THE BLOG
09/06/2016 06:46 pm ET Updated Sep 07, 2017

The Best Strategy For Habit Change Is The One That Works

In the book Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin does an excellent job of emphasizing that different people require different strategies to be successful in habit change.

Some people are morning larks while others are night owls. Some of us like to take small steps at the start of a project while others prefer the momentum of a flurry of initial activity. Some need a clear desk while others thrive in the midst of the messy.

This is all very true and that's why in my time coaching process, I encourage a custom approach to lasting behavioral change. However, I thought that it would be helpful to share that even within one person, you will have to use many different types of strategies to accomplish your goals.

Here's an example of just some of the ways in which I keep life flowing and in order, each of which have a different strategy:

  • To make sure I remember to exercise, I put time on my calendar during weekly planning on the nights when I should be able to workout. I don't need to stick to that exact time, but I do make it a goal to have physical activity that night.
  • To get through my e-mail, I have going through my inbox as one of the items I check off during my morning planning and processing
  • To have time for prayer and Bible reading, I keep my journal and Bible on my nightstand and carry them with me to the breakfast table as soon as I get out of bed so that I can read and think during my morning meal.
  • To maintain my weight, I have a weekly recurring reminder in my calendar to weigh myself and I keep a record of the data in a note on Evernote
  • To motivate myself to work when the weather is really beautiful, I'll take my laptop outside and work from the yard.
  • To not get distracted by social media or personal e-mail, I close those tabs in my browser when I'm working
And the list goes on...

There's no one right strategy for you or for me. In many cases we need to say yes, yes, and yes! to many different ones. The key is to keep experimenting with areas that aren't working how you prefer until you come to a solution that works. For example a few days ago, I was having a particularly hard time getting motivated to do the two things that were most important. So how I got myself to move them forward was to list out the steps for both and then alternate between the two: one small step for one, then one small step for the other. Back and forth. Back and forth. By working in this way, I never felt stuck doing something because I was constantly switching tasks. Is this the most efficient? No. Is this how I always work? Definitely not. But did it allow me to relatively painlessly get some forward momentum in two key areas on a day when I might have struggled otherwise? Yep.

That's the point. This isn't about perfection but about consistent and persistent progress on what's most important to us.

About Real Life E

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E® also encourages Christians to align themselves with God's heart through Divine Time Management.

McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Harvard Business Review published her second book How to Invest Your Time Like Money. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Fast Company and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox.