No, Seriously. Just Try It: TAPs

This next semester (I’m in university, so that’s how I measure time) I’m working on developing my ability to better integrate arbitrary habits into my behavior. Trigger-action-planning (a more detailed explanation as well) is LW’s most concrete strategy for doing such a thing, so I’ve decided to just try it. Starting 3 weeks ago and proceeding for the next 6 months I’m working on my personal approach to Trigger-action-planning (TAP for short).

My basic structure for this:

  • Each week (Sunday morning) design a new TAP, or redesign an old one.

  • Aim to follow through on the TAP in all applicable situations throughout the week.

  • At the end of each day (as part of an already existing review process) note if I did or did not follow through.

  • At the end of each week, look back and think on if the TAP was useful, what worked well, what was hard, and all that jazz.

The biggest things that’s jumped out at me so far has been that not all TAPs are created equal. I think conceptual similarity does not imply actionable similarity applies very heavily to TAPs. In light of this, I’m approaching each week’s TAP from a very implementation specific perspective, and then afterwards I’m going to think about what connections and universal principles might apply.

Here are some things I’ve noticed so far:

  • It’s seems like there’s a “mindfulness bootstrapping” problem, in that it often feels like my TAPs are only activated because of preexisting mindfulness triggers.

  • I’ve been putting the handle for each week’s TAP on my phone lock screen. This was a very effective reminder originally, though it’s already lost most of its power three weeks in. Mayhaps having a randomly generated background image would help prevent my mind from filtering out expected reminders. One google search and perusing the first page of results did not produce an app to do this.

  • I notice that sometimes there’s a glimmer of noticing I’m in a context to activate the TAP, yet I don’t. Part of this might be friction related to stopping whatever train of thought/​awareness I’m currently on. Giving myself explicit permission to derail thoughts to execute a TAP could help.

I’ll be posting updates on this project every so often. If you have had trouble with attempting TAPs or similar situational habit practices in the past, I’d love to hear about the specifics how what you’ve tried and what hasn’t worked.

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