Let’s say you want to start eating healthier. This was actually one of my goals a while back: no red meats, no carbs, limit sugars, drink lots of water.

Or, let’s say you want to stop drinking so much – at most two per evening. (Well, you’ve got to start somewhere).

If you hit that thing head on, you’re just likely to give up in a couple of days time. You’re likely to revert back to your normal behavior and slowly start cheating on the rules.

So you should set what I’ve come to call a “tangent”.

You should set the actual goal to be:

“I have to wake up early at 6am to get to the gym.”

Which means you have to be in bed by 11pm to get at least your seven hours sleep. Which means you have to come home by 10pm. Which means it’s harder to get so many drinks in you between 8pm when you leave work and 10pm when you have to be home.

(Better yet, an easier tangent here might be: I’ve got to drive myself home at the end of the evening. This will naturally will hit your original goal.)

I find myself using tangents to check the most difficult habits off my list.