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When There's a Fork in the Road

TIGNUM Thoughts

May 11th, 2019
By Chris Males

When we work with clients, we try to help them understand that they have over 1,000 choices every day, each of which will either maximize their impact or decrease it. These choices are forks in the road showing the intersection of two very distinct directions. One path leads to a new future where they create new habits and behavioral patterns to become their very best; the other path leads to a default future where they will likely end up in survival mode.

This metaphorical fork in the road helps us visualize the complex concept of behavioral change. After all, the older we get, the more hardwired our reactions to triggers can become. It's all too easy to set off on the well-worn path we’ve been treading on for years. If we've experienced great successes, they further reinforce our beliefs that our ways forge the correct path, squashing curiosity for alternative options.

These familiar paths start to form patterns that don't always serve your best interests. Whether it's becoming defensive during feedback sessions, putting off your movement program to the tomorrow that never comes, increasing brain fog and fatigue, or decreasing productivity, the truth is that these paths can hurt you later in your professional life.

Even though behavioral change can be complex, it doesn't have to be the path of most resistance. At TIGNUM, we believe that the best type of change is effortless change. This comes from recognizing these frequent forks in the road and following this simple sequence:

  1. Recognize when a fork in the road is approaching. Become highly aware of your triggers so that you know when it's time to choose between the new path or your familiar path. Events like performance reviews, commuting in traffic, and business dinners are common forks that you know are coming up in your life and you can prepare for.
  2. Practice pausing at the fork. The next step is to give your brain another option instead of your typical approach. This means controlling your emotional response so you can think logically and clearly. Take a moment to use your breathing techniques and think of the benefits you’ll attain from choosing the new path. Sometimes, just a split second can help you take control and choose your response rather than react by default.
  3. Plan in advance. What can you do to help plan for your forks in the road, and how can you take one small step down the new path? If you find yourself throwing your movement plan out the door on business trips, try planning for this fork in the road. As soon as you enter the hotel room, unpack and change into your gym clothes before heading to the fitness room. Planning to do this ahead of time means you're already taking that first step down a new path.

By visualizing your behavioral change as a fork in the road, you're helping your brain by giving it a quick alternative option when you're confronted with your common triggers.

As one of our clients recently said, "At times you cannot choose your first thought, but you can practice choosing your second thought. Therefore, you can choose your first action."

We totally agree.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Other Thoughts

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