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Creating high performance: Making change stick

Updated: Jun 28

It’s not easy to change behaviour and develop new habits. Even when we know that change is right for us. How many of us try to change our diet, eat less, eat better, and exercise more? We often start well trying to improve our behaviour – we know what we must do, we know why we need to do it, but often our motivation and desire to change wavers and we fail to adopt the new behaviours.

But we can change behaviour by keeping our motivation constant. Performance Coaching provides us with constant motivation in creating new habits to ensure high performance and success.

Maintaining our motivation can be hard. And anything that’s difficult can burn up the emotional and psychological resources we need to make lasting change. The good news is that we can acknowledge that difficulty and still create new habits to make ourselves more focused, productive and successful.

Here’s how Performance Coaching works:

1. Pick just one thing

Don't try to change several things at once. Pick one thing and give it all of your attention. Start with one thing that is aligned to your values and core drivers. What is truly important to you; in your heart, what feels right? Is your focus aligned to this, is the thing you want to achieve aligned to this? Focus on the benefits and the outcomes that this will give you and check-in with those benefits daily. Keep reminding yourself of these benefits by breaking them down into daily and weekly steps that allow you to see progress. We need that positive feedback that we are doing it to help maintain our motivation.

2. Cherish the routine

Sometimes, we hate to think of ourselves as bound to or by routine. We aspire to be free spirits. But routine provides something exceptionally valuable when trying to bring about change in your life. Routine provides consistency, a sense of purpose and a core feeling of security. These are important feelings that can reinforce motivation and deliver outcomes and results. When you can recognise the results, you’ll feel the benefit of positive self-feedback and a sense of achievement. We can still be a free spirit and use our freedom and autonomy to choose a routine. Feel empowered to choose a routine that will give you a daily positive boost and sense of achievement as this is how you can build a habit. Don't stop and miss a day. You might think that you will go back to it a few days later, but you will lose momentum and commitment. Also, you may feel guilty for not doing it, and this negative feeling becomes a barrier to doing it. To avoid negative feelings, you avoid thinking about and therefore doing the thing you identified as a goal. So, stay with the positive and what doing this new activity gives you. Do it every day and be consistent in doing it every day. The key to high-performance behaviours and high-performance teams is consistency.

3. Have fun

While there will be a natural sense of achievement and satisfaction at sticking to a plan and doing something consistently and achieving your daily goals, sometimes we also need an extra reward to give us a boost. Make new habits fun by planning rewards for being consistent and for achieving your targets. Rewards should not undermine the activities that you have been working on – find creative ways to make things fun. It is essential to put some time into planning how you can make it a fun experience. Sometimes this might mean getting others involved in your new activity – so, for example, if your new habit is running or exercising, then get a running buddy. This will be more fun, and it will create a sense of team and being in it together, which builds a shared commitment to the goals while spending time with a good friend or colleague. Find ways that make it fun as it will significantly increase your commitment to doing it.

4. Think about 30 days

The challenge of doing something for a lifetime can seem overwhelming and daunting. But how about just thirty days? When starting something new, commit to doing it for one month. Follow rule number 1 and be consistent and do it every day for a month. This makes the goal time-bound and focused. You can see a definite endpoint, and you have a measurable target to work towards. It makes it psychologically easier to commit to and to accept. If you think 30 days is too much, then use a two-week rule and work on that basis (you might find that as the end of 30 days approaches, you’re ready to commit to it for another 30!) Get the balance right for you so that you maintain energy and commitment.

5. Create the space for success

We often decide we are going to do something new and then expect it fit into our busy schedule. We must create space for the new activity, or it simply won't happen. We will deprioritise it and focus on the things we are already doing. If your new goal is important, it is aligned to your core values, and it is what you want in your heart, then ensure you make changes that create the time for you to achieve that goal. Create time by stopping something else. Figure out which bad habit will cease to create space for the new activity. Be clear about what your priority is and what it isn't. Reduce time or stop spending time on things that are not a priority, and that take you away from your goal.

6. Reframe your self-talk

Don’t underestimate the power of self-talk. Negative self-talk can stop us in our tracks, lead to procrastination, growing self-doubt and stop us from changing. Equally, positive self-talk and affirmations can unlock our drive and commitment to change. Become aware of our negative self-talk and catch those thoughts as they form and learn to reframe them. If you catch yourself being negative about your new habit, stop yourself by using the word but - "This is hard work, but I can do it, and I have been doing it for three weeks." Reframe your thoughts to become positive affirmations that will help you remain focused on your goal. Positive self-talk helps us to acknowledge some of the challenges and difficulties while also keeping them framed in our zone of what is achievable and possible, while continually moving us forward.Be clear about why you are doing this. Think about what this means to you and what it will give you. Ensure you focus on the positive benefits that it will bring you. These need to be broken down into intermediate achievements as well as the longer-term outcomes. Set clear, achievable targets for each week and, if possible, each day. This will provide a great sense of achievement and give you a renewing energy boost, which will support your motivation and consistently grow your motivation. Recognise that new energy and its link to your motivation and use this to help you stick with your new habit. Tap into that motivation every day and remember that you are doing this for you!

7. Set reminders and milestones

Put critical milestones in your diary - seeing that you have reached a milestone will give you a significant boost and keep you on track. It also reminds you to celebrate your achievement and to have fun. We sometimes get so focused on doing the activity that we forget to reward ourselves. Set reminders and plan the fun things too. Put them in your diary as that will serve as another positive reward and reinforcer for the new habits.

8. Think about what you could lose

Sometimes, it can be helpful to think about some of the negative consequences of not achieving a goal. Avoiding something negative can be an equally powerful motivator, so being aware of what we could lose and the associated pain that this could bring is important. In coaching and personal development, people often talk about creating inspiring goals that we want to move towards and achieve. This is really important as it can be very motivating for most people, but being aware of the negative consequences can provide a powerful motivation to stick with the new habit.

9. Ditch the ‘should’

Take on a new habit because you believe it’s right for you. If you are doing it because you think you ‘should’ do it, you may be responding to someone else's perspective or view of your life. Sometimes someone else’s perspective can be helpful and can provide insight. Sometimes people make suggestions that chime and resonate powerfully with you. However, if it doesn't resonate and it doesn't feel right for you, revisit what you want to do and what you want to achieve. This brings us full circle and starting with being focused on what you want to achieve and ensuring this is aligned to your values. It is necessary to build a habit that will help you achieve your goals, not take you towards someone else’s goal for you. You have to want it, and it has to feel right for you. This will be far more motivating and enjoyable!

yellowchair provides coaching and team building activities to help individuals, teams and organisations to transform how they work and behave to achieve high-performance that is both satisfying and rewarding.

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