The single most difficult challenge we have faced in our consulting and coaching practice is how to help our clients make and sustain the changes they have identified as critical to their success. It is a struggle in all change management but it’s particularly poignant for individuals who understand cognitively what they need to do, but who find (over and over) that they fall back into the patterns they have relied on for much of their lives.
It’s important to normalize this: humans do what they have always done because habit is our friend – it makes us more efficient and gives our brains a rest from new decisions and difficult tasks. But when you are trying to learn new skills, approach people in new ways, and find greater success in your work, family, and community it seems that habit challenges you at every turn. Add the challenges of the new economy (where the world feels a bit crazy and out of control) to the ongoing demands of work and you will find that you have a tendency to rely on habit even more then usual.
As consultants and coaches we’ve offered clients a number of approaches to overcoming habits – they were good ideas but often added another level of learning to their original goal for change. Then, we came upon the simplicity (and genius) of the fundamental pause. The fundamental pause is an active moment of pausing and considering if what you are about to do or say is in alignment with your goals. We have found that if you pause regularly (and reflect on your intentions) while you are working to change your patterns, learn new skills, and claim your power; your learning increases exponentially, other’s experiences of you change dramatically, and you become the center of your life in powerful and effective ways.
Remember, New Years resolutions are based on a moment, a pause really, in which you determined what you wanted out of the New Year. Keeping those resolutions (any resolution, goal or vision) requires that you pause over and over again in order to keep habit from slipping in and eroding your resolve to enact different behaviors. The power is in the pause.