You really want to make this change, right? Maybe you’ve tried before, and it hasn’t stuck. Now you’re ready to step up to the plate again but need some new technique, a new approach in your leadership toolkit.
You’re in the right place. I’m about to describe a dependable, NASA researched process for shifting a behavioural habit for good, once and for all!
Please don’t diminish the importance of this message because of the simplicity of the method. It works a charm.
Some time ago NASA was researching how its astronauts would deal without gravity, particularly with being upside down in space.
As part of this research, it had a bunch of its astronauts wear special convex lens goggles—goggles that made their world look upside down. They were required to wear their goggles 24/7 for 30 consecutive days.
Something quite stunning happened…
After between 25 and 30 days, every astronaut’s world looked the right way up. Their brains created fresh neural pathways that turned the upside-down image that came to their eye, the right way up. Their brains helped them function more effectively!
Interestingly, when the astronauts removed their goggles, it took their brains another 25 to 30-days to view the world as you and I do, the right way up.
Later NASA did a second study that had half of their astronauts remove their goggles for 24-hours half way through the experiment, on day 15. For the brains of those astronauts to flip the upside down image the right way up, they had to wear their goggles for an additional 25 to 30-days.
Just breaking the continuity of the new “habit” once, put the astronauts back to square one. The conclusion?
It takes an uninterrupted period of up to 30-days to reprogram your unconscious mind and develop a new habit.
Why Is NASA’s Research So Vital To Leaders?
It’s important because it shows that when you’re striving to change a behavioural habit, you’ll need to focus on that change for 30 consecutive days.
That’s 30-days without a break. Remember, if you have a break, you’ll need to start your 30-days again.
You form habits when you create new neural pathways, just like the astronauts did. Practicing a new behaviour, or even simply visualising your new behaviour in detail, every day for 30 consecutive days is the key.
After 30-days you can relax and let your unconscious brain take over. You’ll be unconsciously competent. And you’ll be delighted with the unconscious competence you’ve created.
Exactly What Is The Behaviour You Want To Change?
To successfully replace an undesirable habit with a new one, you’ll need to ensure your targeted new habit is a specific and observable behaviour—and that it’s phrased in a positive way.
A behavioural goal like “Get into the habit of meditating” simply isn’t going to cut it. Something like “Meditate for 15-minutes every day before breakfast” is the sort of specificity your brain needs.
And a behavioural goal like “Stop putting off giving feedback to my team members” isn’t going to cut it either. However “Ensure I acknowledge each of my team members at least once a week” is appropriately stated in the affirmative.
Your Leadership Call to Action
- Select the behavioural habit you want to focus on for the next 30-days. (I don’t recommend working on more than one habit at a time.)…
- Develop a specific “what I’ll do when” plan…
- Every day for 30-days, without missing a beat, implement your plan…
- At the end of 30-days, celebrate! Your unconscious mind will have automatically habituated your new behaviour.
As always, keep me posted on your progress and your success.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.