I was talking to a client recently who bemoaned the fact that a presentation she had given ”felt like I regressed.” She was frustrated that she had rushed, not landed her thoughts, and generally not done as good a job as she thought she was capable of.
Think about cleaning out your attic or basement or closet. It gets worse before it gets better. There’s a moment about halfway through, when the energy of beginning has worn off and now you’re surrounded by boxes and dust and junk, when you think, “Ugh, this is awful and now it’s way more of a mess than it was when I just ignored it.” But now there’s nothing to do but continue.
The same is true when we are working on becoming more intentional communicators. The habits we have accumulated over the years have to be pulled out and assessed—do I need this? What does it do for me? Do I have space for it? If we’re just cleaning out the attic, this process can be done in a day or a weekend. A trip to Goodwill and one to the dump, and you’re good to go. But clearing out old habits takes longer.
As we look at these habits, we become way more aware of them and how they show up in our bodies and voices and minds. As we work to shift them, they hold on. We improve, then backslide. But as I told my client, this is exactly how we make progress. You can learn every time you fall into an old habit—what were the circumstances? What was my intention? Who was there? What did it feel like was at stake? We chip away at it until it’s just a memory.