Not everyone is wired the same. We think differently, have different perspectives and have different ways we go about doing things. When it comes to changing habits, not everyone does it the same way. The way the works for me might not work for you. Finding the right method is key to successful habit change.
While we are all different, there are patterns and similarities. These can be grouped into four basic categories: Switch Flippers, Gold Stars, Paced Adapters, and Methodical Analyzers.
Some people decide there is a habit they want to add to their lives, or one to stop. They make the decision and seem to just flip a switch and start, or stop. One day it’s off, next day it’s on. These are the Switch Flippers. These are the people who decide to stop eating fast food and then stop totally and completely. They never walk into another fast food restaurant the rest of their lives. Decide. Execute. Done.
Switch Flippers tend to put too much on their plate too fast. When it comes to habit change, pick one, allow adequate time for the new activity to become a real habit, or the old activity no longer occurs. Then, choose the next habit.
“Yeah, a gold star for me!” Some people are wired for rewards and recognitions, it fuels them. This isn’t being conceited, egotistical or self-aggrandizing. The reward/recognition can come from others and it can come from oneself. It can be giving yourself a gold start – a literal gold star, stick it on the calendar, refrigerator, bathroom mirror, wherever.
The Gold Star type is less structured than the other types. Allow for some flexibility. The desired habit change could look like something like this:
I will read for a total of three hours this week and when I have accomplished this, I will give myself a gold star. When I get to three gold stars, I will treat myself to a movie. (Notice, this is not X minutes per day for Y days.)
Just a word of caution here, this type tends to wait to the last minute. Instead, front load your effort.
Another type is the Paced Adapter. These people do well with making small changes over a longer period of time. They are creatures of habit. Once a habit gets established, changing it is like trying to steer a freight train. If it’s a positive habit, great! But, if it’s a negative habit, not so good.
Small bites is the key here. Let’s use exercise as an example. Start easy and small. If the goal is to walk/run three miles per day, four days per week, start by going a quarter mile twice in one week. The next week, go a half mile two days. The next week, go a half mile three days, and so on, building gradually. As time goes on, the habit will gain momentum and will become a freight train plowing through anything that gets in its way.
Paced Adapters will benefit from having a “habit” friend, someone who is making the same change. Team up with a friend or two. This type likes to build strong social bonds and can use that to facilitate habit change. This also helps when the new habit gets derailed, or the old habit creeps back in. Having someone to talk to helps.
The fourth type is the Methodical Analyzer. This person benefits from thinking through and planning the entire process. They make backup plans for when things go awry, and backup plans for the backup plans. Methodical Analyzers are very long range in their thinking and goal setting. They have the ability to stick with plans for projects that take many years to complete.
Tracking is powerful a tool for Methodical Analyzers. Each day’s steps and tasks can be checked off, an important part of the process for this type. Keep in mind habit change is fluid, not fixed. Some flexibility in the plan might need to happen.
Try different methods and see which works for you. It might be a combination.
To find out more about your specific type, email me at [email protected]