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.

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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.