Behavior Change Hack - Jill Saunders

the Jill Saunders blog

Behavior Change Hack

Behavior Change

January 24, 2021

It’s that time of year when our best intentions to change a behavior or commit to a resolution may be waning. I’d like to share a behavior change model that I have used with leaders for years that may give you a new angle and hopefully a new level of commitment. The model is called the Learning Ladder, and here’s how it works:

  • Whenever we set out to learn something new or make a behavior change we follow a predictable process.
  • At the very beginning, we are in a place of being Blissful. Blissful about the change we want to make or the behavior change we want to learn. We don’t know what we don’t know. We are unaware or unconscious.
  • Then, something happens and we become Aware that we’d like to make a change or learn something new. This is where we look in the mirror and say to ourselves, “Let’s do it”, and we embark on the process of behavior change. Here we are consciously incompetent.
  • The next step on the ladder is Awkward. Here is where we are trying the new behavior out, we practice the new commitment. Our results here could be described as Awkward, not natural. We have spotty success. The new behavior isn’t part of our DNA yet. So we have to think about what we are doing, we are consciously competent. It typically doesn’t feel good here, a new groove is being created in our neuroplasticity.
  • Here’s the hack that I’d like for you to consider. To move from being Awkward at a new behavior to having it be Automatic requires Practice. Here we consciously practice, over and over again, until the new behavior or resolution becomes Automatic to us. We need to be very intentional about practicing the new behavior until we reach a level of it being Automatic, where we are unconsciously competent. At Automatic we have rewired our neuroplasticity.
  • So intentional practice is the magic that moves us up the ladder until the new behavior is Automatic and part of our way of being. Over the years of coaching leaders, I have found that logs/tracking pages/bullet journals are a great structure to use when practicing. It’s a way to acknowledge and track the success of your intentional, conscious practicing. It takes intentional practice to reap the rewards and reach being Automatic.

This week, re-connect with what is most important to you. Get clear on those Daily Practices that help you to stay centered and resilient. Identify the inspired and imperfect actions that will move you forward. Track your progress on this bullet journal:

I have seen over the years where intentional, conscious practice can move you from being Awkward to a level of Automatic, where the behavior change is integrated. Too often people give up when they don’t see success in the Awkward zone, and they quit their efforts.

I hope this new angle may give you some insight. Practicing is a beautiful way to create the desired changes in your life!

With love,


  1. […] be treating yourself well. This awareness is a first step towards greater self-care. (Check out my blog post here on the process we go through to make a change, awareness is where it […]

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