Check out those transformation photos of my sister (and client), Jenny. Pretty impressive, right? Most people, when they see progress photos like these, the first thing they want to know is, “How did you do it?”
Translation: “What diet are you on?” and/or “What exercise program are you following?”
Most programs will tell you what to eat, what to avoid, and how to train. But, if you think about it, most of us know WHAT to do. We just aren’t doing it consistently. Right? We do not need more information. In fact, we have too much information. We are inundated with it.
While Jenny has committed to working out consistently and eating a clean diet, there is so much more going on than you could even imagine. Possibly even more than she is aware of – consciously at least.
She doesn’t have stronger willpower or more knowledge about nutrition than she had 6 months ago.
From where I stand, the biggest changes have taken place in her habits, beliefs, and identity.
This is where Habit Change Coaching – a.k.a. Transformational Coaching - comes in.
THE HABIT CHANGE COAHING METHOD
Habit change coaching incorporates evidence-based coaching principles such as motivational interviewing, neurolinguistic programming, positive psychology, the science of habit change, mindfulness practices, and many other modalities that might bore you if I were to go on and on and on.
The Habit Change Coaching Method (HCCM) is about facilitating lasting transformation. It’s about helping people make positive changes in their lives that support well-being.
We call this Transformational Coaching. Think of Transformational Coaching as this giant umbrella that commissions the three levels of change, which are:
Today I want to dive into the first level of change: We call these habits. We tend to use behaviors and habits interchangeably. Why do we put so much emphasis on habit change? Because habits are the number one determiners of your quality of life.
When you change a habit, you change the course of your life. Most people have a pretty good idea of some important changes they would like to make in their lifestyle. But the powerful pull of habit keeps them stuck.
Habit change is the hottest topic in health care today. Doctors’ number one problem with successful outcomes is – Can you guess?? – Patient compliance. That’s a fancy way of saying that they tell people what to do, but people don’t do it, even though their health may depend on it.
Why? Because old habits die hard. Habits are literally wired into our brains. Neuroscience is showing us that changing habits is not as simple as making a New Years’ Resolution. Functional MRI research has shown us the brain in action. And we’ve discovered that our strongest habits have formed neural pathways there. The neurons that fire together, wire together.
So, when a client is attempting to change a daily habit that they’ve performed thousands of times over 10 or 20 years, it’s no wonder they find it challenging to change. That’s why giving a client a list of what to eat and what not to eat might get a short-term result but won’t facilitate lasting change. Our approach is not about quick fixes, it’s about lasting change. And for that lasting change to occur, we’ve got to start with habits.
WHAT ARE HABITS?
Habits are simply automated behaviors. Many of the habits with which we live our lives are efficient ways of behaving, saving us time and energy. For example, I wake up. I go to the bathroom and brush my teeth pretty much the same way without really thinking about it. It’s a routine.
If you had to concentrate on backing your car out of the driveway every single time you did it, or if you had to concentrate on how to drive to work every morning, you wouldn’t have time to invent fire, and video games, and all the other things that your brain does while you’re doing your habit. That’s the magic of habits is that our brain stops working around that behavior. It frees up mental activity for other things.
Now, some habits have a neutral impact on our well-being. Other habits are health promoting. And then there are those ingrained habits that are health destroying and have a severe negative impact on our level of wellness.
HOW IS THE HCCM DIFFERENT?
The basis of most coaching models is to
Identify a client’s wants and obstacles.
Idenify ways to remove those obstacles.
This is a good start, but it has critical missing elements. What happens at this point is that this creates a temporary breakthrough, which feels good in the moment for the client because they seem to have this grand aha, but the old patterns will start rushing back.
If the coach doesn’t know how to facilitate deep, lasting transformation, then they must create the same breakthrough over and over again. We call this the fake breakthrough – or the fakethrough. Eventually, these temporary, feel-good breakthroughs will stop working.
The secret is to change someone’s experience without them having to remember to be different.
When you’re different without having to remember to be different, you’re doing something similar to a neurological restructuring on an identity level. So, habits are not just something you do. They actually become who you are. This is the magic.
THAT BRINGS US TO IDENTITY. True behavior change is identity change - or who you are "being". It’s not about willing yourself to go to the gym every day. It’s not about depriving yourself of foods you love. It’s about becoming the kind of person who chooses healthy living because it’s who you are. When looking to make positive changes in our lives, we need to understand the role that our “identity” plays in driving our behavior.
...Enter Transformational Coaching.