Habit Change is Hard

A funny thing happened last Friday. I felt sad when governor Cuomo did his final briefing. For three months I saved his press conference and watch it while I prepped dinner. First, thirsting to hear the “numbers” as they were going down for New York, but then just listening to him repeat the same reassuring messages over and over.  Claire Steichen, clear strategy coaching

As much work as our lockdown habits were to create, I’m finding they’re just as hard to let go of.  Which got me thinking about my clients who get frustrated about things they don’t like in their teams, but can’t find the momentum to change. Habit change is hard. So I found an article with some great insights on habit change.

I love where she starts: Love yourself into change. What if you and your team are worth the goals and dreams that you have? Yes, habit change is hard, but what if you could increase your chances of reaching those goals, AND have fun along the way?

I translated the article from “healthy eating habits” to “healthy team dynamics:”

1. Identify the habits you want to change – Could you cut the tension on your team with a knife?  Does one person struggle with decision and backtrack so it drives everyone crazy? Take time to break down the frustration into identifiable habits.
2. What are you getting out of it? – We call this “serving you.” Sometimes in what you complain about there’s a little piece of what you want. So maybe you complain about a colleague after hours, but doing that lets you avoid a difficult conversation.
3. Honor your wisdom – Like having healthy snacks around so you don’t binge, what would it be like to connect with your colleagues during low-stress times?  So your feeling for them isn’t only driven by high-stress situations where no one’s at their best.
4. Have a plan for the stress moments – Maybe it’s breathing, maybe it’s stepping away, maybe it’s telling yourself all is OK
5. Remove triggers – As you are trying to create new habits, maybe avoid the hyper-demanding client or supervisor who makes everyone feel lousy. Give yourself a little space to create the new habit and play with it.
6. Visualize yourself changing – Imagine the team doing great, collaborating and delivering on what you promised.
7. Monitor your negative self-talk – Shift “our team is a mess” to “We’ll get there. We’re all good people.”
8. Take baby steps – When I teach the Social Style, I always recommend choosing two 15 minute slots a week to practice flexing for other styles. Just because you have an insight (like, “running five miles a day is good!”) doesn’t mean you can flip a switch. You have to strengthen the muscle little by little.
9. Accept that you will falter – Someone on the team losing their cool doesn’t mean you give up.
10. Know that it takes time. It took several weeks for me to get hooked on my daily press briefings!

If there’s one thing we’re seeing these days, it’s that habit change is hard, but it is possible.  Keep the faith and take it one step at a time.


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