Triggers Marshall Goldsmith - Fit Armadillo

Triggers Marshall Goldsmith

Triggers Marshall Goldsmith Book Review

Why Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith?

As a personal trainer, I find it hard to resist a self-help book about creating behavior change.  Afterall, helping my clients make positive changes they can maintain on their own is crucial for their long-term success.

I believe so strongly in the impact of behavior change that identifying your current stage of behavior change is Day One of my 5 Day DIY Fitness Routine eCourse!​

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to get a review copy of Marshall Goldsmith's book, Triggers, from Blogging for Books.

What did I think about Triggers?

While the beginning of the book seemed to drag a little for me (remember, I read a lot of these types of self-help books!), I found the insights inside fascinating.

Unlike many books about behavior change that focus exclusively on your personal habits, Triggers takes a different approach. The book puts tackling personal behavior changes in the context of our often complex relationships. The result is that it holds true to the promise offered on its cover: Triggers provides tools to help you create lasting behavior change AND become a better person in the process. The latter insights come from Marshall Goldsmith's background as an executive coach. His tactics are designed to help you relate better with the people you interact with at work and at home.  The actions of the people you interact with on a daily basis can make or break your ability to create lasting behavior change.  While we might not want to admit it, what other people say and do can trigger positive or negative reactions from ourselves. Goldsmith teaches us how to deal with these triggers as we work to change a given behavior. The tools he shares therefore not only help us, but our relationships as well. This is why he can claim that the book will help you become a better person! 

While I highly recommend checking out Triggers for yourself, I also want to share some key insights from the book that you can implement as you work on your healthy lifestyle goals.

Lessons from Marshall Goldsmith's Triggers to Apply to Your Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

1. Your environment has a huge impact on your ability to maintain a behavior change.

Obvious? It might seem like it, but Marshall Goldsmith reminds us that we often underestimate this power of this truth.

Action step:
Ask yourself how you can you make your environment more conducive to the change(s) you want to create in your life?.
How to apply this tip to your healthy lifestyle goals:
-Restock your pantry with healthy foods. 
-Place healthy choices on your counter i.e. a bowl of apples vs. processed snacks
-Select workout clothes and gear the night before a morning run, walk, or workout so you're  more likely to complete it!
-Sign up for a 1-on-1 online personal training session with a Fit Armadillo trainer     so you can tone up at home.  The appointment will hold you accountable in an  environment that might otherwise encourage you to zone out while watching TV  after work.

2. ​Behavior change involves four elements: Creating, Preserving, Eliminating, and Accepting.

Action step:

Ask yourself what you can create, preserve, eliminate and accept in regards to a behavior you are trying to change. 
How to apply this tip to your healthy lifestyle goals:

Do you try to work out at night, but find you never have the energy after a long day? You can create a new time you plan to work out to the morning so you get it done right away.  You'll also give yourself more energy and a mood boost that will help set a wonderful positive tone for the day.
Where does preserving come in? Perhaps you are trying to increase your fitness level and you already take a walking break at work. That's a great behavior that you would want to preserve.  Adding strength training or a yoga practice might be what you change. A well-rounded fitness routine includes heart pumping activity as well as resistance training and flexibility. 
If you're already working out, but not losing weight you might need to eliminate food habits that aren't helping your cause. Swapping out some snack choices or eliminating nightly desserts would be a good action step. 
And accepting? Based on my experience with my own fitness clients, I'd recommend accepting that change will take time. Healthy weight loss will have you losing 0.5-2 lbs per week. NOT 50 lbs in a month.  Building the endurance to run a 5K takes at least 8 weeks for a new runner.  Accepting the length of time it takes to reach a goal or that you might not be able to be an elite athlete are both helpful in moving forward. You'll be able to make and set more realistic goals that you can actually reach and therefore, will be more likely to succeed in the long term. 

3.  Magic moves

Apologizing, asking for help, and showing optimism are magic moves that can inspire behavior change in others. Try these moves to get support for the changes you want to make in your life.
Action Step:

How can you use these three actions to gain the support of family and friends as you embark on a fitness, weight loss, or healthy lifestyle goal?
How to apply this tip to your healthy lifestyle goals:
-Maybe you have a friend who often asks you to join in on his or her workouts, but you weren't interested in the past. You might have even acted negatively towards their friendly invite. You could apologize for your behavior or just not taking your friend up on their offer and ask when it would be best for you to join them next.

-The people who are most successful with their healthy lifestyle goals in the long term are the ones who call on others for help. To put this tip into action you could share your goals with friends and family. But what if you're the first one in your crew to seek out a healthy lifestyle? While this can make things difficult and it doesn't mean you can't ask your friends for help.  Just be prepared for a little pushback!

If you get a lot of pushback or don't have someone who can give you advice, you might need to call in some extra support. A personal trainer could be your biggest ally and even a few sessions will go far in building your confidence in your form and the efficiency of the exercises you're including in your routine. But you don't need to go to a gym to work with one. Try making fitness a part of your lifestyle by toning up at home with the help of our 1-on-1 online personal training sessions.

