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Monday, June 18, 2007


When a goal requires doing something on a daily basis, many people face a struggle.



Its not that they are unmotivated to achieve their goal.  Its that they have no strategy for turning a new daily task into an accustomed habit.



There are a number of factors at play here but the biggest is all-or-nothing thinking.  It happens when you set a specific parameter for your habit (for example, "exercise for 30 minutes three times each week", or meditate for 60 minutes every day", or "create a 500-word entry in my on-line coaching blog twice each week").



Parameters are great:  they keep you focused on your task, allow you to measure benchmarks, hold you accountable to expectations you set for yourself.  But they can be sabotaged through all-or-nothing thinking.  Consider the example of exercising for 30 minutes three times each week.  If you find yourself choosing to stay on the coach and not exercise because you can't exercise the full 30 minutes then you may be caught up in all-or-nothing-ness. 



They way to snap out out of it is to ditch the time frame. 



Reframe your plan:  "I will exercise three times each week whether its for 1 minute or 30 minutes."



Once you get into the "habit" then worry about the time frame.

I struggled for years to maintain a daily mediation practice.  I go on a retreat once each year and after each retreat my daily practice would be "strong," sitting each morning and evening. Then it would start to fizzle out and eventually I would start thinking "If I can't do the whole hour, why bother."  I would talk about this with teachers on retreats I sat and got similar advice:  be diligent, be committed, etc.



Then I met Pat Coffey who co-led a Men's Retreat at IMS in Barre Massachusetts.  Pat said, "Don't worry about the time.  Tell yourself each day that you will just assume the position -- even if it means you sit down and then get right back up.  If you sit for 30 seconds that's fine.  If you sit for 30 minutes that's fine.  No expectations.  Just sit and see."

So successful was this advice in my practice that I have integrated into my coaching helping people to find success in everything from exercising to stopping cigarette smoking.  We create this mindset of what success has to be and if what we end up with doesn't match perfectly we want to throw it all away.



We forget how hard change is and we forget to recognize and celebrate the huge success of changing the course of our life -- a life charged with significant powerful momentum -- even one tenth of one degree.  We don't consider the impact of a one tenth of one degree change in course over time:  you will end up hundreds of miles from where you were originally headed.



©2007 True Azimuth, LLC
Business Coaching, Relationship Coaching, Life Coaching



1 comments:

Bert Munger said...

Staying on the coach sounds a lot more fun than staying on the couch.
This is a great idea!! I'm going to start using it tomorrow, err----today!