With less than 60 days left of this decade, are you where you want to be?
On a global scale, there’s a lot that has happened in the past decade, from Barack Obama launching his presidency, through a series of natural disasters, terrorist attacks and Euro meltdown to the legalising of gay marriage and the rise of Bitcoin and online streaming. No doubt you’ve gone through personal highs and lows over the past decade too. What has this past decade taught you? Are there any changes or tweaks you would like to make before the new decade begins? Then the time is now. Of course, change is rarely easy, and study after study shows how most New Year’s resolutions fail. Here are some tools and guidelines for implementing change to help you reach goals and create the life you want.
Be precise and specific
People generally have positive intentions, but often fail to act on them. Implementation intention is a strategy to offer a practical solution for such a problem. The concept, which was introduced by psychologist Peter Gollwitzer is that a person will perform better when set goals are challenging and specific as compared to goals that are challenging but vague. For example, a goal such as losing weight is challenging and vague, whereas a goal of doing a cardio class Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7pm is challenging and specific.
Keep it manageable
Start small and keep it simple. Before you commit to a plant-based diet, going carbon-neutral, daily meditation, climbing Everest, launching a business, writing a book and adopting six greyhounds, set one small goal that you can realistically achieve. As you achieve each small goal, you’ll feel motivated to move to the next one.
Commit to change
Let’s face it, you probably have 101 valid reasons why you haven’t made the change just yet. But if it’s a change you a serious about making, you have to commit to it 100% no matter what happens. According to research performed by McKinsey & Company the greatest impact on a major change effort’s outcome comes from ownership of and commitment to change. Other factors that impact change include the ability to focus on a prioritised set of changes, planning from day one for long term changes and sufficient resources to execute changes, amongst others.
Immunity to change
Researchers Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey wrote in the Harvard Business Review about the psychological dynamic called a “competing commitment” where people have a personal immunity to change. They write that this can be a sticky one to override as “it asks people to call into question beliefs they’ve long held close” as competing commitments arise from assumptions that drive behaviour unwittingly. An example of competing commitment is a person who wants a promotion at work, but whose behaviour undermines their advancement. Their advice for dealing with competing commitments involves identifying and questioning the assumptions that may be holding them back.