Will there be something new for you this new year? Resolutions are perhaps the most common expression of ‘new’ at the start of the year, and resolutions have a reputation for not making it out of January. There’s motivation to get us going, but often not quite enough to build any kind of momentum… and for self-driven change, we need the motivation to start things off and, to keep up the momentum long enough to reach the point where the change becomes self-fulfilling, and eventually part of life.
In business we’re more used to the idea of change – a new financial year might bring a new focus, or the release of new product may create new roles and opportunities to pursue. The motivation for the change might be customer demand, competitive pressure, or shareholder demand for growth (or the fear of financial analyst derision in larger businesses). Whichever it is, it’s often a motivator that’s ever present. Then, there might be multiple people involved in the change, either supporting each other or otherwise keeping the pressure on. There’s probably a regular progress report, describing what action has been taken and its effect since the last report… all sorts of things that together, provide enough continued motivation to push things along through the initial change phase and make it into the normal routine.
That’s not to say at work things are always that driven – what if we want to create something new or make a change that doesn’t have all that backing; something that will help us personally, or that we think will help the company, but we’d like to get started on it before getting others involved?
When I first thought about this post, I thought I’d provide some deep insights that make change stick, with a discussion of intrinsic verses extrinsic motivation and the science behind habits. But I quickly realised that in most cases, it’s the simple stuff that makes the difference. The real challenge with change, is finding the things that will keep the momentum going long enough. So, here’s five simple, but powerful, things that will help you to keep your change beyond the end of January…
- Do it with someone else or a team of others.
- If you have to do it alone, ask a friend or colleague to hold you to account – perhaps you’ll phone them once a week and update them on progress.
- Examine the reason you ‘want’ to do it – a ‘should’ is no where near as strong as a genuine ‘want’.
- Find reasons to do it that are beyond yourself – are you also doing it for your colleagues, your department, your spouse, a friend or your children? When it gets tough, think about who you’re doing it for.
- Track progress and reward yourself for progress (it’s all about progress!) – a reward might be anything from a break for cup of tea, to an evening out or a holiday.
Stick at it… Happy New Year!