When you are working on a change effort, implementation is key. Many people forget about this point. They might want to lose weight, for example, and come up with a great plan that is guaranteed to lose one pound of fat per week. The plan might be the best plan ever, but if it’s too difficult to implement (e.g., too hard or painful), they might quit after a few days, and the change effort fails.
Let’s say you have two different diet and exercise plans. Plan A (if followed correctly) causes one pound of fat loss per week, but because it is so difficult, only 20% of people continue to implement the plan after one month. Plan B isn’t quite as good—it only causes ½ pound of fat loss per week. But the implementation rate is higher. Because it isn’t as difficult, 50% of people continue to implement the plan after one month. If you are picking between the two plans, Plan B is actually the better option. It doesn’t seem better at face value. (At face value, Plan A seems twice as good as Plan B.) But you aren’t considering the implementation rates.
I remember reading a book once that recommended immersion in cold water to help speed up fat loss. It seemed like an interesting addition to my exercise and diet routine, so I tried it out. Unfortunately, I hadn’t considered the implementation rate, and I quit the plan after three days. Although it seemed like a great plan at face value, taking a cold shower every day was just too uncomfortable for me. I wasn’t able to implement it for the long haul, even though it seemed like a good idea. The plan just wasn’t for me.
Next time you are considering a change effort, make sure you consider the implementation rate. How likely are you to be able to integrate this plan into your daily life? What are the chances you will continue this plan one week from now, one month from now, or one year from now? If your estimate of the implementation rate is low, it might be worth trying to find a different plan.