Yesterday I posted an invitation to The Change Agent Challenge, to try to change something about yourself and take notes. This is the series of posts on my own observations in taking on the Challenge.
“People who smoke cigarettes, they say ‘You don’t know how hard it is to quit smoking.’ Yes I do. It’s as hard as it is to start flossing.” – Mitch Hedberg
After a dentist appointment two weeks ago, I decided that I needed to start flossing. Neither the dentist nor the hygienist gave me a guilt trip about it. They obviously know that doesn’t work, and don’t bother trying.
No, I just know that I need to do it if I’m going to have my own teeth when I’m 80. Plus, it occurred to me that as a change practitioner, I should be able to figure out how to make myself start flossing! And so began the challenge.
Let’s talk motivation.
By the time you have a burning platform with flossing, it’s too late. The effects of not flossing are long-term, or at least not immediate. The risk of getting cavities or gum disease are not enough to have made me floss in the past. In fact, they found a cavity that needed filling at that appointment, and it was nowhere near the part affected by floss. So how is that for mismatched consequences!
The feeling that made me start flossing was a combination of embarrassment and a little paranoia. It was obvious in the cleaning appointment that I hadn’t been flossing, and in the middle of it I thought, “I should have remembered to floss for the last 2 weeks before this appointment so it wouldn’t be so obvious that I don’t floss.” Also, there were 5 days between the cleaning and the filling appointments, and I was sure that if I didn’t floss in between that somehow they would know and would somehow judge me. Really, I was just judging myself. Why can’t I do something that takes just moments and is so simple?
So I had successfully started flossing, but the next dentist appointment isn’t for 6 months. I had to come up with more reasons to continue flossing after the second appointment.
And really, this is it. I decided that I would blog about it in the context of The Change Agent Challenge. And if I was going to do that, I would have to keep flossing. Knowing that I would be making my intention to keep flossing public gave me a reason to continue the effort.
The primary motivator at work here is commitment. When someone makes a commitment to someone else they are more likely to meet that commitment. And so here it is: “I’m going to keep flossing.”
I’m also linking the activity to something that is more interesting to me than the activity itself. By making it a challenge about change, I’ve raised the importance level of flossing in my mind. It’s not just about my teeth any more. It’s about my ability to implement change.
My Change Agent Challenge: