We forget how hard adult behavior change really is.
We become accustomed to certain things in our lives each day, some multiple times per day. We’re used to the breads, the chips, the Bud Light, the ubiquitous news, sugar everywhere we look. These things surround us and even help comprise who we are. It is no wonder they’re so difficult to stop doing.
What was the last bad habit you quit? Months ago, a friend quit drinking cold turkey. One day, she was simply done with it. There was no rock bottom. There was no real drama. She’d just had it. While not everyone thinks they can quit “cold” in this capacity, we’ve likely done it before, just within different contexts. The difficulty is acknowledging the context shift and remembering our discipline transfers. There was a level of difficulty for her to hold the line to stop drinking because she was still surrounded by the temptation, whether at the bar, whether at restaurants, whether at friends’ houses. Now, it isn’t even a temptation for her to be around new bottle of Goose.
Executive Coach Marshall Goldsmith talks about helping transform business executives from jerks to more considerate, compassionate people. This is no easy task for these people often think what got them to where they are is precisely what will get the to the next level, typically the CEO spot. So, they think if they keep on being a jerk and hitting the numbers and knocking the quarter out of the park while keeping everyone around them on really tight leashes, the top job will be theirs. That’s where Goldsmith typically has to start. These people are already wildly successful. His goal is to help them be less jerky.
And in order to do that, the coaching subject has to be willing to change and accept responsibility for his behavior of stomping on people to get what he wants. It is important to note that if the coaching subject cannot or will not accept responsibility for change, for the collateral damage he’s done to people so far surrounding him, Goldsmith cannot help him and does not accept the engagement. They have to want the change in order to effect it. Here’s the true sign of how hard adult behavior change is: some refuse to change even if their career depends upon it. As Goldsmith states, the key to a successful coaching engagement is not the coach. It is the coaching subject. If they are not open to changing, then the whole exercise is for naught.
January is the season for quitting bad things and developing new, improved habits. Only quitting carbs is hard. Quitting beer is hard. Quitting coffee is really hard. Quitting social media is hard. Quitting the news is hard. Quitting sugar is really hard. The best way to start — and keep up the momentum — is to not have them around the house in the first place. Find a community of like-minded people who share in your new goals, in your new direction, and in what you set out to accomplish. Get some accountability going to cement your goals with an accountability buddy or coach or trainer. Try not to beat yourself up when you stumble. Everybody stumbles. The question is do you re-commit to your goals and direction and strive to do better?
The example is everything.
We forget we’re on public display. People judge us / look up to us / look down their nose at us / watch what we do daily. Especially children. We deny this at our own peril. Therefore, the example is everything. You may not think you’re much of an example, and you’re right. You may think you’re a shining example of what to do & how to behave, and you’re right. Yes, what we say is important. But what we do and what we stand for and what we model is everything.