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Forget forever

Near the end of the Top 10 Mistakes in Behavior Change list is #9: seeking to change a behavior forever, not for a short time. As you might expect, Fogg & gang suggest that a fixed period works better than “forever.”

Number 9 takes us back to now, the only time frame we have. As soon as we think we can change behavior tomorrow, we’re out of the world of action and into the world of fiction. We can only change behavior right now.

Yes, most of us believe we have to plan if we want to get important things done. Planning is a skeleton for action, so it turns tomorrow or next month into a wish with a deadline. Forever is such a distant horizon that it’s just a formula for frustration.

My horizon for personal planning is about one year, max. My leadership clients used to create strategic plans in 5-year increments, but I’ve not seen a 5-year plan since 2009. Most are 1 to 3 years these days. Many times, the more we plan, the less flexible and adaptable we become. We marry our plans, and then get annoyed with anything that disrupts them … and are no longer open to what’s unfolding in the moment.

So what do you want to change? And how long before you’ll want to change IT, too?