Write, Think, Reflect: 3 Steps to Turn Your Goal Behaviors into Habits

New behaviors take practice. Even your mail carrier needs practice. Changing behaviors can be more challenging than adopting new ones, but it can be done! New lessons will present themselves as you grow as a person. It is always worth your time to strive for better habits and goals. When building any new behavior, consider these three steps to solidify that habit in your wheelhouse.

1. Write down your intention and the behaviors you will take.

A study by Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University showed that 70% of participants who wrote down their goals reported success, as opposed to only 35% who kept their goals to themselves. It’s important not only to state your goal, such as being healthy, but to list the actionable steps you’ll take, so you have physical evidence to reflect on when you act on your goals. Use SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Here’s a link to SMART Goals Worksheet.

2. Stage all the steps of the behavior.

Tonight, I had an audition. I had the intention to act differently than I have in the past. I wanted to own the room. I’d had multiple discussions with colleagues and coaches about making it an easy choice for the directors: “Tell them who you are and why they should cast you.” So I went in with the new intention of knowing, they want me, rather than hoping they’ll want me. I had done the initial prep. My new introduction would list all the pieces that I had prepared. This way they would be guided through the experience. A recent conversation with some theater girlfriends had revealed a lot of frustration about not being asked to perform a monologue or second piece they had worked very hard on. I felt I had solved this problem. I felt confident in my ability to succeed.

In the moment, however, I realized that I had practiced the climax of the interaction, but not the entrance, transitions and exits. I lacked the steps necessary to get me to where I felt most confident. For starters, there were stairs to get on stage to the audition spot. I had not practiced going up stairs in my heals recently. It was not the confident entrance I had hoped for. Key word here, hope. Don’t hope- practice and know! My introduction went well, however my transition to my second piece which I was ready to sing, was not. I had neglected to direct the accompanist in the second piece and there was this awkward silence between me and the artistic director while I waited for the normal interaction which was them asking me to sing my second piece. I had set it up different, so I wouldn’t need them to ask me. Needless to say, you have to practice each step of the new behavior not just the “important” moments. My exit felt defeated, not confident. It did not go how I’d planned.  You’ll need to considered that outcome as well. Create steps to get back to the plan when you fall off the wagon.

It’s important to have a graceful exit plan, as well as consider the different outcomes that may occur. How are you going to get back on track when you don’t succeed?

3. Reflect, rewrite and react.

Perhaps the motivation you used doesn’t fit with the method. Take some time to think about why that is. Then, rewrite your intention and how you’ll reflect that with the modified behavior. React by returning to your goal behavior. Or as the shampoo bottles say, rinse and repeat.

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