Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Being Aware of Your Triggers

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith discusses triggers, where they come from, and how we can modify our reactions to them for better results.

I have a theory. If I interview almost anyone I work with and ask them a question, "Who's the you, you'd like to be?" I always get such a positive response to this. Hard working, dedicated, high integrity, great family person, in perfect physical condition, healthy diet, works out. What happens?
What happens is we journey through life. What is the disconnect between this me that I think I want to be, and the me that actually shows up every day. Well, by February the gym is empty. Employees are more disengaged than ever before. Many people and teams aren't achieving their personal goals. Why?
As we journey through life we're constantly bombarded by triggers. Now, what is a trigger? A trigger is any stimulus that might impact our behavior. Could be a sight, a sound, a word, a person.
Sometimes these triggers push us towards becoming the person we want to be. More often than not, just the opposite. They push us away from becoming that person that we want to be.
Very important as you journey through life to anticipate what are the triggers that set you off. When is it that you start engaging in behavior that really isn't the behavior that you want to engage in? Start analyzing your behavior every day. Keep track of every time you go off course. Every time you start behaving in a way that's inconsistent with the you you wanna be.
When you starting not to achieve your goals. When the time you're spending isn't helping you to get to where you want to go. Then start looking at why. Why. What you're almost gonna always see is there's a trigger. A phone call, a person, a sound, a sight. Something. And by understanding these triggers, we can do three things.
First, you can start anticipating. I wanna quit drinking. Don't hang around bars. Anticipate this is not going to help me.
Unfortunate case study is people that have drug problems, they go through rehab. They get better. They quit taking the drugs. They sincerely believe they're going to change. But what happens if you put them back in that old environment with those old triggers? They almost invariably become drug addicts again. So very important learn to anticipate.
When I'm in this environment here are the triggers that occur, and here's how I'm going to get off course. Learn to anticipate what are the triggers that throw you away from becoming the person you want to be.
Second, learn to avoid. If you know when you're in this particular environment the triggers are going to push you away from becoming the person you know you want to be. The person you know you should be. Learn to avoid it.
If you want to quit drinking, avoid the bars. You want to quit taking drugs, avoid people that take drugs. Avoid, if at all possible.
Finally, if we cannot avoid, and sometimes we can't. Sometimes we're just in environments where we know there are going to be triggers that tend to set us off. Learn to adjust. Learn to adjust our behavior so that we know the trigger is coming. We know it's going to lead to the inappropriate behavior in many cases. Learn to react in a different way to the trigger. So then our behavior becomes a function of choice not a function of this impulse.
As we journey through life, typically what happens there's a trigger, the trigger leads to an impulse, the impulse leads to behavior.
The whole point of my book Triggers is quite simple. It says there are always going to be triggers. If we can stop and breathe, become aware of what's happening, then we become mindful. Then we think, I'm aware. I realize what's going on with me. Then I have a choice.
Well, then our behavior becomes a function of the choice. So instead of trigger, impulse, behavior, we have trigger, impulse, awareness, choice, behavior. To the degree you can learn the triggers that set you off. Learn to breathe, relax, calm down, and realize the trigger may not change. My choice is how I react to this trigger. To the degree you can do that, you're going to be much more likely to become the person you want to become not become the person the environment is creating.