"Consider, for example, the difficulty that most people having in sticking to abstract goals like 'I intend to lose weight' or 'I plan to finish this article before the deadline.' Nice thoughts, but not formulated in terms that your ancestral, reflexive brain might understand. The work-around? Translate those abstract goals into a form your ancestral systems -- which traffic largely in dumb reflexes -- can understand: if-then. If you find yourself in a particular situation, then take a specific action: 'If I see French fries, then I will avoid them.' As Peter Gollwitzer, my colleague in New York University's department of psychology, has shown, even simple changes like these can markedly increase the chances of success."