- Do you sometimes find yourself mistrusting a run of ‘good luck’ and wondering when things might turn sour again?
- Have you ever thought you were making great strides and were ‘plane sailing’ only to crash and burn, feeling like you were starting over?
- Do you sometimes find yourself repeating old behaviours you thought were long gone?
Even if we’ve made great strides towards lasting change, there’s always a chance we’ll revert to old ways of being or old patterns of behaviour in a given situation or in response to certain stimuli.
It can feel very disheartening — devastating, even — when we’ve been making good progress and suddenly find ourselves ‘back at square one’.
One of the purposes of coaching is to support and sustain change. However, as well as being about big dreams and stellar changes, coaching is grounded in real life.
I encourage my clients to prepare for lapses in their progress to ensure they’re not completely derailed by them, should they occur. Forewarned is forearmed, so I ask my clients to be aware of what might trigger unhelpful behaviour and prepare for it, so that even if they slip, they’re not actually going ‘back to square one’.
If you’ve slipped, try to keep things in perspective. Catastrophising won’t help. It’s probably not the end of the world, so make like Fred Astaire — pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again. Most big changes take effort and a few ‘failures’ — so congratulate yourself for endeavouring to make this change in the first place.
Build your self-awareness in terms of what triggered your lapse — whether it’s losing your temper in a meeting, withdrawing from your social life, drinking too much or working too many hours, you know when you’re on the ‘wrong’ path. Consider writing a journal of what leads up to the ‘incident’. Notice who and what are involved and notice where you can exercise choice — and where you choose not to.
Get creative with ways to counter your unwanted behaviour. Create a mind-map or write a list of 20 things you could do to support your desired change. Pick your top 5 and make sure they’re on hand so you can implement them when needed.
You can also do this as a preventative measure. Rather than waiting for a lapse, use negative imagining to help you devise mitigating strategies while the going’s good. When we’re going for a big change, a little constructive paranoia can go a long way.