For years I’ve been curious about the best ways to make changes stick. I studied and practiced Biofeedback several years ago and became fascinated by its broad applications. Premier athletes were using it to honing their performance. Over and over I witnessed people developing mastery over something by remaining dedicated to practicing the mindful desired behavioral changes. I observed that within two months the new desired changes had dropped into their conscious competence. Staying committed to practicing the mindful desired behavioral changes for six months dropped the desired new behaviors into the unconscious competence becoming a fully integrated new Habit.
This is part 3 of the 3-part series on Making Change Stick by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.It’s not rocket science. Making changes stick (or not) is not complicated. Set meaningful goals and create your pathway to success. Click To Tweet
I’ve been curious as to the best ways we can make changes stick. One of the best ways to ensure successful habit change is to be clear about your reasons and priorities. I often ask the question: “You are doing this for the sake of what?” And yet, there is often an unconscious pull to keep on doing the same things in the same way.
There’s a reason for this and it’s hard-wired because of habitual behaviors or thoughts. The brain is equipped for automaticity and economizing efforts. The way to make that work in your favor is to include brain-friendly action steps.
Here are five steps to help make changes stick:
Make small changes
If your goal is too big, break it down into smaller and easier to achieve pieces. For example, instead of 45 minutes of exercise a day, set out to do 10 minutes a day or one hour a week. This allows you to experience success and be energized to make the next small change.
Tacking your desired change to something else that is already a habit you successfully do regularly. If you log on to your computer each day, set a goal of writing for 20 minutes before opening email. Coupling a new behavior to an already embedded one helps you successfully stick to your plan.
Consistency is best
Whatever change you decide to make, choose a time of day you can commit to being consistent in focusing on that desired change. Once you let your busy schedule take over your brain, other priorities will interfere. Make your desired change a priority in your schedule.
Don’t decide, just do
Schedule your new desired behavior and don’t waver. Allowing choices or making decisions will deplete your mental energy and resolve. Simply start doing it. Once you commit to starting it becomes easier to repeat.
Celebrate and give yourself credit for whatever you accomplish. We are often judgmental of less-than-perfect efforts. The goal here is not 100%—the goal is change. So, any incremental changes in behaviors or habits need to be recognized and celebrated. If you are not acknowledging yourself with positive reinforcement and mental pats-on-the-back, you will lose enthusiasm. You may want to get a coach or a buddy to hold you accountable and celebrate your wins!
It’s not rocket science; making changes stick (or not) is not complicated. Make sure you set meaningful goals for desired change, and create your pathway to success. Expect obstacles, distractions, and setbacks. Those who succeed are those who most often get support from others, are willing to delay gratification, and are persistent.