By Valerie Driscoll, Lead Coach and Coaching Program Developer for Apollo Health

Recently, I unearthed a time capsule: in the back of a closet, behind my long-ago stored wedding dress, was a box of T-shirts packed away sometime in the early ‘90s. A few were still in good enough shape for workouts or cleaning or another pandemic, so I saved them. One of the best gems is from Nike with the original ‘Just Do It’ logo. Although not in the best of shape, I still kept it, mostly to remind myself of a jettisoned mindset from my younger days.

What I remember most about that slogan and the ad campaign was how bad it made me feel because I was not a “Just Do It” kind of girl at that time, and quite frankly, I still am not, but now I know better. That ‘just’ was the tricky bit because it made it seem as if the “do it” was so very simple. While that is certainly true for some, what I have learned helping others with the “how” of change in my role as a coach, is that for so many, the devil is in the “do it.” While this devil affords me constant employment, I also witness the suffering that comes for those with the mindset that change is as easy as just doing it. Coupled with this is the fact that there are so many stories of “success” out there that clients often come to me with a list of books, and blogs and podcasts detailing formulas for success that have worked so well for others but have not worked for them. Because we have brains hard-wired through evolution to compare our change or lack of it to the success and capabilities of others, they believe themselves to be failures. These are my favorite people with whom to work, probably because I was one of them.

In every case, the first change that needs to happen is one of mindset. A proper mindset is vital because it acts as the container for the change work that needs to be done. When in a moment of being challenged or stuck, it holds us in place. In sticking to my T-shirt slogan, this means extending the idea of “just do it” to “just do it your way,” You see, change for any of us is a process of learning what does and does not work for whom we are as individuals, rather than trying to emulate the method of change of another. This mindset fosters the habit of becoming curious and compassionate with ourselves as to what works well for us and what does not, learning equally from wins as from failures.

My individual work and the work the coaching team does here with Apollo Health uses this mindset to help those wanting to adopt the ReCODE Protocol to build a set of skills that works for them as individuals, using their unique set of strengths as well as areas of challenge. This “just do it your way” approach is a proven method toward sustained habit-change success. In our PreCODE+ and ReCODE+ programs, we present a panoply of evidence-based skills which allows participants to build what we euphemistically refer to as a “toolbox” for themselves. This process works so well because rather than the rigidity of a “just do it” mindset, having a variety of skills allows this change process to be dynamic and expansive. In addition, it promotes facing challenges as a way of building and exercising new skills instead of viewing them as a roadblock. 

Fellow coach, Samantha Anderson, reminded me during a recent conversation that the Nike logo contains a swoop rather than a dot and that building true change means that we can be anywhere along that swoop. As I sit here in my ancient, stained T-shirt, finishing this piece — which I struggled a little to “just do,” I am grateful for the skills of my own personal swoop and my chance to share them with other “non-justers.”

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