The Best Tool for Behaviour Change
It’s been clear for many years that one of the greatest struggles of all health professionals is getting their clients to change their behaviour.
People hate change.
They don’t want to change.
They want to improve.
But hardly do they want to experience change.
That’s because change usually requires them to abandon comfort.
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be another one of ‘those’ blogs saying how change should be uncomfortable.
It’s actually more of a personal anecdote as I’ve been involved in this industry over the years.
I don’t actually think telling people to change works nearly as much as another method.
I’ve seen people truly change by utilising this idea.
And the best thing about it? They don’t even know it’s working while it’s working.
There are no targeted words involved.
There are no ‘self-help’ speeches involved.
No need for intensive meditation practices.
It’s not about talking to someone and trying to dissect your childhood to see why you’re the way you are.
It’s actually so much simpler than that.
I had a client once who managed to lose 30kg over 6 months because of this one simple idea. He felt like the ‘weight just came off.’ He wasn’t even aware WHY he was able to change.
I’d tried to motivate him with speeches. I’d had him journal. I’d put him on the best programs. But it would make marginal, and sometimes, no effect. So it was a huge surprise to me when he started TRULY making lifestyle changes that led to his dramatic improvement in health.
But it was not JUST his weight that changed. It was also his attitude, his perspective on life, his entire demeanor. His approach on life had changed so much that it indirectly influenced his health decisions.
So what was it, you ask?
I took a long time figuring that out for myself too.
And now that I have, it’s BY FAR the most powerful instigator of behaviour change I’ve ever seen.
It’s one of those ideas that once you see it, you’ll realise how much it has played in your life.
You’ll never be able to unsee it.
Best of all? It’s something that everyone CAN have access to. You just have to be willing to seek it.
The crazy thing is? It’s actually commonly taught in other spheres of life – like business and life. It’s actually something that people talk about ubiquitously.
By now you might’ve realised that I’m purposely omitting what it is. I’m stringing you along. All good things must have a build up, and I’m doing that right now.
I’m building up this idea for you so that you can value the words that are about to appear.
Are you sure?
Okay. I’ll tell you.
The best way to instigate behaviour change from all my years of coaching…
Is to hang around people with the behaviour you want.
Nothing is more powerful than the ability of our social group to shape who we are.
And that’s exactly what happened to my overweight client. He just started hanging out with a circle of friends who lived an active lifestyle. He adopted their hobbies, he adopted their dietary preferences and eventually and their mindset.
Did he know it was happening, while it was happening?
When you like being around a group of people, or just someone… there’s a weird osmosis that happens. You just end up picking up some of their behaviours and tendencies. You’d like to think you won’t, but somewhere, somehow, you do. It might be the way you think, the words you speak, the jokes you say, whatever, but there’s SOME part of them that will enter you, and some part of you that will enter them.
In the context of health, it just means surrounding yourself with people who are serious and responsible about their health. Just be around them, and the rest seems to happen.
You know what else is crazy about this idea?
Actually, it’s kinda scary?
It’s that if it can help you, it can also hurt you.
If you’re always hanging around people with behaviours you DON’T want for yourself… eventually you will adopt them.
If you’re always hanging around people who like to binge drink… eventually you’re likely to binge drink.
If you’re always hanging around smokers, eventually you might smoke.
You get the idea?
As much as it can help, it can also harm.
As coaches, let’s remember that we are part of their social environment and they are absorbing off us too. We must set a good example as best we can to maximise the effect of osmosis.
If ever someone asked me, ‘what’s the best way for someone to change their behaviour?’ I would answer unequivocally that they should simply hang around people with the behaviour they want.