January is a natural time to reflect on our personal and professional goals. But January is over, so now what? At RGI, we often see a February slump – where the dopamine from January resolutions has worn off – so we encourage clients to view all of Q1 as an opportunity to form new or better habits, not just January. So maybe you find yourself in a February slump, but you still want to make some positive change. Where do you start?

Our culture type assessment, Helix®, helps individuals understand their underlying motivators and preferences for the way they work with others and how they instinctively handle chaos. We always add a quick reminder that there isn’t a “best” way to be – that no matter your culture type, you CAN work with others and handle chaos, but once you understand your own preferences, you can move your response to unexpected things from your emotional brain to your logic brain. (Want to dive into that concept? Read our blog post about the 3 brains model.)

With that in mind, if you’re trying to shake up some habits in 2024, give yourself some tools! For example, we have several remote employees that need to back up their local files to our server. This can be a pain, so often, it’s not done. Deb (our Senior Communication Consultant) acknowledges that it’s an important task, but she’s a Fixer, which means that she’s not very motivated by organization (like filing systems) or habitual work. She also wants to finish a project and then move on to the next adventure – who wants to stop and spend 20 minutes activating remote security and saving a bunch of stuff to the cloud? That being said, in 2024, Deb is going to change this habit and make sure everything gets backed up to the cloud. But how? Deb is still motivated by the same things as before and is still less than thrilled about filing. You can’t just will something into being – something HAS to change. To activate your brain to do something differently, you should include some sort of visual or auditory signal. The solution to implementing Deb’s change is very simple: a calendar reminder. Every day at 4:30 pm, a chime goes off that reminds her to stop whatever she’s doing and back up the work.

Psychologists explain that simple tasks take a shorter time to become habitual – Deb automatically backing up her files should become a habit in just a few weeks of repeated reminders. More complex tasks that likely have more complex or competing desires, will take longer. For example, if you want to get into a habit of going to the gym regularly, that’s a complex task. Your schedule has various commitments, you might not actually *want* to go because it’s hard work, you have to manage logistics of when/where, and you get negative feedback like sore muscles, tiredness, and not as much immediate reward. Because of the complex nature of both the action and our response to it, creating a habit of regularly going to the gym is going to take significantly longer – 90 days, 6 months, or a year. To establish complex habits, you should also try using a tool! A calendar reminder, an alarm on your smartwatch, a standing meeting with a workout buddy, or an app that sends reminders could all be very useful in establishing that habit that you want.

You can apply these strategies in workplace scenarios, too. Reminders can be used for all kinds of habit development that can facilitate growth in leadership. For example:

  • Individually-driven types (Independent and Organizer): Even though it doesn’t motivate you, you understand that others are motivated by a sense of team, so you want to build community and engage more frequently with your team? Set an alarm on your watch to remind yourself to walk around and talk to people. Those “hallway conversations” often lead to great idea generation, problem solving, and accelerated solutions in addition to building and maintaining relationships.
  • Chaos-loving folks (Fixers and Independents): Do you have a great idea that you’d like to develop more, but there just doesn’t seem to be time to do it? Set aside 15-20 minutes each day – make a recurring appointment in your calendar. Periodically make a plan to update a colleague on your progress. Even though you can sometimes feel constrained by appointments, this little bit of structure will help you make progress on that project, which will relieve the stress that’s been plaguing you about not having time to work on it.

It may sound silly to think that an alarm on your phone or a calendar reminder might be the motivation you need to make a positive change become a habit, but you should definitely try it. If the reminder isn’t quite enough, add a reward, like enjoying a fun-sized candy or taking 10 minutes to do something you enjoy, like going outside, reading, or scrolling social media. (Reward stimulus is a whole separate psychological theory, but you get it!)

If you want to learn more about Helix and how you can use it in your organization, click here. Updates are coming to our website, so check back regularly to see what’s new! You can also follow Rose Group International on LinkedIn and Facebook for more regular tips and tricks.

 

 

 

 

 

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