Want to Reach an Overwhelming Goal? Try the Simple Trick That's 'Like the Navy Seals, But for Personal Growth.'
Here's how to successfully adopt new behaviors -- and make sure they stick.
When running any kind of coaching or consulting program, focusing on results is critical. It's what brings in new business, keeps clients happy and keeps us as coaches motivated to transform more lives.
If there's one thing that will cripple confidence, it's lack of client results, so I want to share what's been working for me as well as some of the science behind it. Hopefully, it helps you better understand your own behavior and that of your clients.
Let's start with a little example of course completion. How many coaching programs or courses have your clients begun, but not finished? It happens all the time, and when it does, we feel frustrated because we truly want change to happen. "If they had just done what I asked," we say to ourselves.
Here's how to make that intended outcome more likely.
How to create behaviors that stick
I work in the personal-development niche for entrepreneurs, and there are certain actions that must happen for behavior to stick — for there to be lasting change and a shift in identity.
Take, for example, meditation. I help my clients build up to longer meditation practices, gradually increasing the amount of time from 10 minutes to 60 minutes during a six to 12 week period. The goal is to help them become calm, confident entrepreneurs.
In this case, my clients couldn't adopt this new practice through willpower alone: Self-sabotage would kick in — the typical restlessness that many face when trying to alter their behavior.
So, my first step towards solving the problem was to set up a daily tracking system.
Every day, my clients must fill in their daily high-performance tracker by a certain time. Failure to do this shuts down their member's area, and there's an additional consequence and challenge setup in order for them to get back in.
Sometimes, it's hard for individuals to self-monitor and cultivate a consistent daily routine. So, a daily tracker is very useful as a regulator, as it trains the brain to discipline itself. The tracker is the little push, an external stimulus, to activate my clients' intrinsic motivation.
And checking off that daily accomplishment builds confidence; successfully completing that tracker form each day provides clients with a dopamine hit, diminishing those stubborn traces of self-doubt. Eventually, clients correlate the logging with a personal-development reward — and will actually learn to like it.
The "lock out": another level of accountability
While the tracker works well, I also introduced another level of accountability: the four-stage locking system. If the client is locked out a certain number of times, the system eventually asks him or her to leave the program, and there's no refund option. It's like the Navy Seals, but for personal growth.
Some people need negative reinforcement in order to wake up and get on the right path again. Sometimes, they're incapable of fixing their own lives — they're discouraged because all of their attempts have failed so far. With this shocking tactic, clients start to realize that it's now or never. Now is the chance to get their acts together, or they might never achieve the success they crave.
Fear of a consequence activates the amygdala (emotion regulation) and pre-frontal cortex (discipline) of the brain. The two types of punishment — a regular lock and a superlock (after three locks) — act as stages on a continuum that repeat and therefore reinforce the sequence of a consequence, an emotional reaction. The last chance creates a major decision and transformational moment for the client.
By far, the most popular part of the coaching experience is the locking system, and when evaluating results, it was this feature that created the biggest shift in behavior. Initially, clients don't like it, but when they start to see results, they love it. By avoiding the lock consequence, clients are also simultaneously rewarding and reinforcing their new positive neural pathways.
Related: The 7 'Senses' of Self-Development
So, from a neuroscientific point of view, discipline, accountability and consistency are critical for the brain's optimum function and, ultimately, results. With these critical factors in play, you can capitalize on the brain's capabilities so that your clients can enhance their self-awareness, improve focus, increase creativity and reduce stress.
When you implement this kind of system, clients go from saying "I never complete programs" to "I don't want this to end." And that's the kind of change that will have a major impact on your coaching or consulting business — allowing you to help clients unlock their full potential while you accomplish your own personal and professional goals.
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