How many times have you taken some training, and 3 weeks later forgotten almost everything you learned, and failed to make any permanent changes to your behaviour … or results?
Don’t worry: that’s normal.
It’s the great problem of personal improvement: we often KNOW what we need to be doing, but we so often fail to do it.
For example: we all know it’s a good idea to eat well, exercise and get a good night’s sleep in order to be healthy, but those treats are so tempting, it’s too cold and rainy to exercise and a new series of ‘The Crown’ has just been released on Netflix …
When I was teaching time management and personal effectiveness, as a Franklin Covey trainer and coach, the most common questions people used to ask were something like:
‘Yes, Guy, I can see this all makes sense and it would be amazing if we could change our habits and do it … but it’s so hard to change and to actually do this stuff’
To which there are two responses:
The first, the glib, but true, emotional response:
- ‘That’s great news: because it isn’t easy, very few people are doing it, and so, if you can do it, you’ll quickly excel and rise above your competitors!’
Whist this is true, it didn’t always assuage their worries, so we moved onto the second response: how to get these ‘difficult’ things done, and turn them in to new and better habits going forward.
- And the key to this is: small steps repeated continually.
Why do small steps work so well?
There are 3 reasons:
- 95% of our actions are controlled by our subconscious brain. This brain was hard wired between the ages of 0 – 6. Now you may have had an amazingly enlightened set of parents and a hugely empowering childhood … or you may not. Either way, what you were told from ages 0 – 6 is hard wired into your subconscious … and dictates your actions every day, whether you like it or know it … or not! (This is why habits are so hard to change, and we so often repeat behaviours that get us into a fix!!)
- There are two ways to change these subconscious beliefs: firstly, though hypnosis, or other similar mind-altering activities: secondly, by repetition of activities over the long term.
- When we try and change a habit, or take an action that the subconscious disagrees with, we meet massive resistance: the brain goes into the ‘fight or flight’ response, and we end up with frustration and problems. The only way to avoid this is to take very small actions, that ‘tiptoe round’ the fight or flight response, and enable us to actually make changes that change our behaviour (and therefore our results) for the long term.
Small actions are the key : it’s ‘Go the extra inch’ for us!
Ok, that’s fine … but then they may ask:
- ‘What small steps can we take?’
You can make up your mind for yourself on what small steps will work best for you, and what ones to take first, but, if you ask my advice, I’d tell you that ONE SMALL STEP will help you more than any other.
A ‘weekly plan’.
My goodness that sounds boring!
Why is a weekly plan such a good idea: after all, I’ve got through my life Ok so far without one?
Well, here’s the answer to those questions:
- If you’re 100% happy with your current situation, happiness and finances and see no room for improvement, I agree with you: there’s no need to bother.
- But if you genuinely WANT to make some improvements in various areas of your life and you’re finding it really hard to make progress (as discussed above), then a weekly plan may very well help you.
A weekly plan gives you 10 minutes every week to do 3 key things that, when done, influence EVERYTHING ELSE in the week.
- Stopping and considering what roles are most important to you
- Thinking of and committing to ONE small step in each of these roles (which you wouldn’t do if you hadn’t slowed down to do this)
- Scheduling in each commitment into your time plan for the following week (so it gets done)
Research has shown that this ONE small activity can have more influence on your effectiveness and success than any other. It’s 10 minutes that positively influences the other 10,000 minutes in your week.
Remember: we all know ways we can act more effectively, that’s NOT the problem.
The problem is actually acting in those ways.
And continuing to do so each week!
And the ability to discipline yourself to do this literally separates the winners in life from the losers.
So just remember:
It ain’t rocket science, but it also ain’t easy. Commit to the weekly plan and the rest will follow … inch by inch.
In our latest podcast, we examine this idea in a bit more detail.
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