Can You Live With the Practice You Create?

by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

Have you ever started an all-juice cleanse, a crazy fitness routine or kicked off a really extreme New Year's Resolution? How long did it last? I'm guessing if you're like most of us, not long! In fact, Dan Diamond of Forbes Magazine reported that "just 8% of people achieve their New Year's goals" according to a study by the University of Scranton.

Many Financial Representatives (FRs) approach their activity with the same extreme gusto. "I will do Granum level activity every single day no matter what!" "I will always prospect!" "Come hell or high water I will do my 40 dials every morning at 9:00 AM" they proclaim in Clientbuilder with New Year's Eve-like zest. 

Like pretty much every extreme juice cleanse, this plan backfires. Not only does the FR not achieve the goal, he or she is actually worse for having tried implementing the high intensity plan. One reason is that, while we enjoy the drama and excitement of talking about making huge changes, we humans are not wired to actually change this way. "Essentially, shooting for the moon can be so psychologically daunting, you end up failing to launch in the first place," writes Diamond.

If we set up the life change to be so extreme that it takes us miles out of our comfort zone, the result can be a quick retraction to safety and our old ways. Instead, making very small non-flashy steps turns out to really work. Tiny, incremental change is the most lasting change. Set measurable, attainable, ridiculously easy goals and you are likely to complete the mission and continue to build on it. You will feel good about the progress you are making along the way and be able to gradually work your way to your big picture goal.

For example, instead of pounding out 40 dials a day after not phoning at all for months, start by making 5 dials a day for a week straight. Then, if it feels really comfortable and successful to you, increase it to 8 or 10 dials a day the next week. Go at your own pace. If you miss a day, get right back at it the next day. There is no need to punish yourself by trying to make up the dials or feel bad about it if you miss a day. You are human and you're learning a new habit. The more compassion you can show yourself, the more positive your outcome is likely to be.

Avoid vague, distant goals like "I'm going to start prospecting in the new calendar year." That sounds like a goal with an off/on switch. You are either doing it or not doing it--no room for error. This sets you up to sabotage yourself. The moment you "fail" you give up. It would be like getting a flat tire in your car and, instead of fixing it, hopping out and slashing the other three tires. Enough driving for you! Start your change process now in a very small way instead of ramping up to a bring dramatic launch that puts a lot of pressure on you.

While you are learning a new habit and growing, treat yourself with the patience and kindness you would show a dog you are training or a child you are teaching. If you catch yourself being critical of yourself, tell your brain, "stop, thanks" and refocus on what you are doing well.

Whatever new habits you instill, choose carefully. Make sure you can continue to achieve your goals for the rest of your career by setting reasonable, attainable standards that you can really maintain.

Just think, if you start now you might work your way up to 40 dials a day in style and comfort by New Year's instead of dreading the looming change ahead. Why not start doing one absolutely silly action in the right direction right now? One dial? One ask? Just start and then celebrate the win.

Coaching Tip Write down your measurable goal somewhere you can see it all the time. A dollar store white board is perfect for this. Track your daily progress. Enjoy how easy it is to make tiny, lasting change. Watch the results stack up.