Are your good habits going bad? Try scenario planning...

Are your good habits going bad? Try scenario planning...

By Karen Amos

In a couple of recent blogs, I introduced techniques to check in on yourself when setting new habits for a positive work-life balance.  (See the end of this blog for links.)

I’d like to introduce a third tool to help you set habits that stick.  This is one to overcome all those problems and barriers and just general pesky ‘life in general’ stuff that crops up to derail all our good intentions.

At first, this approach can seem a bit negative coming from a coach – after all, we’re meant to be the ‘think positive and it will happen people’ aren’t we?  Well, for one thing, I’m not into magical thinking, and for another, I’m a down-to-earth middle-aged Yorkshire woman, so like to take a realistic and more pragmatic approach to what actually works!  And this does!

So what is ‘Scenario Planning’?

Scenario planning is a project planning/strategic thinking approach to identify things that may go wrong and derail your project or plan.  It's a way to build in mitigating actions, which will give your plans more chance of staying on track.

How is this useful to build better habits?

We often start off setting new habits with really good intentions.   We get off to a good start, fired up and raring to go.  Then reality strikes.  This might be a change in priorities with incoming work and deadlines, or even someone going off sick, meaning our workload changes.  The result is, we have to change our plans and never quite seem to get back on track again.

So whilst it seems all doom and gloom to spend time identifying what could go wrong with our lovely positive plans, scenario planning can actually be the key to building in some longevity into our habits.  If we know what might go wrong, we’re already prepared mentally and can often put in place mitigating actions to help ensure we’re not permanently derailed.

How does it work?

Here are a few coaching questions to help you get started.  (Don’t spend too much time on this though - it's more important you crack on and take action.  If you identify something new as you go along, you can always add it to the list later.)

  • What might get in the way or impede my progress in embedding this habit?
  • How likely is this to happen?  (Try a scale of 0-5 - 0 = Definitely won't/5 = Definitely will)
  • Are there any particular circumstances in which this would happen?
  • Are there any things that happen at certain points in the year I need to take into account?
  • What can I put in place to mitigate or remove the impact of this?

Hopefully you now have a good start to set habits that will stick.  Remember, this tool can also be used for any plans you’re making, whether work-related, or personal.

I have a couple more blogs about Staying on track for a better work-life balance (HERE) and If and then... Setting the conditions for a better work-life balance (HERE),  for more coaching questions to help you on your way.

If you would like support with your Time Management, Work-Life Balance or general wellbeing at work, call us on 07714 855757, or email info@bright-bird.co.uk

BREAKING NEWS!  We’re just about to re-launch our newly updated Positive and Productive Wellbeing Programme for Education Staff.  If you’d like to find out more, again email or phone for launch dates and costs.

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers who are feeling the pressure, to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 

 


If and Then… Setting the Conditions for Successful New Habits

If and Then… Setting the Conditions for Successful New Habits

By Karen Amos

I wrote in an earlier blog about a technique to check in on yourself when setting new habits for work-life balance.  (Click HERE to read more).

I thought I’d share another great way to help build and maintain habits.  This is to set ‘If and Then’ conditions to your actions.

Here are a couple of examples:

A few years ago I decided to start running to get fit.  But…

If I got home from work and sat down with a cuppa… then I got comfy and didn't go out for my run.’

However…

If I got home from work, put down my bag and immediately put on my running kit… then I’d go straight out of the door and have my run.

__________________________________________

I also had a client who was wanting to lose weight to have a more healthy lifestyle by eating more fresh food.  The problem was that…

If she did her food shopping after work when she was hungry… then she would also buy lots of junk food and chocolate at the same time.

However…

If she went food shopping in the morning, or had a healthy snack before shopping… then she didn’t have the food cravings and succumb to buying unhealthy food.

