I’ve been thinking about change a lot lately and why it’s so hard to change the way I do things. I’ve been reminded of a couple of barriers to successful change and how to overcome them. As the saying goes “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.”
First is the fact that the current habit is comfortable, it’s a comfort zone now. Getting outside of that comfort zone is hard, and yet that’s where all learning occurs. So how to push yourself outside that zone? Make a small changes in what you do, just a bit of an adjustment and you will be doing something different. It can take up to a month of consistent behavior to really change a habit, so make it easy to stay in the new pattern and it will more quickly become your comfort zone.
I had gotten in the habit of brigning my laptop into the family room and doing research while the TV was on. This was totally inefficient and it ended up making my arm hurt due to poor positioning of the mouse. Yet I kept doing it. I had gotten comfortable with this practice. So to get out of it and make myself more efficient I banned my laptop from the family room. I now only work on it in the office where I have fewer distractions and a more comfortable work area. I get things done much more quickly and my arm doesn’t hurt nearly as much now. It’s taken about a month to really get myself into the mindset of working only in the office.
The second obstacle is accountability. If you just think about what you want to do differently you will make the change about 50% of the time. If you go one step further and write down you will improve your chances to about 66%. If you go all out and think it through, write it down and tell someone about it your will make the change about 90% of the time. This is due to accountability. When you get someone else involved in your change they will help hold you to it.
To help me keep my laptop in the office I told my husband and son that I had banned it from the family room. They both ask me why I have the laptop in the family room if I move it out of the office. Then I have to think about what I’m doing and it helps me adjust what I’m doing to stay on track. It’s been a good reminder system for me.
So start what can you do today?
- Start with something you want to do better
- Make a small tweak to what you currently do to improve
- Stick with the change until it becomes comfortable
- Tell someone else about your desire to change
Good luck and remember “The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.”