Switch-Shrink the Change-Baby Steps for Your Elephant Part 4

June 25, 2011

Change, Personal Growth

We are continuing with our exploration of change with the ideas from the book Switch by the Heath Brothers.  Motivating ourselves is difficult, which is why Switch refers to our emotions as an elephant.  In the last blog, we talked about finding the feelings that make us want to change.  This time we will explore how shrinking the change makes us more likely to feel like doing it as well.

It has been found that people are more likely to be motivated when they are closer to the finish line than at the beginning.  Think about it.  I am no runner but I if I thought I could run one more mile to complete a half marathon, I would do it!  I won’t even start one though….13 miles?  No way!

“Starting an unpleasant task is always worse than continuing it” says Switch. So how do we use this to help us change?  Here are some ideas:

1. Break the change down into smaller steps.  For example, a youth worker can decide to add a reflection piece to his program.  This is a simple step that makes a huge change to youth engagement and learning.  On a personal level, give up late night snacks instead of getting on an entire diet plan.  (Weight Watchers  is one of the most successful weight loss programs for many reasons, and they use this method by giving you points to keep track of each day instead of calories.)

A recent book that addresses change in a similar vein is The 1% Solution by Tom Connellan.  He says, “You start by doing something-however-small- and once you accomplish that, your motivation goes up.”

2. Look for easy wins.  We all like to succeed.  What are some easy ways to accomplish the change? Set some easy winable goals for your youth and yourself and celebrate them. Celebrate often not just at the end of the semester or goal. (Weight Watchers gives rewards for every 5 pounds lost.)

3. Move the finish line closer.  A research study was done to test the effectiveness of punch cards to increase sales.  Half the study received 1 punch for the carwash they purchased.  The other half received an extra “promotional” punch for free, so they had 2 punches. Results? 19% of those who had received 1 punch on their card never returned enough times to earn the free car wash.  34% who were given 2 punches did return enough times to earn their free wash.  Their punch cards were already 20% completed after the first wash! How can you make your youth feel that they are close enough to their goals to keep going? (Weight Watchers uses this idea by setting your weight loss goal as 10% of your current weight to make sure you have a goal that feels in reach.)

So shrink the change….create baby steps for that emotional (elephant) side of you and others.  Give yourself and others a chance for success.

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