Thinking about making resolutions for change in 2019? Change is a process, not an event. Rather than making radical, life changing decisions, focus instead on making small, subtle changes that steer you in the new direction.
Steering course for change is a bit like steering a ship: Steer just a few degrees one way, you completely alter its direction. Over the course of a long journey, it may end up hundreds of kilometres from where it would have without that slight adjustment. Turn too sharply and you might capsize, but a slow gentle change will get you where you want to be.
Small changes lead to big results
The focus on modest, achievable goals provides tangible markers on the road to success and helps to build confidence. But what does this look like when applied to your everyday habits? Here’s Susan David’s ways to make ‘tiny tweaks’ that add up to big change:
The No-Brainer: Switch up your environment so that when you’re hungry, tired, stressed, or rushed, the choice most aligned with your goal is also the easiest. If you want to be on time for meetings, then set yourself up for success by ensuring that all of your work appointments are scheduled in your calendar. Set aside additional time in your calendar to focus on work you need to get completed.
The Piggyback: Add a new behavior onto an existing habit. To continue with the being on time example, this might mean setting aside some time in the morning meeting to plan your day.
The Pre-commitment: Anticipate obstacles and prepare for them with “if-then” strategies. If my phone rings just as I’m about to leave my desk for a meeting, I’ll resolve to let it go to answer phone and pick up the message later (unless its my co-worker reminding me to get to the meeting)!
The Obstacle Course: Offset a positive vision with thoughts of potential challenges. In one study, researchers advised half of the participants in a weight loss program to envision themselves with new slim figures and the other half to imagine situations where they’d be tempted to cheat on their diet. A year on, the second group had shed more weight. Be honest with yourself about the distractions that cause you to be late. That way you’ll recognise them as they happen.
Want to make changes in the year ahead? Think evolution, not revolution. Learn more on our Self-Leadership for Success course.