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Importance of Start, Stop and Continue Behaviors in our lives

In life we always do certain things. While we consciously do good things, we are also prone to do many incorrect or bad things even unconsciously, blissfully ignorant of whatever we do under such circumstances. Yet we can easily control most incorrect aspects of our behavior if we follow the Start, Stop and Continue Behaviors to identify where we go right and wrong. The finer aspects are described in this article.


When we behave in certain ways, if we have a huge check on what is going on in terms of what we do and what we do not do there will always be certain steps forward in our life. The Stop, Start and Continue Behaviors can easily be identified. Very sophisticated applied behavioral science sessions are attempted in several organizations. In our lives we just need to constantly seek feedback from our own family members and friends either individually or in groups. This is sound common sense. Particularly this is relevant to (i) learning from our past (ii) connecting the dots (iii)drawing up action plans and (iv) ensuring continuity.

Learning from the past

The past is often a big barometer of our good and bad behaviors. While we cannot remember too many behaviors, it is quite possible that someone close to us can easily spot whatever we did right and wrong in specific circumstances. For example if we had helped the old people in an old age home, someone would point out this. This would related to "Continue"behavior. In fact we should start only with all that was positive. Once done we should identify the "Stop"behaviors. For example, in most cases this will relate to our wild swings in moods, as also bad temper more so with those who are economically and socially weaker than us. If such behavior was pointed out to us, we should wake up immediately and take corrective action. There is nothing wrong in taking some notes in this regard. Once we do this we will have an accurate idea of what went wrong and how more so in the past week.

This will help us immensely. Take this example. A friend of mine ventilated all his office frustration on his wife and the hapless servant maid. While the wife was really put off, the servant maid did the worst -- she shouted back on her husband for some silly reason and got beaten up. A neighbor of this family narrated the entire story to my friend, who was dejected. He took not only my help but also another HR Manager, who happened to be his relative. Counseling made him take leave for three days. He just took off to his native village where his anger had died down. He was now a far better man. He had met with some old friends and when he had shared his story, they had given their ideas too. Patience and a good ability to stay calm are two vital inputs in such situations.

For the next three months, he used all his lessons learned on "stop"behaviors. His role in an accounts department audit in a foreign location earned him some praise. This also helped. He had gone some two steps ahead in his journey of "stop" behaviors.

It later transpired that this fellow, who was otherwise good had actually made a donation of five thousand rupees to an ashram maintaining very old and poor people. The ashram authorities came calling and those close to him impressed on him to give the money once again. This amount had the appropriate deduction under the Income Tax as well. Hence my friend, had a nice review of the "continue"behavior as well.

Being physically agile, this person was also called upon to do gardening in his own house and also get involved in a local environmental project of planting so many trees within two months. He had given one excuse after another. However the changed atmosphere brought him some relief and he plunged into this work as well.

This is what can happen when we are focused. Please do note that our concentration should be on the three triggers of "Stop, Start and Continue" all at the same time. We cannot afford to do one thing and then take up another and so on. This will result in not having any focus and purpose. Good things need to happen in a jiffy and shedding of the bad also has to happen immediately. The "Start"trigger can be immediately applied for new initiatives.

Connecting the dots

Connecting the dots simply means relating to the three sets of behaviors at the same time and being very much focused. For instance, in the above case the rejuvenation in his native village helped a great deal. Only when our mind is very calm, we can understand where we go wrong. In fact the Westerners have understood this message of our Indian philosophy so well. The process is sold for millions by our Swamijis, particularly in the USA. Ordinary souls like us in India need not go after such costly therapies, all of which are essentially elitist in nature. We can easily understand the fundamentals through experience as we go along. However help and advise from others is an absolute must. None of us can individually do anything at all.

Hence when we see the connection between our three sets of behaviors it is quite possible to have a particular focus. The behavioral scientists talk about this as "self-awareness" in its prime state. However it is enough for us to be aware of the three sets of behaviors and how each is connected with the other. For instance if we had given up bad temper at least for a greater part of our situations, our minds would have been calmer at least to that extent. It is only then can we initiate the "start" behavior process. It requires constant practice and if sincerely done, can work wonders in each of us. Connecting the dots simply means looking at the three sets of behaviors all the same time and clearly understanding the connection between them. The dynamic relationship between the thee sets of behaviors should be clear to us at any point in time.

Drawing up action plans

In anything that is connected to behavior, it is pointless to have action plans for more than fifteen days at a stretch. We cannot even have one month action plans. Life is a lot more complicated. For instance if we are held up in our office for more than eighteen hours for a couple of months, it is pointless to even think of doing anything big. In such a situation, it is fine if we stay too much focused only on "stop"behaviors both at home and in the office. After all, we might as well get hardly six hours on Sundays with our families in such situations. Hence if the "stop"behavior is all about controlling our anger, or our loose tongue, we better stay focused on this. The "continue" behavior will follow. For example if we had resisted the temptation to talk about others and keep our loose tongue under check for four full days, this is itself a great achievement. We will have had some great deal of work. However we need to note down the chain of events in a dairy. For example if we had stayed away from those mischief mongers who had actually got us into some trouble in this regard, that should be noted down. This will help us review and take action. Hence fifteen days action plans are fine, even in normal circumstances.

Ensuring continuity

This is the toughest part of the entire process. For instance, if there are some people hell bent on creating office politics, our attention will be diverted. We should then stay away from such politics, so that we are sure about our path on the vital three sets of behaviors. It should be noted that each of these behaviors are so important to start a fresh lease of life.

In reality no one is an angel. Every human being is a bundle of total contradictions. Even the worst people do have some good strengths. They would have glaring weaknesses too. Hence, even we understand them in all their full personalities, it is vital that we stay focused. For instance if we had taken a good amount of feedback from our some elders totally unknown to anyone in the office, so be it. We just need to concentrate on our work so that we can escape the politics. However the change process is entirely ours and should be kept totally confidential. We need to be street smart here.


Our behavior is the only index with which all people judge us. While we do show our emotions and feelings, our thoughts are always so confidential and we tend to bury them in our deepest minds. However positive behavior using the Stop, Start and Continue steps, can make us far better human beings. It will positively make us healthier to take on life's real world challenges with a lot more confidence. In these changing times, we all need to do this.


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