Leading the Horse

If you’ve completed the Follow Through Strategies course, you already know about the Leading the Horse to Water strategy. That strategy calls for removing the unpleasant part of a task you need to complete – scaling it back as much as it takes to detoxify it so you can move forward and build the momentum and structure necessary to eventually get the whole job done. In other words, it’s a matter of lowering the bar so that you can easily clear it.

I used the Leading the Horse to Water strategy myself years ago to create an exercise habit that remains rock-solid to this day.

Instead of requiring myself to use an exercise bike for 20 minutes a day, which felt like an extremely unpleasant eternity, I lowered the bar and required myself to do nothing more than put on my exercise clothes and sit on the damned bike! With the task detoxified, that is, with the avoidance-worthy part of it gone, I no longer avoided visiting the bike every day. And before long, by golly, I was exercising for 20 minutes or longer every day.

Now, you might be wondering, if deliberately making it easier to do the right thing — the thing you intend to do — can help you follow through, can deliberately making it harder to do the wrong thing — the thing you’ve intelligently decided not to do — also help you follow through? The answer is a resounding YES.   

I’ll cover this more in a future blog post, but here’s a spoiler alert: If you’ve decided to eat healthier snacks, don’t stop at making sure that apples are as easy as pie (pun intended) to reach when you’re hungry. Also make sure that those greasy potato chips you absolutely love are as hard to get to as possible — preferably stored on the other side of a crocodile-infested moat!