Honing New Habits In Four Easy Steps

  1. Identify and repeat behaviors that are working well for you at present.

Versus looking for things to fix about your poor or missing behaviors, try the reverse and look for things to repeat and re-apply about your positive behaviors.

For example, I, personally, get much more thinking and planning work done in the mornings.  This was an awareness of mine early in my career.  So, when I have planning or designing work to do, I get up early and schedule my planning, problem solving, designing and other computer work for mornings.  It helps me focus and concentrate for longer periods of time without becoming distracted.

This means my phone calls, colleague interactions, collaboration, meetings and physical work are scheduled for the afternoons and evenings.  This works for me because, I enjoy working with others and being with others, and they seem to be more available in the afternoons and evening than in the morning.

  1. Focus on strengthening one behavior at a time.

Don’t try to change every behavior at once.  You’ll burn out from the intensity required to stay focused on more than one behavior change at a time,

Behavioral change requires that you stay in the moment while consciously and intentionally focusing on how you are feeling, what you are doing, and the consequences or impacts of the behavior change you are undertaking.  This requires some insightful analysis on your part to determine if the behavior changes are achieving your desired outcomes.

Psychologists say that our behaviors are solidified based on the consequences achieved.  Are you satisfied with the consequences your re-applied behavior is achieving?  Only you will know.  Nobody else can tell you the answer.

So, exert some self-control and consciously focus to learn if your behavioral changes are really resulting in your desired outcomes.

  1. Identify triggers that initiate repetition of the behavior.

Trigger your awareness of the opportunity to use the new behavior by identifying times, situations, facial expressions, comments, people or events that could benefit from application of your new behavior.

For example, I identified the morning hours as the best time for me to work on mental/ cerebral projects.  So when 6:30 am came along, I consciously and intentionally sat down at my desk to work on these types of projects.  Secondly. I triggered focusing on these types of projects by listing a couple of them in my calendar as morning projects.  Together, these two triggers helped me remember and focus on applying my new behavior.

After a few weeks, I found that I automatically scheduled my mental and thinking projects for the morning and set my clock earlier to wake me so I could work on these projects.  As a consequence, I felt good about what I was accomplishing, and eventually incorporated these triggers into my daily routine.

Others use specific meetings they attend as triggers to apply and practice a new behavior such as asking more questions, or interjecting possibility thinking, or giving positive feedback, etc.  They initially trigger these behaviors by scheduling them in their calendars every time the meeting is scheduled.  Others have asked a buddy (who is also in the meeting) to remind them of their desired behavior.  One friend, wrote on a sticky note and posted it on his computer; “Turn off email notification until after 10:00 am”.  He reinforced a positive behavior that helped him focus to get important and critical work done earlier in the day.

Triggers are identified and implemented in order to remind and assure us that we practice the behavior until it becomes a habit based on the positive consequences recognized from using it.

  1. Build new habits through repetition.

If the consequences of the behavior you are focused on are positive for you, repeat them, schedule them, improve them, and discipline yourself to continue using them.

As you develop trust and confidence in yourself to reapply the behavior, you will find that you spend less time focusing on the new behavior.  It has become more comfortable and familiar because it is delivering to your expectations; and you like the outcomes of repeating the use of it.

The behavior has become a habit and requires very little maintenance to be sustained.

Congratulations!!!!!  You have honed a new habit!!

Call or email me with your success stories!!  Chad@cookconsulting.biz or 330-329-3137.

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