Earlier this week I invited you to take part in The Change Agent Challenge, a learning experience in which you try to change yourself and see what happens. This post is Part 2 of my own personal Challenge.
In Part 1 of My Change Agent Challenge, I discussed the ways that I increased my motivation to start and continue flossing.
Even though it’s something that I want to do, I still have a hard time remembering to do it. Since flossing is not part of the daily routine, once the autopilot is on, the new step is easily skipped.
Realizing this was happening, I started by paying attention to the autopilot itself. And when I thought about how it worked, it turns out it was counting. That’s right. Each night my brain would do a mental checklist to make sure I had done all the required activities before going to sleep. If I had forgotten to wash my face, for example, there would be a disconnect.
So, to integrate flossing into the routine, I had to consciously add a +1 to the activity count. I wrote the new number on a Post-It and put it on the mirror to try to retrain my brain on the new count.
I still found myself reaching for the toothbrush first when the new step before brushing is now supposed to be flossing. The next step in my analysis was to look at the physical environment. There were two problems.
The first was that the counter was too cluttered so I had to look for the floss each time. That’s an obvious fix. Clear off the counter so only the necessary tools are available.
The second was that the toothbrush holder was far from the rest of the floss and toothpaste. If my first instinct was to reach for the toothbrush, then the floss should be right there so I grab it instead. So, I bought a new toothbrush holder so now my husband and I don’t share one across our long counter. Now my toothbrush is right next to the sink. And the floss is right there next to it.
It takes time to retrain your autopilot, but if you pay attention to what it’s doing, you can find ways to stop and integrate new activities.
My Change Agent Challenge: