If you want to form and sustain a new habit you should adopt the “7S Model”, writes Steven MacGregor for European Business Review.
Forming a new habit is hard – making sure that new habit sticks is even harder. Fortunately, Dr Steven MacGregor, founder of the Leadership Academy of Barcelona (LAB) and author of Sustaining Executive Performance (2015), has spent ten years studying sustainable behaviour change and has devised a seven-step plan for forming and sustaining a new habit. Here are the seven S’s of MacGregor’s model:
1) Small. You are ambitious – it’s why you have reached the top. But when it comes to forming a new habit, you must rein in that ambition and aim to make one minor behavioural change at a time. The key is to implement the change on a daily basis until it becomes habit, then repeat the process. The cumulative effect of these minor changes will be significant. This theory of “marginal gains” is what enabled the Great Britain Cycling Team to win 22 gold medals in the last three Olympic Games.
2) Specific. If you make a vague promise to change your behaviour, it will result in failure. You must set a specific goal. For example, rather than committing to always taking the stairs instead of the elevator, commit to taking the stairs each morning for a month. Achieving your specific goal will give you the motivation to keep going.
3) Supported. Fitting your new habit into an existing routine will make it easier to sustain that habit. For example, if your aim is to perform 30 push-ups per day, commit to performing 15 push-ups after brushing your teeth in the morning and again in the evening. The existing habit, i.e. brushing your teeth, will act as a “trigger” for the new habit.
4) Shared. “Sharing your change makes you accountable,” writes MacGregor. Share your goal with a work colleague or a family member, and they can provide helpful reminders and motivation.
5) Streak. When a sportsperson hits a winning streak, commentators will repeat the old adage “success breeds success”. It’s true. Every time you complete your new behaviour make a note of it and learn to see each successful completion as a link in a chain; the longer the chain, the harder it is to break. Apps like Chains.cc (motto: “Don’t break the chain”) can help boost a winning streak.
6) Surroundings. Redesign your surroundings to support behaviour change. For example, if you are aiming to go for a run every morning, place your running kit next to your bed so it’s the first thing you see when you wake up.
7) Social. American author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn said: “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” Ask yourself: “Who are the people who will help me the most in the formative stages of a new behaviour?” Those are the people you should be spending the most time with.
WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT
You don’t have to take all the steps in the 7S Model. It is important to experiment and find out what works best for you.