As mentioned, over the past two years I’ve been researching how people change. That research indicates that there are six major components that help people achieve purposeful change.
In reviewing my own lapsed change goal of writing five pages a week, I found that I had only leveraged two of those six components. Doing the math, that means that I was not doing four of the six. Those were:
1. Writing was not an emotionally driven goal – it was a rational goal
2. I had not established a habit around writing
3. I had not changed my environment to help facilitate my writing
4. I did not have social support network set up to help me
Last week I identified two of those six as easy fixes, one as moderately easy and one as very difficult. Here is my work to date on those:
My easy fixes (weren’t so easy):
4. Social support network. In response to this, I talked to my wife and asked her to help me on this by holding me accountable. She refused.
Yes, that’s right, she said, “no.”
I was slightly shocked, then I was mad and then I was feeling a bit betrayed. This was my life partner who is supportive of me in every way and she is telling me that she won’t help me? What’s up with that?
Of course she gave me a very insightful reason why she refused and one that I had not fully thought through – she didn’t want to be the “nag.”
She said that if she was the one holding me responsible, she would just become the nagging wife. That the intended outcome of me feeling obligated to meet my goals, would instead be replaced with my feeling like she was pestering me and I would eventually just tune her out.
Of course, she was right. That is what would have happened and then I would have been resentful and still not achieved my goal.
On the other hand, she said she could be my “cheerleader” and offer me emotional support and encouragement, she just could not be the “referee” (see here for more detail on different support roles).
So I have her recruited as a cheerleader – but still have not found someone to be my referee to hold me accountable. Which is the support role that I feel I really need. I’ve been thinking through my list of friends and acquaintances and am feeling that this decision is both harder and more important than I originally thought. I am contemplating a couple people, but have not yet asked them.
3. Changing my writing environment. I looked at how I could set up a place or use a system to help in this. One thing that I realized is that I need to be able to access my research on change as I’m writing about it. This is not the type of writing I can do sitting on my couch with a pad of paper and pen. That being said, I needed to figure out a way to stop the distractions that I have when I’m on my work computer.
First I downloaded RescueTime for my computer. This is an app that collects my computer habits and tracks when / where I’m spending my time (web sites, e-mail, spreadsheets, PPTs, etc…) and provides me with a report on this. I can also use this to set timers and alerts if I know I’m spending too much time on things. This helps ensure that I am not interrupted and that I keep to the schedule that I’ve set for myself.
Second, although not much different, I have started to shift my computer to a different part of my desk. This changes my view and to some degree reminds me that I’m in writing mode – not work mode. So far, it has seemed to help.
My moderate fix:
2. Establishing my writing habit. This one is difficult to assess at this point. I was on vacation from last Friday – Tuesday in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (and sick as well). Wednesday was Rotary in the morning when I’m not planning on writing so I have an N of 1 – today. I did great. I moved by computer, had my rescue time timer on, and wrote for about 45 minutes.
The real test is tomorrow and Saturday and then next week (when I’m on the road Sunday – Tuesday and it will be easy to justify not doing it).
My hard fix:
I believe the hardest part of this journey is to find that emotional trigger that will help keep me focused and motivated when things get tough. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I can list all the great reasons I have for writing this book and even go so far as to feel that I’m the right person to do this. I have reviewed all of the positives and negatives of doing this and the positives greatly outweigh the cons. I’ve tried to visualize what it will be like having the book written and published. I’ve thought about what that means for me as an individual. All of that however still has not hit me at a gut level yet.
I’m working on it and will continue to try new ideas on this.
From the research, I knew that this was the hardest, most unpredictable component of the six steps. I realize just how right that assessment was.
Still working on it…
I’m still working at this. I’m still reviewing the data and talking with people about their change. If this was easy, there wouldn’t be a need for this book. But change is not easy. Its hard. So I’ll keep trying to figure it out and provide real insight for people. I’m hoping insight from my own journey can help in that process.
As always, any insight that you may have would be appreciated. Leave a comment in the comment section or contact me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org)