Confidently Change a Habit With This Strategy
Trying to change a habit is a funny thing, because the attempt to change something in our lives has within it the capacity to increase or diminish our self-confidence. If we succeed at changing our habit and meeting our new goal, our confidence is built up, much like a muscle; if we fail, our sense of ability is eroded and we feel bad. Sometimes we don’t even attempt to change a habit because deep down we know that failing has the capacity to eat away at our confidence and belief in ourselves.
When my clients are developing a new habit, I encourage them to use a strategy called Plan A, then Plan B.
It works like this: when you make a commitment to yourself to make an important change, go ahead with your original Plan A (e.g., I will dedicate four hours each Saturday morning toward clearing my in-box until all 20,000 emails are gone). At the same time, commit to a Plan B (e.g., in 30 days, if I have not reduced my in-box emails to fewer than 500, I will take a vacation day from work to stay home and clear my in-box). This way there is no guilt or self-flagellation when we do not reach our initial goal because we simply implement Plan B. It also helps encourage us to stick with Plan A if Plan B is less appealing to us.
I did not think of this brilliant idea myself. It actually came from NY Times Bestselling author Geneen Roth in her book: Women, Food and God. In it, Roth encourages readers not to diet, but says that if they must, to choose a diet plan and then a back-up diet plan which they will implement if the first does not get the intended result.
One last point on this—I am in no way encouraging a negative take on the back-up plan, where Plan B is some type of punishment or penance for not achieving the change (I shudder at the thought). Plan B should be just as viable and positive as Plan A.
Decide on something small that you would like to shift or change within the next 30 days. Make yourself a plan to accomplish it, and then make an equally viable back-up plan that you will implement at the 15-day mark if the first is not working.
And be nice!