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Develop Good Habits with Pseudo-Recurring Actions

Sometimes in a coaching session you might determine that you want your coachee to take on a regular practice for the coming week.  It might be some new habit that will be most beneficial by becoming engrained, or just something that simply deserves to be more than a one-time good idea.

I had this with one of my coachees, Tim, last week.  He’s exploring a new way of offering and selling his services as he moves beyond offering commodity technical services and into more sophisticated consulting.

“Try this”, I said.  “Over the next week, I want you to find 5 occasions to take just 10 minutes and ponder who you might pitch to and what you might present.  Then journal about those 10 minutes, either the ideas you got, the insights you had, or the actions you took.  Just 10 minutes, do it 5 times.”

It should be noted that this sort of thing is generally a lot to ask of someone you coach.  They have to remember to follow through not just once but on five separate occasions, and do so with a behavior that, by its very nature, is not yet natural.

But this is also very powerful: it’s building a practice that sets your coachee up to shift things on an ongoing basis.

Tim said it would be really nice if CoachAccountable had recurring actions.  I suppose it would be, but then again that sort of thing might be cumbersome and complicated to set up.  Then I realized there was a nice way to do it.

I created a single action, and then with a few clicks made a sequence of regular reminders, like so:

Pseudo Recurring Action

This way we had everything we needed to set Tim up to regularly do his thing.  Regular reminders would prompt him to take those 10 minutes on a daily basis.  From the reminder email he could click into CoachAccountable and make his journal entries.

The regular practice ending up bearing real fruit as he gradually trained his mind to regularly look for opportunities to play with his new style of sales.  Tim ended up completing 4 of those journal entries during the week, and having the system remind him to take the time on a regular basis got way more follow through on this exercise than could usually be expected.

I dub these “pseudo-recurring actions”: they aren’t recurring actions per-se, but by smartly setting up a set of reminders for a single, ongoing action you can get the people you coach to follow through a lot more in their practice of new habits.

2 Comments »

  1. Dr John Kenworthy said,

    February 14, 2013 @ 2:02 am

    Why not use a course for such. You can then change the message slightly each day too :-)

  2. John said,

    February 14, 2013 @ 2:07 am

    Hah! Indeed, courses are pretty awesome like that, and I hadn’t even thought about doing it that way. Yeah, that’s probably even better for instilling habits and practices over an extended period of time. The advantage of this approach is that it’s much easier to create such a thing in a one-off, ad hoc way.

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