July 9

How To Leverage Friction For Better Goal Achievement


Whether you’re establishing a new habit or accomplishing specific goals, it’s important to understand the role of friction in your journey. When it’s beneficial, when it’s not and how to manage it effectively.

Understanding Friction

You probably learned about friction in school. It’s the resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another. In life, friction can either help or hinder our efforts. For example, when driving on an icy road, friction is essential to prevent skidding. Conversely, when ice skating, we want as little friction as possible for smooth gliding.

The same principle applies to our daily activities and actions. Sometimes friction is beneficial, helping us avoid unwanted behaviors, while other times, reducing friction is key to making it easier to accomplish our goals.

Removing Friction

To increase the likelihood of following through on positive habits, we need to remove as much friction as possible. Here are some examples:

  • Exercise: If you want to run every day, keep your sneakers by the door instead of in the back of the closet. This simple change reduces the effort needed to get started.
  • Journaling: If you want to journal every morning, keep your journal and pen beside your bed. This way, you can start writing as soon as you wake up without having to search for your materials.
  • Productivity: If you want to finish your daily tasks seamlessly, keep your to-do list and project management tool open on your desktop. This reduces the effort needed to refer back to what needs to be done next, keeping you on track.

Adding Friction

Adding friction can help discourage habits you want to reduce or eliminate. Here are some strategies:

  • Watching TV: If you want to watch less TV, store the remote in a drawer in the kitchen. This added step makes it less convenient to turn on the TV.
  • Social Media: If you want to spend less time on social media, delete the apps from your phone. Only access them from your computer, which requires more effort.
  • Unhealthy Snacking: If you’re trying to avoid unhealthy snacks, store them in a hard-to-reach place. The inconvenience may make you think twice before indulging.

Identifying Friction Points

Identify where friction is either helping or hindering you. Here are some steps to get started:

  1. Identify Actions: Look at the actions you want to complete and consider where friction is playing a role.
  2. Assess Friction Points: Determine if friction is making it harder to start or maintain a positive habit, or if it can be added to discourage a negative one.
  3. Implement Changes: Make adjustments to either reduce or add friction as needed. For example, move your workout clothes to a more accessible spot or place distractions out of easy reach.
  4. Monitor and Adjust: Keep track of how these changes affect your progress and make further adjustments as necessary.
Action Acceleration

Take inventory of your daily actions and identify the friction points – discerning where friction is either helping or hindering you. Regularly evaluate and adjust these friction points to optimise your environment for success.

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  • This is a fantastic post about leveraging in your everyday life. I love the increased friction of storing your remote in a drawer. My husband and I have a movie theater loveseat with two cupholders and keep the two remotes: one in each cupholder. He constantly wants the streaming remote in the cupholder closest to him, but I like it in the one closest to me! So, the love-hate relationship with the remote continues every night. Except tonight-its going into the drawer closest to me!

  • And I always thought friction was fun! F = μN – a little geek humor to start things off!

    Seriously, I loved your post on leveraging friction for better goal achievement, Stacey. The easy-to-implement tips for removing friction to build positive habits are incredibly helpful. Keeping sneakers by the door or storing unhealthy snacks out of reach are such simple yet effective strategies. Your approach makes it much easier to stay on track with goals. Thanks for sharing these valuable insights!

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