How to change behavior in three steps

3 Steps

Thankfully, as a species and as individuals, we know that humans adapt to environmental stimuli.

Behavior changes when we (1) modify the cues (e.g. positive or negative triggers), then

(2) we change the routine (e.g. gestalt, patterns) and

(3) we include regular rewards (e.g. self-care, executive coaching and consulting)

As an example, when you (1) place a white placement at a table, and sit down to eat no more than three times a day (cue), and (2) use a 5” diameter plate that has a smaller serving size than most American restaurants, and refuse to snack (routine), then (3) your reward will be weight loss or weight management.

Same with any behavior change.


Imagine that you are stuck in an undesirable habit, and that you “know you need” some behavior change.  For instance, imagine that you desire to build resilience.

Resilience can be defined as “the capacity to adapt successfully in the presence of risk and adversity.”


As a second example, when you pause for 5 seconds before saying or doing your response (cue), using a physical trigger or new activity to anchor the new routine, such as using one hand to pull on each finger of your other hand (routine), then your reward may be guidance from your prefrontal cortex that informs you to reply in some career-enhancing manner.  You adapt successfully and build more resilience.  Get the idea?

Individual behavior changes faster when others reward us.  Find a coach or an accountability partner.  You do not need to hire an executive coach or consultant to practice behavior change.


Call Doug Gray, PCC, today at 615.905.1892.


What are you waiting for?

How to diagnose physician resilience

Physicians with resilience have:

  • Increased career satisfaction
  • Higher personal life satisfaction
  • Enhanced performance and efficacy
  • Engagement with lifelong learning
  • Skills that may be modeled and directly transferable to patients (e.g., CBT)

Thankfully, resilience can be taught and developed.

Resiliency can be defined as “the capacity to adapt successfully in the presence of risk and adversity.”


Take this quick self diagnosis for burnout and resiliency:

Take a moment to write down where you think you are on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) on these two measures. Note that burnout and resiliency are directly related and inversely related. Like any coin with two sides…

A self-diagnostic question is “How do you know if you are avoiding burnout behaviors?”

An organizational-diagnostic question is to ask your team if they have noticed you being less compassionate, hopeful and caring lately?

Or if you are daring, ask your team if they have noticed you being more abrupt, judgmental, or impatient lately?

(We are often hired to assess the degree of burnout or resiliency in a practice group.)

My experience is that these bullets are 5 reasons for you to do some work.  “Physician heal thyself” is axiomatic.   As a species, we need to make more anabolic choices than catabolic choices.

CBT is cognitive behavioral therapy, a psychological process that recognizes choice, personal strengths, and includes reqular behavioral feedback.

I hire a dentist when I need dental work; why wouldn’t you hire a psychologist when you need to develop resilience for your self or your team?