by Dawn-Marie Turner, PhD, CMC
Planning to lose weight in 2011? Spend more quality time with family? Advance your career? Applying the elements of change management to your New Year’s resolution can help you be more successful in reaching your goal.
1. Confirm your need to make the change. Every change begins with need. Before taking action toward your resolution write down the answers to the following questions:
- Why do I need to make this change in my life?
- Why do I need to make it now?
- What will happen if I am not successful with this change?
2. Establish a clear outcome that you want to achieve. Be specific. Describe how you will look, and what you feel when you have achieved your goal. Write it down or draw a picture. Keep it with you and look at it at often. I mean really look at it – so that you can see and feel yourself achieving the outcome. I will often carry my outcome on a small index card or on my iPod.
3. Prepare your environment for the change. This means ensuring your environment will support the change you are trying to make.
Last year I made a resolution to become physically fit. One of the things I quickly realized was that to be successful I had to exercise. Finding the time to exercise meant rearranging of my schedule. Easier said than done. Initially I just blocked off time in my calendar. The first month that is all that happened — the time was booked in my calendar. However, each time I reallocated the time or just ignored the reminder, I acknowledged the conscious choice I was making to give up the time.
Regardless of how many times I reallocated it, I continued to schedule exercise time in my calendar. Why? Because when I was ready to take action the time was already available. If I had not prepared my environment I probably would never have taken action. Seeing the calendar item come up each week reminded me that it was not that I didn’t have time, it was that I was choosing to use it for something else. The calendar also helped to reinforce why I made the resolution and the outcome I wanted to achieve.
4. Adopt the language of the change you want to create. Change begins with language. Both our internal and external conversations shape our view of the change and our transition. Pay particular attention to your internal conversation – ensure it supports your change journey.
5. Asses your readiness for the transition you will need to make. Every change requires us to leave the comfort of what we know and move into the unknown. When adopting change we all move through the continuum of change. This continuum consists of five phases: no problem, awareness, discovery, implementation, and new steady state. The continuum represents your change journey, and there are no short cuts. Learning to assess where you are in your change journey is a powerful tool that can help you achieve success.
6. Create a plan. Not just a list of activities but a plan that supports your journey. See tips 1-5.
7. Celebrate your successes – even the little ones. Maintaining your New Year’s resolution is a journey, not an event. Peter Drucker once said when we focus on our strengths, our weaknesses become irrelevant.