So much of our goal achievement hinges on our own personal behaviours. This led me to thinking about the patterns we follow day after day and how hard they are to break. To break a pattern, it’s the opening act that needs to be tripped up. This is easier than we think, if we plan and practice a new opener.
In coaching today, I worked for over an hour with someone on their behavioural impression. This was a set of actions that needed to be changed in order to make the desired impression to achieve the needed result. This was truly as simple as starting an introduction with an open chest and square shoulders, eye contact and a clear smile. There was nothing wrong with the words. But the words were lost in unspoken behaviours nested in closed body-language and lack of physical engagement. This was preventing this individual from achieving his goals.
A lot of athletic coaching is broken down into parts of the movement. Business solutions are broken down into parts of the problem. Patterns, need to be broken from the first action. The goal is not to try to change an existing pattern but instead to form a completely new pattern. When we start an existing pattern, we naturally follow-through with the pattern execution. Make it easy to change by giving yourself a break on trying to rewrite a pattern. That’s really hard.
Planned behavioural impressions can apply to any area of your life where you have an action role. The key is to identify the goal you want to achieve and recognize the current pattern of behaviour that is stopping you from achieving the goal. The next step is to rewrite the opening act so that next time the circumstance presents itself, you have a newly planned behavioural impression you will make on the situation. When you execute this new opening act, you have will have to make more conscious decisions as to what to do next because there is no established pattern that follows this new behaviour.
*Imagine* you are trying to get out of the pattern of hitting your snooze button each morning. Your normal pattern is to roll-over and push the button without really thinking about it. When you’ve been doing this for years, it’s an unconscious pattern (you’re still half-asleep) and it’s very hard to break. It’s also very frustrating and elicits many feelings of failure. A planned new behavioural impression on this situation would be to move your alarm clock to a place where you have to get out of bed and walk 5 steps to turn it off. This will establish a brand new opening act where you will be removed from your usual pattern and there is no existing pattern of what comes next when you arrive at your alarm clock on your feet. However, if you choose to hit snooze and go back to bed, you’ll make a new pattern and you’ll need to plan that supports a new behavioural impression for that situation (multiple alarms in different rooms of the house, a sprinkler set on a timer in your bedroom…).
Not every situation is as easy as moving your alarm clock. The objective is to carefully review your goals and identify what patterns are interrupting your progress. Then, interrupt the patterns by creating brand new ones. A planned behavioural impression does require planning. You need to understand the working parts of the situation and what the very first action is that you take to initiate the no-good pattern. Once you’ve got that, select a new first-response and make a new behavioural impression on the situation. You may to reorganize things in your home, your workplace, which way you turn out of your driveway in the morning or even what ‘new-mail’ settings you have for your email. The key is to plan these moves so that you don’t allow yourself to start the pattern. Create a new pattern that you can be in total control of. Take control and move towards your goals.
Here’s your 5 step plan:
- Write down the big goal you are currently working on
- Identify the specific behaviour patterns that are interrupting your progress
- Write down the first action you take that triggers the undesired pattern
- Choose a replacement action you will deliberately take instead of the current pattern opener
- Practice this specific action while you are not in the situation in which you need it. Make sure you have the skill to do this new action so that you are confident that when you need it, you’re ready.
Being ready to take on your tough situations with a planned behavioural impression will ensure that you master the highest risk moments in your day by immediately opting to not even start the hazardous patterns. Take control. Make an impression. Achieve your goals.