Conversations at the Crossroads.

Must We Be Vigilant?

People often turn to coaching when they want to establish new habits that will help accomplish their goals. These may be habits specific to time management, paving the way for greater productivity, or habits of a more personal nature that support healthier living or a positive mindset. Working with a coach sets up accountability, which leads to more consistent follow-through. Coaching also provides an objective space to talk about what’s working, what isn’t working, and what might drive continued momentum.

As a coach, I have witnessed the habit-building success of many clients. At the same time, I have observed that there is often a moment (or even a phase) that follows a period of progress, in which one wonders whether he or she will be able to keep it up. Self-doubt creeps in, and concern develops about the possibility of “slipping into old habits.”

It’s a funny phrase, isn’t it? Slipping into old habits. In the same manner that you might slip on a banana peel and fall on your backside, you could slip and fall into an old habit. (Ouch!) In all seriousness, though, it is a very real fear of regression, and a worry that the regression might happen without any ability to anticipate or stop it.

Fear and self-doubt surfaced recently in a client conversation about maintaining healthy self-care habits. My client said, “I want to be more conscious about it. I know that I can default into a certain mode if I’m not aware. It takes a lot of vigilance.”

The word “vigilance” really struck me. Vigilance is defined as watching carefully when there is possibility of danger or difficulty. In the context of our conversation, my client was referring to herself as the perceived danger or difficulty. She didn’t trust herself or the progress that she had made. She worried about slipping.

Once the topic arose, we spent the rest of the session talking about it. I asked her about the cues that might forewarn a “slip” and compel her to recommit. She drew strength from the assertion that she was in control of her ability to stay on course.

We also talked about the importance of trust and kindness towards oneself. Perhaps there would be times when it makes sense to take an alternate approach—intentionally. Perhaps a slip would occur that in reasonable circumstances could be forgiven.

It is useful to consider what happens when we replace vigilance and self-bullying with awareness and intention. Working with this client we were able to reframe somewhat heavy-handed concepts in a way that felt more supportive. Establishing new habits can be hard enough, and a bit of positive thinking can go a long way.

How might a reframe like this make a difference when it comes to the habits you strive to sustain? If this post resonates, I would love to hear from you.

With support and encouragement for your journey,

Founder, The Crossroads Coach

Published October 19, 2016