So here are a few tips to help build those habits:

  • Set out your conditional ‘If and Then’ statements to identify where the problem lies (See the examples above)
  • Set out an ‘If and Then’ statement that will overcome this problem
  • Build this intention into your diary or to-do list, so you’re conscious of it at the beginning of the day
  • Get an accountability buddy – whether it’s a colleague, friend, or family member – tell them your intention – you’re much more likely to take this action if someone else knows! This could even be an ‘If and Then’ itself!

If you’d like to find out more about building better habits, I have a couple more blogs about Setting up flags to know when you’re going off track (HERE) and Using Scenario Planning to Prevent Good Habits Turning Bad (HERE),  with lots more coaching questions to help you on your way.

If you would like support with your Time Management, Work-Life Balance or general wellbeing at work, call us on 07714 855757, or email info@bright-bird.co.uk

BREAKING NEWS!  We’re just about to re-launch our newly updated Positive and Productive Wellbeing Programme for Education Staff.  If you’d like to find out more, again email or phone for launch dates and costs.

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers who are feeling the pressure, to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 


Want to achieve more? Start at the end…

Want to achieve more?  Start at the end...

By Karen Amos

September.  Putting aside the nagging feeling I’ve blinked and missed the last 6 months, I’m starting September with a new energy.  There’s something about this time of year that smells of new starts and exciting possibilities, no doubt from early conditioning of starting back at school for a new term, with new shoes and fresh unwritten exercise books...

Whatever the reason, it’s a great time of year to utilise all that new-found motivation.  The problem is, it’s so easy to lose it again amongst all the ‘chores’ that need doing – both at work and personally.  I found myself in such a place this week, feeling overwhelmed with the amount of tasks, appointments and activities in front of me.  The issue with overwhelm is that it can stop you in your tracks, or at best leave you highly ineffectual, casting around aimlessly, or immobilised by indecision.

Building Better Habits...

Then I remembered good old Stephen Covey – You know, the ‘7 Habits’ guy!  As a coach, one of my favourite habits is ‘Begin with the End in Mind’.  The premise is that we first need to create a mental blueprint of what we want to achieve before we physically take action. ¹

Coaching follows the same principle.  If you don’t know your destination, how will you know the right actions to take?  This is why so many people are unproductive in their work, as they focus on tasks and activity, rather than outcomes.  That’s the reason John Whitmore started the coaching GROW Model with G’ for ‘Goal.  We need to first work out where we want to go, then work out how we’re going to do it.²

Start Your Day As You Mean To Go On...

One great habit to get into, is to spend the first 10-15 minutes of your day, planning.  That means planning out your day, and also how this fits to your week and the medium to longer term.  It’s easy to say you can’t afford the time, but I’d argue that you can't afford not to.

To start the day with no clear plan, means you’re trusting to luck that you’re working on the right things, with no clear measure of whether you’ve been successful or not.   You'll inevitably end up bowing to external pressures and losing track.  Essentially, you need to train yourself to consistently think strategically about all aspects of your work and business.  Strategy shouldn't be something we visit now and again when we've time - it should be the road map with live and work by.

Here are some helpful coaching questions to get you started:

  • What do I actually need to achieve here?
  • What’s my outcome for today?
  • How will I know when I have achieved this?
  • Is this the most important thing I should be working on?
  • What’s a reasonable timescale to achieve this?
  • Who can help me with this?
  • What other resources will I need?
  • What are my first steps?

So remember, if you really want to make an impact – begin at the end!

  1. Covey S.R., (2020). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Simon & Schuster. UK
  2. Whitmore, J,.(2007). Coaching For Performance - GROWing People, Performance & Purpose. 3rd Edition. Nicholas Brealey. London.

If you'd like to create more space and focus in your working life, book in for a FREE Discovery Coaching session.  Click HERE to find out more.

For an informal, no-obligation chat about how we can help you, call us on 07714 855757, or email info@bright-bird.co.ukOr visit our NEW training pages HERE 

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports under-pressure business owners and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships.