May 24, 2016
Stage Five: Practical Maintenance
Once we have taken the leap and implemented the change, it is wise to have a plan in place for sticking to it. After the initial excitement and momentum wear off, it can be easy to lose steam. We’ve all had the experience of diving into something full-tilt, only to burn-out, lose faith, or get impatient enough to quit. Even if that has been our pattern in the past, it can be interrupted.
So, once we decide that we want to make a change lasting, the following five practices help in sticking to our guns. It’s worth it.
The Five Ways that Change Sticks
- Have a dedicated “Goals Notebook”. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. But, it is wise to make it exclusively for your goals. In it, you can take notes, journal, or make a log of your activity. However, the single most important action to take with your Goals Notebook is to write down the change or goal every day. Don’t just look at it, actually write it down on the paper with a pen. The very act of writing itself helps solidify the idea and the intent. Writing by hand (not typing) activates a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS), which helps ideas crystalize by acting as a filter to what should and should not be focused on. By activating the RAS with the same goal, day after day, we are telling our brains, “This is important. Help me focus on this.”
- Take action on your goal every day. Not some days. Not on weekends or every other day. Day. To ensure that this happens, it is wise to schedule the change, write it down on a calendar (time/place), and make a concrete plan around it. When your mind is aware in advance of a change or new habit, it begins to anticipate it and prepare for it. If you plan on simply taking action when you “have time” or when you “feel like it”, you won’t do it. And, if you do do it, you won’t be at your best—waiting until you have time, means that you are generally giving your goal the “scraps” of your schedule. It means, essentially, prioritizing everything else before your goal before taking action toward change. Schedule it, prepare for it, commit to it. Do it.
- Measure it. Ask yourself at the end of the day, “How did I do today?” And, “What action did I take?” and “Where can I improve tomorrow?” Then, take a moment to write it down. This reflection, too, activates your RAS, which will help crystalize the change, action, and strategy.
- Share it. This may feel awkward at first, but try it. Tell everyone around you about the change that you are making. Momentum and accountability can come from your social environment and it is a great (and time-tested) way of sticking with it. It creates a system of reinforcement that will chirp-up when it’s needed the most.
- Get a coach or a comrade. Find someone who is not connected to you socially, someone whom you can call and get outside perspective. Social media is a great tool for this. Ask someone to check in with you each day on your progress.
(This section is modeled after Brendon Burchard’s video titled “How To Make Changes Stick”)
Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.
Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com
His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world. He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Transformation Coach.
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