Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Vital Behaviors

At our October mastermind this past weekend, we were all running a little behind and had to do our "check in" in Cindy's kitchen while she prepared the main dish for the dinner that we would all share when the meeting was over and our families arrived.  The theme for this month's potluck dinner was Dominican Republic cuisine.  (We've had so many meetings we've run out of standard ethnic cuisines like French and Mexican food!)  Cindy was at the stove cooking the sauce for what would prove to be a flavorful plantain, meatless ground beef, cheese casserole and the rest of us were helping out. 

While I washed dishes, I shared with the others that sinking feeling I had that I would not make my goal of finishing my book by the end of this year.  I was feeling insecure and asked the others what they thought of that.  My fellow masterminds are always helpful and encouraging and Linda offered that it was okay and Barbara said to just keep trying.  Cindy turned to me while aromas from the West Indies wafted from her stove and asked, "How does it make you feel?"  I smiled sheepishly over my pots and pans and said that over the years I'd set countless goals to finish The Red Coat (usually on my birthday or by the end of some important year) and I always failed.

I couldn't understand what my problem was...

Cindy, who knows me pretty well, said she thought making goals was important but how one goes about achieving them is the real question!  She recommended I read Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, a book about how to create the change we'd like to see in the world -- or in ourselves.

"Take weight loss," she said, citing an example from the book.  "How do you lose weight?"

We all offered our opinions: eat less, exercise more, basically burn more calories than you consume.  "'What you're talking about is an outcome, the goal," she said.  "The formula "burn more than you eat" describes how weight is lost, the goal, but it doesn't tell you precisely what you're supposed to do to get there, the little baby steps you have to take along the way to 'eat less or burn more'."

According to the book she mentioned, a person who wants to improve the situation should look for and identify those "vital behaviors" in herself or others that actually work.  "For example," Cindy said, "One behavior might be to quit buying snacks at the grocery store so they're not lying around the house to tempt you -- or to avoid walking by that candy shop on your lunch break."

In my case, the goal is to write faster but a vital behavior might be to refrain from doing other things in my writing sessions (like checking email) or to do a 10 minute timed "freewrite" about what I want to say when I feel I'm getting stuck.

Whether you are a visionary with a dream or just somebody with a big problem that won't go away, the book describes how focusing on vital behaviors (actions), as opposed to the results, can lead to profound change.  And what's great is that you can always test your results!  Just come up with a list of behaviors, implement them and see if they yield the results you want.

For my picture, I snapped a shot of my time pieces -- the alarm clock I set the night before my morning writing session and the egg timer I use for my 10 minute timed writings.  I want to change my relationship to time because I never seem to have enough.

What change do you want to make happen?

1 comment:

Cynthia Wylie said...

That was a powerful meeting and Influencer is an unexpectedly (I think) powerful book. Our discussion caused me to revisit my vital behaviors. I'm starting with allowing myself to hit the snooze button only once in the morning so I am up and at 'em early and more productive. Thanks, Diana