Changing habits


Change is difficult for the vast majority of people. When I ask my students why this is so most of them will respond with just two words: “comfort zone” and they are right.

According to research we have established brain patterns for those things we routinely do and are comfortable with.

Then it follows that in order to create a new habit we would need to invest the time and effort necessary to build a new brain pattern.

And here is the crux: Time and Effort!

A prerequisite for any of this to happen is you not being satisfied with your current situation and the desire to change it for something better. We call this mindset “need of change.”

So let’s break this down a bit further using an example:

The majority of us start the working day by opening up our email. The disadvantage here is that any plans we had for the day are very likely to be superseded by the requests and demands arriving in our In Box.

But there is also an advantage and this is the trap, this is what makes it so difficult to change.

Michelle Rees in her article the “Neuroscience of Breaking Habits” calls this a reward. By diving into our email first thing our curiosity, our thirst to know what happened in the last 12 hours is sated……we are rewarded.

The trick, she continues, is to replace this behaviour with something offering a similar reward value.

In our case we ask our participants in the PEP® Program “to plan the first hour of the working day for an important Task or Activity and not your email.”

Only the first hour, that’s all. And don’t forget to turn off all your notifications for just this one hour. Yes, but…… No buts! Your company can survive without you for just one hour.

By implementing this change we start working more proactively, making progress on important activities that we had no time for previously and this in turn gives us our satisfaction and a reward. All in just one hour a day!

But developing a new brain pattern, a new habit, takes time and effort. To ensure that this becomes a success we have a number of repeat follow-up contacts with our participants over 2-3 months where we support and encourage them along this change process.

At the end of this process time and effort are replaced with routine. You have now created a new habit, a new comfort zone.

Eric Magnusson, Managing Partner PEP® worldwide-Europe

Perfect day for cycling to work.

PEP® is a registered trademark, owned and licensed by IBT Europe BV. 

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