Friday, August 28, 2015

Lagging on Commitment to Change?

Five Tips to Help You Stay Focused
  1. Be an objective observer of yourself. Habits are only patterns of behavior. They're not good or bad. If you were an experienced birdwatcher you'd want to identify particular birds, know about their habitat, plumage,  shapes. You would not be looking through binoculars and thinking, "Oh no! Those swallows aren't migrating in a perfect V!" A bird is a bird, a pattern is a pattern. Let go of judging yourself. You need to know a pattern before you can change it.
  2. Instead of trying to stop being something you don't want to be (whew! think of all the wasted energy THAT takes), get to know your pattern: How often does it show up? What triggers it? What does it look like? How long does it last? Then what? You'll know you've got it when you can teach someone else exactly how you do it.
  3. When the patterned behavior shows up, stay WITH it. Let's say you have a fiery temper and you promised yourself you'd keep it in check. The next time it gets triggered, notice where in your body you feel the anger and exaggerate that physical sensation ("It's like I'm about to fly apart"). Continue exaggerating the physical sensation until you know the label you've given it is an exact fit ("No, it's like my guts are being torn apart by rabid dogs!"). By the way, by this time, your anger's lessened and you don't have to act on it.
  4. Once you've gotten a grip on your pattern, do it consciously but with one small change. Humor helps. Gail, for example, ate fast while standing and tried to lose 10 lbs. by telling herself to "SLOOOW down!" That didn't work. When challenged to eat fast consciously but with a small change, she "clocked her mileage," increasing her speed from 55 mph to 65 mph and then back down to 25 mph. To her surprise she lost 3 lbs. in two weeks without any conscious effort to diet.
  5. It's quite natural to resist change. Unfortunately we tend to beat ourselves up when we don't follow through. All that energy you've wasted criticizing yourself just feeds the old pattern. Instead, if you find yourself procrastinating, feeling anxious, losing hope, or being distracted from your goal, recognize these as signs you've challenged a deeply embedded pattern, which means you're on the right path. Go through the first four steps again, and remember: If something you've tried hasn't worked, do something different!
More ideas like these in Out of the Box Self-Coaching Workbook


Mary Kintner said...

The title should read Lagging on Commitment to Change. When I finished reading the 5 i was confused until i reread it and realized the title was off. Goals are often fixed points we try to achieve, not moving goal posts. BTW, you are very prolific and insightful generally on your blog posts, I'm sure you have really helped many folk

Mary Bast said...

Thanks Mary (original title was "Lagging on Commitment to Goals"). I, too, like "change" better than "goals" (which fit the original purpose of the post, but wasn't as accurate for a general article about change).