It is a common misconception that it takes an exorbitant amount of time and effort to break bad habits and replace them with healthier ones. However, with a strong, compelling reason, changing habits can take much less time than you may think. Whether it is a desire to improve your health, relationships, or overall life satisfaction, having a clear goal and a newfound motivation can be key to making lasting changes.
Spending time with close family friends on a small boat for a week was an adventure I wasn’t expecting, but one I’ll never forget. The week was full of laughter and memories, but the most unexpected thing happened when I discovered something that changed my perspective forever. It began while we were at sea for the first time and I had to take a shower. Yes, I know, a shower!
Most of us have taken a boat out on a lake or river for a day or two. But spending an entire week on a boat can be quite a different experience. Before setting off, several adjustments needed to be made to accommodate the unique conditions of living on a boat for a week. From how we used the toilet to how we took showers, there were important things to consider.
On a boat, the toilet is known as the head. Toilets on boats are usually of the marine variety, with the water supply coming from the sea or lake. These toilets don’t flush like traditional toilets but instead rely on suction and gravity to send the waste away. In this particular boat, we had to pump the waste – a minimum of 20 pumps for each toilet use. We also had a small garbage can for the used toilet paper since it couldn’t be flushed away. The toilet paper could clog the toilet and eventually end up in the seawater.
Most boats have a built-in shower, but the water supply is usually limited. In our case, we had 600 litres for the week plus any water we could salvage from rain collected on the roof of the boat. It sounds like a lot, but for five people it isn’t enough for everyone to take a quick shower every day. To take showers on the boat, water conservation was key. We had to turn off the shower when soaping up and use as little water as possible while it was running – just a trickle. Otherwise, we would run out of water for not only showers but also for washing hands and cooking.
Now being back home for the last two days, I still have to think about what I need to do with the toilet paper after I use it. Washing my hands with the water on at more than a trickle seems like a luxury, and the indulgence of having the shower pressure beyond a drizzle seems like pure bliss.
I realize now that it didn’t take long to change my ingrained habits. The change in my environment and knowing the consequences of my actions were enough to alter what I did and how I did it.
As your teams look to bring in big or small changes, consider what the consequences of not changing habits are for your end users and find ways of communicating those consequences in ways that are meaningful to them. Understanding your end users’ needs, challenges, values, and motivations is key to changing long-held habits.