We’re a month into 2010 and we’re drowning.
We had wonderful things we wanted to accomplish, goals we set, 3 words we listed. And now, five weeks later, we’re wondering what happened.
- Wanting change is easy.
- Changing is hard.
- Listing options for change is easy.
- Picking one is hard.
- Getting lost in the details of a solution is easy.
- Picking just one thing to do that will make a difference is hard.
Chip Heath and Dan Heath recognize just how hard that is. In the third chapter of Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, they tell us that having too many options paralyzes us into continuing with how we do things already. (I’m blogging through conversations about this book. Here’s my post on chapter two: finding bright spots.)
In this chapter, it’s to script the critical moves. Because options and ambiguity confuse people, the Heaths say, if you want to help people change, clearly identify what you want people to do.
They look at research among doctors, grocery stores, abusive parents, a Brazilian railroad, and kids in a small town in South Dakota. Throughout those stories, they show us that “clarity dissolves resistance.”
Over and over we ask people to change, we tell people to change, we encourage people to change, but we don’t carefully identify a simple clear step to change. And our brains get confused.
And then when people ask how, when we ask ourselves how, we have huge lists.
Eat better. (More coffee, less coffee, more carbs, no carbs, more meat, less meat, more fats, less fats, the right kind of fats). Drink more water. Exercise. (how many times a day? What muscle groups? What are muscle groups? How far? How fast? Who is right?).
No wonder so many of us give up in frustration.
I’m working on the health thing this year as part of my 3 words. I wanted something simple to start.
So one of my approaches this year is to drink three extra glasses of water. Some days I even line them up on my desk.
I’ve got a couple of other projects I’m working on now, projects that involve helping people to change. This concept, “scripting the critical moves”, is changing how I’m thinking about them. It demands way more reflection and conversation and clarification and time.
But what if it works?
Above and following is an affiliate link for the book. If you order it, I’ll get a little money (but it won’t cost you extra.) Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard.
I also need to tell you that the copy I have is an advance copy I was sent because I requested it. I requested it because I was a fan of their previous book, Made to Stick. However, I will be buying my own copy when the book comes out in February. (And a handful of copies for other people.)