Mental Wealth: Your PR skills can open the door to personal change

Forget New Year's resolutions - generalised goals lead to generalised failure. But keep doing what you always have, and you'll get what you've always got.

Rate your satisfaction with your habit out of 10 and record it on the fridge, says Reath (©ThinkstockPhotos)
Rate your satisfaction with your habit out of 10 and record it on the fridge, says Reath (©ThinkstockPhotos)

Use your PR skills to transform yourself in 2017 

You have the skills needed to make personal change – those you use for work: self-awareness, data, planning, process, reframing and creativity. 

Self-awareness: say hello to a bad habit

Don’t label your habit as a problem. Greet it kindly, like an annoying client. "Hello, over-eating. How are you? I’ve not seen you since…ooh, breakfast. Why not sit here at lunch. You’re part of me, after all." Befriend and understand these habits. There’s a reason they’re there. Self-awareness gives you power over yourself.

Data: score your habit (one to 10) 

Rate your satisfaction with your habit, where 10 is perfect – say, five out of 10. Record that data on a chart on the fridge. 

Data: score your goal (one to 10)

Create an achievable goal that would make you feel you had made progress; say, 6.5. Record that on the fridge chart, too.

Planning: for now, ignore the "How will I change…?" question 

It is important to avoid thinking about ‘how’ for the moment. You’ll know exactly how to change when you clearly see what you’ll gain. 

Creativity: focus, focus, focus on the gain

Imagine you’ve achieved your 6.5/10. What are you doing differently? How does it feel? Visualise it: your mood, self-confidence and sense of achievement. What is possible now? Take your time: write these advantages down. 

Reframing – see yourself from the new perspective

Read what you’ve written. By focusing on the marginal gains it’s easier to make it happen. You can do this. Sing Accentuate the Positive; it’ll make you feel better. Name it "cognitive reframing". When you can see the top of the stairs, the climbing is easier. 

Trust the process: don’t run up the stairs

The ‘Learning Stair’ tool illustrates the process: 

Step 1: unaware I’m overeating – it’s my habit (unconscious incompetence).

Step 2: aware I’m overeating – and plan for change (conscious incompetence).

Step 3: aware I’m eating better – still have to work at it (conscious competence).

Step 4: unaware I’m eating well – it’s my new habit (unconscious competence).

Now the plan: what, where, when, how.

The gain is clear. Now, the plan: what exactly will you do differently to achieve the new outcome, and when? Combine self-knowledge and creativity to change your habit. 

Make it really detailed. Could breakfast be toast or cereal instead of toast and cereal? Maybe sit in a different place to eat? How will you remember toast or cereal? What will help you make this change? Use notes, images, reminders and your diary. Be practical and creative. 

Focus on the detail that will take you forward. 

Notice small steps forward, or back. Accept both and carry on. It’s a process. Write your moods and experience in a ‘Toast & Cereal Journal’. 

Failure is just feedback.

When you refuse to allow failure to obscure your prize and see it as part of the journey to
winning, you’ve already changed. 

You’re in the zone.

Adrian Reith coaches Michel Assouline, the coach of the British Paralympic dressage team.

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