Habits, habits, habits. You have lots of them. If you’re like most people, some of your habits are good. Some are probably bad. And some may be downright ugly. A habit is something you do more or less automatically. You do it without thinking – often without even noticing that you’re doing it. It’s something you do when you’re not trying to do anything at all. So, for example, whether you have a good habit of sitting up straight or a bad habit of slouching, the habit is it’s its own boss. It doesn’t wait to take orders from you.
If you make a point of keeping your intentions to yourself, you may be depriving your intentions of the power they need to make it to the finish line.
Of course, you may have good reasons for keeping your intentions private. Maybe you think that going public with an intention is a surefire way to jinx it. Or maybe you figure that by keeping quiet about what you intend to do, you’ll spare yourself from embarrassment if you don’t follow through. Or maybe you just want to surprise someone by making an important change they weren’t expecting you to make.
But the truth is, you can unleash enormous follow-through power by going public with a promise.
I decided over 40 years ago that I would make it my life’s work to shed light on the nearly universal problem of poor follow through. Well, I’m still at it. And although I’ve learned a ton about what it really takes to follow through, I remain as perplexed as ever about one thing: People – and society as a whole – don’t take following through as seriously as they should.
I’ve been saying for years that the mind works the way it does and not the logical way we think it should. Case in point is the self-defeating way the mind (mis)treats intentions. It makes no sense at all. On the one hand, we use our own intelligence and experience — and we draw on the intelligence and experience of others — to figure out what we could and should do to make our lives better in big ways, in little ways, and in all ways in between. On the other hand, once we figure out what we could and should do, we often fail to do it. What a waste! Again, it just doesn’t make any sense.
When it comes to following through, believe it or not, I generally do practice what I preach. That’s why this month’s blog post will be especially short.
You see, in the midst of a big move, I’m super busy and quite stressed-out, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t feel in the least bit like writing the blog post I promised myself I’d write every month.
Although you may be reluctant to use it, you should know that you have access at any time to a cleverly hidden source of virtually unlimited follow through power.
You can access this powerhouse simply by deliberately creating a truly compelling reason to do — and keep on doing — whatever you intend to do NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE DOING IT.
I confessed in a previous post that although I’m proud of the follow through strategies I’ve developed over the years that enable people who use them to consistently make good on their own good intentions, I’m aware — painfully aware — that these strategies won’t do much good for people who don’t actually use them. And I’m also painfully aware that not everyone who learns them will use them.
If you’ve completed the Follow Through Strategies course, you already know about the Leading the Horse to Water strategy. That strategy calls for removing the unpleasant part of a task you need to complete – scaling it back as much as it takes to detoxify it so you can move forward and build the momentum and structure necessary to eventually get the whole job done. In other words, it’s a matter of lowering the bar so that you can easily clear it.