-The first few weeks of your healthy lifestyle journey are likely going to be filled with optimism. But, sometimes that can wain as life gets in the way. Actively tune into your "why" for starting your journey and refer to it often to keep your motivation up. While this tip might not seem like it applies to other people it does! If you are confronted by a friend who makes fun of a new healthy habit, you can reply with the positive reason why you're making these choices. Your optimism can make the difference in your friend or coworker's ability to break your focus!
Asking active questions is a magic move to use on yourself to alter your own behavior. Active questions are a LOT different than the passive questions you are used to asking yourself like, how much you weigh or how many miles you ran on a given day. Swapping out your passive questions for active ones just might be the most important change in approach you can make if you're stuck with a current goal. 

Action step:

Ask yourself The Six Engaging Questions
1. Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
2. Did I make progress toward my goals today?
3. Did I do my best to find meaning today?
4. Did I do my best to be happy today?
5. Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
6. Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?
How to apply this tip to your healthy lifestyle goals:

Make the language for each question as specific to your current goal as possible.


4.  AIWATT - Marshall Goldsmith's principle for becoming the person you want to be

Ask yourself AIWATT​:

"Am I Willing At This Time, 
To make the investment required
to make a positive difference
on this topic?" 


This is important for having positive relationships with other people, but could also be applied to choices you are making related to your health. Just swap out "difference" for choice 😉

Action Step:

Write out the AIWATT question and post it in a prominent  place. 

How to apply this tip to your healthy lifestyle journey:

Look at your sign whenever you're making a choice related to your health. For example, when you're tempted to reach out for Ben and Jerry after a tough day. Are you ready and able to make a good choice in light of your emotions? It's ok to enjoy some ice-cream if you will actually enjoy it, but if you're going to eat the whole tub and beat yourself up for it later. STOP, breathe, and wait a while before reaching for that tasty treat.​


5.  ​We do NOT get better without structure

Whew! This is one I had to learn the hard way and finally started to master just before reading this book. It's a tip you definitely want to learn for yourself sooner than later.

Adding structure to my own day and creating a routine instead of being "cool" and keeping my own hours, has been life-changing for me. The fact that Marshall Goldsmith named a Triggers chapter title after tip #5 is even more compelling evidence of its importance. 

As Marshall notes, "imposing structure on parts of our day is how we seize control of our otherwise unruly environment (173)."

Our environment, as you'll recall from tip #1, can be one of our biggest downfalls. Add structure and you'll
rule your environment more than it rules you!

Action step:

Where in your life do you lack structure? How can you add structure to gain control over your environment?

How to apply this tip to your healthy lifestyle goals:

Trying some of the tips I shared in #1 above would be a great start. Additionally, you can work on adjusting your schedule or - as I had to do - creating a better schedule for yourself. Whether it's about carving out time for healthy meal planning or fitting in fitness, the more structure you can add the more likely you will be to succeed. It might seem like you're becoming a control freak and if you're a rebel like me you might resist this, but try it! I think you'll be surprised by the freedom you gain by adding structure! ​

​5. Use the right type of structure to overcome depletion

You probably didn't need research to tell you that you don't make the best choices when you're depleted! Just think back to the last time you didn't act the way you wanted to at the end of a long day.  The lesson here is that structure is even more important in situations where you're going to be depleted.

Action step:

Identify times in your day or people who make you feel depleted. How can you add structure to these areas?
How to apply this tip to your healthy lifestyle journey:

Set yourself up for success ASAP. Plan out healthy meals for the busy week on the weekend and do some food prep so those options are easier to reach for than fast food when you're tired.  Try to work out as early as possible or at the time you most enjoy.  If you interact with someone who stresses you out and you're an emotional eater, think about how you can add structure around this interaction to avoid poor choices.  

6. Hourly Questions

The questions noted in tip #3 can be asked multiple times a day!

Action step:

Create a timer on your phone to check in with yourself on an hourly basis to see if you're doing the best to work towards your goals.
How to apply this to your healthy lifestyle goals:

Make your questions goal specific. For example, "Did I do my best to move more often than sit during this past hour?" Knowing you'll be tested by this question again in another hour gives you a chance to make a change or keep rocking things!
7. The Circle of Engagement
Goldsmith calls the interactions we have with our environment the Circle of Engagement. This circle starts with a trigger. When something in our environment triggers us, we then have a impulse to act a certain way. As well trained students of Triggers, we then become aware of what's happening and make a choice about the behavior we want to take. Our behavior can trigger positive or negative reactions in other people who will act in ways that can trigger us again.
This circle highlights how crucial it is to be aware and engaged in our daily lives and the world arounds us. 
When we are present and engaged in the moment at hand, we enjoy life more and we make better decisions when triggered by outside forces.
I want you to apply this to lesson to ALL areas of your life! It's so important. We only have one life. Choose to enjoy each moment. Choose behaviors that get you closer to the goals you have for yourself. 

Now that you've read my review of Triggers, it's time to take action! 

Leave a comment sharing your thoughts. Have you read the book? Do you think you will check it out? MOST IMPORTANTLY, which of the 7 tips I shared from its pages can you try TODAY to get closer to your goals? ​

Catherine Basu

Hello! I'm the founder of Fit Armadillo® and I'm so glad you're here. If you've been looking for a way to start your healthy lifestyle, but you don’t want to join a gym or spend thousands of dollars on supplements and fad products, you’ve come to the right place. On the blog we share fitness tips and healthy recipes to get you started. For more 1-on-1 help head here to get matched with an awesome certified fitness professional.

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