How to Ask for Support with Habit Evolution
As you are changing your habits, it’s simply kind to inform others. Not only does that help you stay accountable to yourself by having others know, it also gives your people a heads-up. The real boon here is that you can also deliberately and specifically ask for support.
In asking, we are humbled. We admit that we are interdependent, not isolated, and that we affect each other. Let me show you the simplest most effective way I’ve found to mobilize support. And, you’ll be more likely to support others on their growth paths once you know this strategy. Follow these steps:
- Determine the habit you want to have. Be specific: e.g., go to bed by 9 p.m. Or, wake up and workout for 20 minutes before 7:30 a.m.
- Determine who may be affected by or influence your habits, consciously or unconsciously. Write your list, including people you live with, dependents, friends, colleagues, and influencers in the media.
- Schedule five-minute check-in.
If you have access to the people who influence you, ask them if you can schedule a quick meeting with them about a habit you are trying to change. Scheduling the meeting for a neutral time. You want their full attention; don’t slip try to slip this into a casual conversation or throw it into an argument. If you have children, you can schedule meetings with them too.
Here are some guidelines to get your five-minute check-in started.
At the meeting:
- Tell the person the why behind the habit you want to change. For example, Rose who I brought up in Habit 3, told her partner, “I am really tired when I put the two-year-old to bed. My body just wants to be done with the day and go to sleep. This may sound wacky, but I want to start going to sleep then, or whenever my body signals it’s done with the day.”
- Ask the person if they are willing to support you in this habit change. Often your change in habits affects other people. Be clear on what will be affected, and how you want to manage those effects. In Rose’s case, by going to sleep earlier she wouldn’t help finish the dishes or laundry or connect in an adult conversation with her husband. Once you know what is at stake for this habit to change—for all parties—you can ask for informed support.
- Determine specific ways you want support.
- Giving support is absurdly easy when the person knows exactly what they can do. If necessary, brainstorm to figure out what that is. Asking for a specific, non-snarky reminder is often the easiest and most effective way for your influencers to support you. I ask my husband to remind me that I’d rather have a raw ginger ball instead of whatever he is having for dessert. I ask him to remind me in an emotionally neutral way. Not teasing. Not cajoling. Just reminding me. You can use the trigger, habit, reward method around support.
- Example using an emotional trigger
- When you hear me talking too fast, will you remind me to take a deep breath?
- Example of using an activity trigger (Note here how you can also ask people to not offer you things you are trying to consume less of.)
- If you are getting drinks, I’d like hot water with lemon. Please don’t ask me if I want a glass of wine. That would be a tremendous help.
Rose asked her husband to support her new bedtime habit. He determined he would finish the dishes while she put the two-year-old and herself to bed. After a few check-ins, they decided to invest $50 a week in household services. They found a responsible high school student who could do light housework and play with the two-year-old for a few hours on the weekend while they took a hike with the baby. They got in their adult conversation. Rose began to get the sleep she needed.
After a few months of going to bed when her body first signaled fatigue in the evening, Rose woke up feeling rested. It took months. Eventually, she woke up wanting to breathe and move. Now, her breath body practice could move into center stage, yet early to bed remained her keystone habit.
You can evolve your relationship habits and dynamics like any other habit change.
Be creative. Experiment and take risks as you go along. See what works for you and your peeps. That is it. That is how you ask for support in your habit evolution.