How to Change a Strong Habit Loop

Habit-LoopSo much of what we do is simply habit and routine that we selected because it was beneficial to us at one time. When it comes time to change a habit, we find out how powerful it has become. A well-used routine seems to have muscles, reinforced into a strong habit loop. How do habits become so strong?

The process is a three-step bio-chemical, psychological loop:

  1. A trigger event or cue occurs.
  2. There’s an automatic response (physical, mental and emotional).
  3. A reward such as dopamine provides pleasure and helps the brain decide that this loop is well-worth remembering.

Over time, the habit loop becomes increasingly automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation emerges. Read More »

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How Powerful Are Your Habits and Routines?

Habits-and-RoutinesHow much power do you have over your own habits and routines? Most of the choices we make each day feel like well-considered decisions. In reality, ingrained habits drive us to act.

Research has shown that the average person has approximately 40,000 thoughts per day, but 95%  are the same ones experienced the day before. As much as 45% of our daily actions are based on habits and routines, not newly formed decisions. I wrote about this in my previous post here. Read More »

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Great WAYPOINT Goals:
5 Ways to Change a Habit

Change-a-HabitThe best laid plans—and WAYPOINT goals—are no good if we don’t put new behaviors into play. We need to override old habits to change a habit. The problem is that although we think we’re in charge, so much of what we do is directed by our subconscious beliefs. A Duke University study says that at least 45 percent of our waking behavior is habitual. That’s a little disconcerting for anyone who has sat down and mapped out an action plan with resolve and smart steps to change for future success.

Which is why the WAYPOINT goal setting worksheet (you can see it here) asks you to think things through and mentally prepare for making change. Unfortunately, the brain is pre-programmed to conserve energy, which means it tends to take short cuts and revert to status quo habits. While the brain represents only 2 percent of our weight, it consumes 20 percent of the body’s available energy. Read More »

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How to Use WAYPOINTs for Success

WAYPOINTS-FOR-SUCCESSI thinK it matters how you set your goals, if you truly want a successful life. While the SMART goal system is good, to me it’s not good enough. I prefer setting WAYPOINTs for success in life. In my previous posts, I showed you the WAYPOINT goal setting system.

On the worksheet (you can see it here) you follow each letter in WAYPOINT to arrive at a good, solid WAYPOINT statement. Next, in a clockwise direction, answer the “So What?” challenge.

So What? Read More »

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How to Set WAYPOINT Goals

Waypoint-GoalsSometimes setting a SMART goal isn’t enough. What I’ve found in coaching scores of high functioning business people is that goals need to be genuinely relevant, engaging and personal. That’s how I came up with setting WAYPOINT goals. A WAYPOINT statement will be:

Written— You are taking the time to write down the WAYPOINT for a number of reasons. When it is written, the thing you are going to accomplish becomes real, tangible, solid and more vibrant! You are less likely to change it than if you just keep it in your head. Once it is written, you can share the statement more easily with your accountability partner or coach. Read More »

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Set Goals with WAYPOINTs

Set-Goals-WaypointsA WAYPOINT is something akin to a goal. It is different in that goals have finite end points. WAYPOINTs recognize that life goes on past the completion of one goal. You will set another WAYPOINT to take you in new and ever more satisfying directions. Getting to a WAYPOINT that you set for yourself recognizes that the journey is on-going, indeed, never ending.

Success is defined as many things. It could be good health, great relationships, a solid marriage, happy kids, and financial security to name a few. One of the things that all of these have in common is that they are not end points. There is no finish line that you cross and then move on to the next thing. For instance, you don’t one day have a solid marriage, check the box and forget about it. The bar is continually being raised, and what is satisfactory today may not be tomorrow. From the time you are born to your last day, it is a continuum. Read More »

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What Truly Matters

SMART-GoalsI’m been writing about SMART goals, Stretch goals, and different systems that work when it comes to being focused, productive and more importantly, on task for what truly matters to you. Most people are familiar with SMART criterion:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

SMARTWAY goals have additional criterion. WAY stands for goals that are Written, Aligned and Yours. The WAY was added by a colleague of mine to soften up the goal setting process.

  • Written – Goals are clearly written down in first person, as in “I will…”
  • Aligned - Goals are aligned with a purpose, a mission and with core values
  • Yours - You own these goals independent from outside influences or a desire to please others

Read More »

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Stretch Goals: Bullet Train Thinking

Stretch-GoalsSometimes SMART goals aren’t enough. Most of the time organizations innovate and grow because of stretch goals. People in all industries and businesses from small to large global corporations love working with the SMART system to ensure goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. But simply focusing on SMART criterion doesn’t necessarily translate into profits.

Workers love the SMART system because it gives them such a powerful sense of accomplishment. But SMART goals can trigger our need for closure in counterproductive ways. Crossing off goals becomes more important than asking if we’re doing the right things.

In the new Charles Duhigg book, Smarter, Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, (Random House, 2016), the author describes former GE chief Jack Welch’s trip to Japan in the 90s. Read More »

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The Inner Game of Goals:
When SMART Goals Don’t Work

Smart-GoalsJust about everyone I encounter my work with organizations is familiar with and has used some version of SMART goals. This is a mnemonic acronym for setting goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time bound

Using the SMART system makes it easier for anyone to stay on track and accomplish key success factors. There are a couple of variants but the idea is that setting specific objectives along with details for completion ensures that goals are realistic, measurable and achievable within a required time frame. When do SMART goals fail? Let’s explore that issue and see if there’s a better way to avoid goal failures. Read More »

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Build Your Inner Game:
Performance, Learning, and Enjoyment

Inner-GameI’ve been posting about the importance for leaders to develop their “inner game,” to not only achieve necessary results but to prepare for a rapidly accelerating and challenging future. Leaders must continually upgrade their expertise and coping strategies if they want to drive success in their people and companies.

However, few have time for training and development, even though they all agree it’s a priority. At most, some will squeeze in coaching sessions between travel and meetings.

I believe coaching is an imperative for all leaders, and even so, there’s another method of growing and developing as a leader that’s often overlooked: The most valuable leadership lessons are learned on the job, in real time. Providing of course, one is aware, observes and pays close attention to learning moments. This is the best way to improve a leader’s inner game. Read More »

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