When you think of scales, probably any number of images come to mind: scales of justice, scales on a reptile, bathroom scales, those dreaded scales in a doctor’s office, scales on a survey/questionnaire, etc. The above image is the scale I want to talk about today.
What is scaling? Scaling is a way to name and focus a situation. In some ways, scaling temporarily removes the emotion of a situation and helps create a plan to move forward. Scaling is also a great way to make sure you are on the same page as someone, like a family member, partner, coworker, supervisor, etc.
What do I mean? Well, a scale is linear. You can draw it on a piece of paper. You can put as many numbers as possible. 1-10 is nice because it makes the solution, or goal, seem within reach. A scale of 1-100 can feel daunting in some situations, but in other situations, you may need that many steps laid out to get to your goal. The point is that you find a scale that works for you. I recently witnessed a classmate use a scale of 1-10 with a child she was coaching. The 10 on the scale represented great classroom behavior that the child would model consistently. She and the student discussed the scale and the end goal and where he was at currently (they both agreed he was at a 4 on the scale). They took time to celebrate the fact that he was at a 4 on the scale and not a 3 (clearly he was being successful in some areas of his classroom behavior, which she pointed out as a way to build his confidence in his abilities). Then they discussed what it would take to get him to a 5 (e.g. what behaviors and actions would he display at a level 5 that he was not currently exhibiting at a 4). However, he was struggling to get to a 5 and needed some extra motivation, so they broke the scale down even further and added a 4.25, 4.5, 4.75 to get him to the 5. It worked! A scale does not have to be perfect. A scale is adaptable as we are adaptable. Feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and unmotivated is a great indicator that you might need to break the steps down even more. The goal of a scale is to celebrate success and to keep you moving forward.
How do you scale? Start by drawing a line and marking 1-10 on the line. Figure out what the situation, goal, hope, dream, behavior, etc. is that you are working on or toward. Make the 10 the ultimate goal and get specific, so what will being a 10 on the scale look like, feel like, be like for you? The more details the better because you can use those details to help you assess where you are at currently and to create steps to get you to a 10. You can even write all of this down next to the 10 as a reminder of what you are aiming for personally. Then the 1 on the scale represents the opposite of this goal. Once you have this figured out, circle where you think you are at on the scale. Then ask yourself the following questions: what makes me a ____ on the scale and not one point lower? If you are at a 1, then give yourself props for working on this goal (we all have to start somewhere). Then ask yourself: what would it take to raise my number by one point? What else would it take? If you tend to be really hard on yourself and need help getting a better assessment of your situation, ask your loved ones where they would rate you on your scale and why? What do they see as your strengths and what do they see as a next step to get you to the next higher number?
A scale is creative and a great way to get unstuck.
You can apply scaling to ANYTHING. Get creative.
I used scaling with my boss to make sure we were on the same page about a huge event that we had finished in March. I asked him on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is us knocking the event out of the park and it was a huge success, and 1 is the opposite, where would he rate the event? He said a 7 and I agreed. Then we discussed why it was a 7 and not a 6, and what it would take to get the event to a 10. It was a great check-in opportunity that did not point fingers or cast blame, but the discussion gave me clear, concrete goals for future events.
Scaling also creates buy-in. So if you are working on a scale with someone, then you both have investment in the success of the scale. The process is about your perception of the scale. There is no right or wrong answer because if you disagree with your co-creator about the current number on the scale, then you can talk about it and find out why the numbers are different. This discussion can create solutions, uncover hidden talents and strengths, and can also lead to conflict resolution as you work toward agreeing on the number.
The image above is the scale of my goal toward successfully losing weight and improving my health. I placed myself at a 3 on the scale because I recently had success and lost over 20 pounds, but I have gained some of that weight back (about 9 lbs back). My 10 is a place of peace. At a 10, I will be at my natural weight (maybe that is 145 lbs., I’m not sure, but I will feel comfortable and not have unhealthy weight around my middle). I will be better at moderation at a 10 and will choose to eat healthy foods to fuel my person. My emotional addictions to food will have minimal power over my behaviors at a 10, and food will be about fuel instead of comfort. To get to a 4 on the scale, I am trying to exercise for 30 minutes daily. 30 minutes is not enough to significantly get me to lose weight with the food I’m eating, but 30 minutes feels achievable and I want to build on success. 30 minutes also feels less overwhelming with everything I have going on in my life. To get to a 4, I am also working to reduce the number of points I eat per week. I am not trying to be perfect but just eat a bit less. I have been overeating by over 100 points a week on Weight Watchers, so if I can only overeat by 60-70 points, that would be a win and get me to a 4. I will work to build on that success so I stay motivated to keep working toward my 10.