My coaching client explained his mistake of the week. It was the same mistake as the week before. The exact same thing. And we had come up with a strategy to address it. And what did he say when I asked him if he used the strategy?
It took him under a week to forget the very thing he had found so important just seven days earlier. Of course, none of us are really that different.
What did you learn last week? Can you remember?
I bet there was something. Something you wanted to hold onto. Something important. (Maybe something I wrote.) But we forget.
Our memories do not correlate with importance.
Value does not predict retention.
Unless we make it so. I used to laugh about my colleagues who had post-its all over their monitors, reminding them of little lessons they picked up in life. But that made sense. They were ensuring that memory and importance actually connected.
Me? I still have a clean desk. And a mind like a sieve.
My client wanted to know why he didn’t do the things that would lead to his longterm success. They seem so obvious. Why did he avoid them so?
But I don’t think we avoid. I think we flow.
We flow downhill in the most comfortable, easiest groove. We follow the path of least resistance.
The question isn’t why don’t we do those new things (network, strategize, develop ourselves, diet, exercise, etc.). The question is what can we do to make it difficult not to do them.
Leo Babauta on zenhabits.net explains that the best thing to do is get really good at starting. Every day. All the time. Start 100 times. Don’t focus on spending the full hour exercising or strategizing or whatever. The full hour might be too daunting. It’s too easy to say not today and never begin. But if you spend at least 1 minute every day, you create the new routine, the new daily habit, the new path of least resistance.
Pretty soon it feels uncomfortable if you don’t engage in this new activity. The new action starts to feel like flow. And then it gets difficult to understand how you ever failed to do these things in the first place.
We often try to reduce what is oversized. Sometimes we would do better to inflate a countervailing force instead.
Ego too big? Don’t try to shrink it. Magnify your humility or appreciation instead.
Appetite too big? Increase your exercise or carrot intake.
Ambitions too big? Spend more time volunteering.
Sometimes a totally different approach is much stronger than fighting against that strongest force that already holds sway within you.
In my Keep the Change workshop I make the claim that participants can change any habit or behavior – whether health, personal, professional, leadership, parenting, etc. – if they are willing to dedicate 17 minutes and 21 seconds per week to that task. This week I’ll break down the 17:21 so you can make and keep the change you want. (Read part 1 and part 2.)
What gets measured gets done. We pay more attention. We try harder. We care more when we are measured.
So measure your progress. Get a notebook or journal specifically for your change. Once per day write in your journal for 1 minute. That’s it – 60 seconds of writing time. Set a timer. This is not a huge commitment.
For 60 seconds write down how you did that day. Write down ideas you have for new strategies or observations on how your current strategies worked. For 60 seconds write down anything and everything you can about the change you are trying to make.
When the timer rings, stop writing. That’s it. One minute every day. Seven minutes for the week. Along with the 10 minutes and 21 seconds from part 1 and part 2, that takes us to our full allotment of 17:21 for the week.
Follow these simple steps. Dedicate 17 minutes and 21 seconds per week to your goal, and you might find that you’re keeping the change you’ve always wanted in your life.
In my Keep the Change workshop I make the claim that participants can change any habit or behavior – whether health, personal, professional, leadership, parenting, etc. – if they are willing to dedicate 17 minutes and 21 seconds per week to that task. This week I’ll break down the 17:21 so you can make and keep the change you want. (Read part 1.)
Support is invaluable. Alcoholics Anonymous and Weight Watchers have long used their members to support one another. And you can engage your own supporter for your change.
Find a friend, colleague, or family member who is also motivated to make a change and form an accountability partnership. Agree to speak once per week for ten minutes. Each of you gets 5 minutes to answer these questions:
- What was your goal last week?
- How did you do?
- What strategies did you use that helped?
- What is your goal for next week?
- What new strategies will you try?
Keep it quick. Stick to your five minutes. And support and encourage each other. Just knowing you have that check in will increase your motivation to make good on your goal.
That call takes 10 minutes. Add the 21 seconds from part 1 of this series and we have used 10:21 so far. Part 3 will show you how the final 7 minutes is used.
In my Keep the Change workshop I make the claim that participants can change any habit or behavior – whether health, personal, professional, leadership, parenting, etc. – if they are willing to dedicate 17 minutes and 21 seconds per week to that task. This week I’ll break down the 17:21 so you can make and keep the change you want.
Awareness is key to change. You need to know what you are changing and why. So set a goal that is specific and measurable.
Don’t set a goal to exercise more. Set a goal to workout 4 times per week.
Don’t try to get angry less often. Set a goal to have no more than 2 angry reactions each week.
Whatever the change, make the goal a one week objective and write it down. Then answer the question, “How will my life be better if I achieve this goal?” Come up with 20 answers to this question. Then write down the top 3-5 answers on the same paper or card or post-it where you wrote down your goal.
Now here’s the important part. Read that goal and the benefits every single day. This will keep the change and the value of the change top of mind for you. It probably takes about 3 seconds for you to read it. Three seconds, seven days per week. That’s 21 seconds.
My next blog post will explain where the next 10 minutes goes on your journey to change.
Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, My Stroke of Insight, is brilliant, fascinating, enthralling, and filled with insights to help anyone find greater peace and compassion in their lives. The next few blogs will share some of the insights I gained from this story about a brain scientist experiencing and recovering from a stroke.
Insight #5 – You can train your brain.
“Before the stroke, I believed I was a product of this brain and that I had minimal say about how I felt or what I thought. Since the hemorrhage, my eyes have been opened to how much choice I actually have about what goes on between my ears.”
Every day your brain continues to develop, to reinforce old patterns and/or to establish new ones.
What do you do on a daily basis to train your brain to engage in healthy patterns?