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