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4 Keys to Sustaining Behavior Change

Since coaching is often about changes in behavior that will improve individual effectiveness, I talk with my clients about how they can sustain those changes after the coaching engagement ends.  Mantras can be a useful tool so I created one for this discussion:
  • Purpose– Remember why you decided to make these changes. Focus on the benefits for yourself and others.
  • Patience– Expect that you will fall back into old behaviors under stress.  Give yourself a break and ask others to do the same.
  • Practice– It takes about a year of consistent practice, feedback and accountability to sustain a behavior change.
  • Plan– Who will be your feedback and accountability partners? How will you deal with setbacks?
These four P’s are the keys to keeping up your good work.

Cake in the Car

A friend was taking a cake to a party so he drove very carefully. He accelerated slowly, made gentle turns and approached stop signs well in advance. When people started honking and yelling at him he wanted to say, “Hey! I don’t usually drive like this but I have a cake in the back seat.” He thought they would be more patient and understanding if they knew. Now when my friend sees drivers doing strange or annoying things, he tells himself there’s probably a reason — maybe they have a cake in the car or they are from out of town or they just got devastating news from the doctor.

When I heard this story I was reminded that we don’t always know what might be going on with someone in the next lane or the office down the hall. As we head into the holiday season, what would it be like if we commit to giving others the benefit of the doubt?