It seems like everyday I hear someone declaring that they are going to make a change in their life. Whether it’s working out more, eating right, ending a bad habit or removing themselves from negative influences, change is always apart of our outlook at one point or another.
The downside is that most of us know exactly what we need to do to initiate the change, but we rarely take the correct steps toward our new goals. Is it that we love to make excuses or do we hesitate because we have become complacent with our situations?
Paloma Vazquez takes a look at six keys to changing almost anything that Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project proposed. Below are her summaries of each of the key points Schwartz’ propositions:
Be highly precise and specific: Don’t just propose to run 3 times a week. Commit to running 3 miles starting at 6.30 am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. If you skip a day, you’re likelier to make it up. These commitments are referred to by researchers as ‘implementation intentions’.
Take on a single new challenge at a time: Establish new routines and practices to accomplish your goals – but focus on one new behavior at a time (sequentially), until it becomes automatic.
Not too much, not too little: Challenging your current comfort zone is the only way to grow. But find a middle ground: challenge yourself enough that it’s actually a challenge – but not so much that it becomes unlikely to stick to.
What you resist, persists: Avoid your temptations. The less likely you are to have to think about a decision (to eat, or not to eat? To nibble or indulge?), the more successful you’ll be.
Recognize (and expect) competing commitments: Every commitment to change is counterbalanced by a competing inertia and desire to stay in one’s comfort zone. To surface your competing commitment, Schwartz suggests: ‘Think about a change you really want to make. Now ask yourself what you’re currently doing or not doing to undermine that primary commitment. If you are trying to get more focused on important priorities, for example, your competing commitment might be the desire to be highly responsive and available to those emailing you.’ In others words, identify what you may be doing to procrastinate – and minimize those costs you may be creating to keep you from changing behavior.
Keep the faith: If you fall, brush yourself off and try again. Take consolation in the fact that the average person launches a change effort six separate times before it finally takes. Then re-read the steps above, and try again.