Category Archives: change anything

Change Anything: Structural Motivation and Structural Ability

How to Change Anything

This week we are wrapping up my series looking at the six sources of influence found in one of my favorite books, Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

change anything

The last two sources to cover are structural motivation and structural ability. Structural motivation looks at bribing ourselves to change. Instead of believing you can simply make the change on your own, try something to entice you toward change. Structural ability looks at making changes in your structure or space to make your goals easier to reach.

Structural Motivation

Let’s start with structural motivation, which the authors describe as ‘inverting the economy’. Change your incentives to help you toward your goals. Here are a few tactics to use.

Use carrots and the threat of losing carrots.

  • Find an incentive for making the changes.
    • Take 30 minutes to read your favorite book when you turn down a commitment.
  • Give money to a charity you hate if you don’t meet set goals.
    • Maybe you give to a charity you don’t like if you say yes to a commitment you really wish you had turned down.

Use incentives in moderation and in combination.

  • Use small rewards, not big ones.
    • Taking yourself out for coffee each week you successfully deal with incoming mail and paperwork.

Use rewards in combination with social and personal motivators.

  • If you’re trying to keep your kitchen table uncluttered, maybe a family dinner or hosting book club is your reward.

Reward small wins.

  • Break your goals into smaller steps and reward those steps as you meet them.
    • Spend 15 minutes a day dealing with paperwork, instead of a Saturday afternoon.
Structural Ability

The final source of influence is structural ability. This source looks at controlling your space. It’s tactics include:

Build fences

  • If you are saving money, don’t go into stores where you know you will spend money, unless you stick to a predetermined list and budget.
  • Don’t sign up for any magazines or mail subscriptions.

Manage distance

  • Create a distance between yourself and temptation.
    • Delete Internet bookmarks to make online shopping more difficult.
    • Deal with your mail somewhere other than your kitchen table.

Change cues

  • Create cues in your environment to remind you of the changes you are making.
    • Use your phone or photos on your fridge or car dashboard to place notes or checklists.

Engage your autopilot

  • Find a way to put something on autopilot or into a default mode so you don’t have to think about it.
    • Schedule regular appointments to deal with paperwork or to spend time with family members.

Use tools

  • Regularly post your progress on Facebook.
  • Commit to nightly family dinner or breakfast.
  • Ensure your electronic devices are working for you in your change.

We have now covered all 6 sources of influence. Remember that you need to use all 6 sources, not just a couple, if you want to make real progress towards change.

I hope you have found something useful in these posts and are able to use this information as you tackle some changes in your life! If you’d like to talk more about how to apply these in your life, schedule a call with me. Or send me a message.

Change Anything: Personal Ability

I hope you enjoyed my last blog on personal motivation, one of the 6 sources of influence discussed in Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. This week, we’re looking at Personal Ability.  

When wanting to make a change in your life, there’s often more than willpower working against you. Sometimes, you may not have the skills to make the change. Maybe you never learned how to manage your money or how to deal with incoming mail and paperwork. Maybe you never had a problem with managing your time until you became an adult and had a house to manage, a full-time job, a dog, and a new baby. Often, this lack of skill sits in what the authors call a blind spot. You simply didn’t know it was a problem!

Let’s look at some tactics on identifying your personal ability to tackle this change.

Start with a skill scan. Start looking at your ability to do what you need to before getting started on making changes.

  • You ignore your bills because you don’t understand how to track your finances. Unpaid bills coupled with your shopping habits, you may never end up paying down your debt.
    • Make an appointment with a financial advisor or take classes on managing your finances.
  • You say yes anytime someone asks for help (joining a committee, taking on extra work that requires extra hours) because you are worried about hurting someone’s feelings.
    • Take a class on assertiveness or create a rule that you always say ‘let me check my calendar and I’ll get back to you.’
  • You don’t know how to set up a file system or what to do with all the incoming mail or if you can even stop it.
    • Call a professional organizer, take a class or find a book on managing paperwork.

Apply deliberate practice. 

  • Practice saying no, practice saying ‘I’ll get back to you.’ Practice scheduling time for yourself.
  • Break it down into small steps. Put your mail in the same place every day. Put a shredder right next to where you sort your mail. Put a recycle bin for your junk mail next to where you sort your mail.

Learn the will skill. Willpower can be learned and strengthened.

  • Can you avoid temptation when faced with your most tempting scenario? Can you avoid the situation altogether? What about distracting yourself, reviewing your personal motivation statement, or finding a trusted friend who can act as your coach.
    • Suggest a lunch and a movie instead of shopping with a friend.
    • Look at your calendar and think about your priorities before you say yes to something.

change anything

This week, take a few minutes to see what outside help you might seek and what you can practice. I’m practicing saying no to things I know I can’t fully devote myself to. And I’m breaking tasks down into small steps (emptying the dishwasher when I first get up so I can put dishes away throughout the day instead of spending a bunch of time at the end of the day).

Join me next time as we look at social motivation and social ability! And if you want some support in identifying your personal ability, schedule some time with me or send me a message!

Change Anything: Personal Motivation

change anythingI hope you read my last blog about my favorite book, Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. This week we’re going to look at Personal Motivation.

Let’s start with your crucial moments. Do you get sucked into the $1 bins at Target (I’ll admit, sometimes I have to drag myself away from them)? Or do you come home from work so tired that you drop everything at the door saying you’ll deal with it all later? Then you find yourself scrambling to get out the door the next morning? Or maybe you say yes anytime someone asks you to help or join a committee, even if you know you don’t have the time!

With your crucial moments in mind, think about your default future. Where are you headed if you keep living this way? Imagine your worst-case scenario if you don’t change. Overwhelming debt? Exhaustion, illness, or missing out on time with your family? Resentment? Not being able to find anything in your house when you really need it?

Ok, now that you have your default future in your mind, let’s look at changing the way you make choices or learning to love what you hate. Yes, you can do that. You need to see and believe in the future you want.

Here are some tips on learning to love what you hate.

Use value words. Why are you making this change? What good will come from this change?  

  • You want to save more money or quickly find clothes to wear, clothes that are clean and ready to put on. You want to eat dinner at your table with friends and family or be able to host Thanksgiving.

Make it a game. How can you make this change fun? Break your goal into small tasks, compete with a friend. What can you do to provide yourself encouragement along the way?

  • Get rid of 2 pieces of clothes each day, spend 5 minutes every day sorting through the mail, put on some music, set a timer, set a deadline.

Create a personal motivation statement. Create something to remind yourself why you’re doing this. You can glance at this during your crucial moments.

  • Find a picture of something you aspire to such as a family dinner, an organized closet, or a trip you want to take and need to save money for.

This week, choose one or two of the above tips and figure out how to incorporate them into your change plan.

Next time, we’ll look at Personal Ability. And if you want some support in identifying your personal motivation, schedule some time with me or send me a message!