Have you tried to make performance change, change in the way you think, feel or behave for improved performance and felt you failed to achieve the outcomes you wanted?
Do you find yourself motivated to make change to improve performance, but finding the process of change so challenging, you too quickly abandon your strategies feeling defeated and frustrated?
Or do you have desires to make change but just never seem to find the time to decisively act?
Be assured, you are not alone. So why is it that making and sustaining wellbeing can feel so hard?
There are a number of things you need to be consider, to be aware of and to expect in your journey of making feeling, thinking and behavior change that will deliver you the improvement in performance you are seeking.
1. Awareness is not enough
The first step in any change journey is awareness. Awareness will provide you the impetus, the reasoning you need to have desire to making change. Awareness is critical as achieving awareness implies you acknowledge you need to make improvements, and importantly that you need to adopt different strategies to achieve the improvements you seek.
Unfortunately being aware is necessary but not sufficient. Although achieving awareness is a major step, having insight that you can improve your performance is the beginning of your change journey.
2. You need to understanding the implications
Once you choose change, it is essential you work through the pros and cons. Benefits may appear obvious, they can deliver you better concentration, improved memory, more stable mood, better quality decision making and feeling more energized, all of which will provide a foundation for a step change in your performance at work.
But to reap these benefits you also need to understand the implications. What will you need to give up, what new habits will you need to adopt and how much effort will be involved?
Being practical, realistic and thinking through what is required to enable new habits will give you the best possible chance of achieving your desired performance change.
3. Accept change takes time
What some of you may find frustrating is that all change, particularly personal change takes time. It is estimated that forty percent of what you do each day is habit, habit driven by automatic thinking.
What is important to understand is that personal change not only takes time, it also takes sustained effort and concentration. If the effort and concentration lapse then so likely does the new habit or performance choice you are seeking to embed.
I am often asked how long it takes to achieve sustainable change. Specifically to develop consistent use of new habits, new choices and new rituals.
That is a difficult question to ask, however research suggests it may be as little as sixty six days or it could be much longer, maybe as much as 200plus days. The amount of time varies by individual. Change is a process occurring over time, not a fixed outcome achieved in a day.
It is true there are some of you may progress through the change journey quickly, almost appearing as if you never stopped to hesitate. However this is the exception rather than the general rule. So if you are struggling please know some struggle is a normal part of the process.
4. Understand setbacks are part of the journey
There is a quote by Winston Churchill that say’s the definition of success, is the ability to go from one failure to the next without losing your enthusiasm. I am not suggesting this applies to all performance change, far from it. However I do believe some degree of failure or what I believe is best described as setback is to be expected.
The majority of you will not adopt a new habit and have it instantaneously become your default thinking, feeling and behaving. To embed the automatic thinking that drives automatic habits, you will need to invest effort and concentration over time.
It is best to think of a new habit as a dim light. The more you use the new habit, the stronger the light becomes. The stronger the light, the more likely you will keep using the new habit.
5. Adopt the approach of one step at a time
If you want to make change, the best approach is phased. Focus on two things, on introducing one new strategy at a time and break each new strategy into smaller steps.
Let’s assume your new performance strategy is to start work each prioritizing what work you have on into four categories: Do It, Delegate It, Defer It or Drop It. It is one change, and it appears at first glance to be clear and straight forward.
However there are a number of things to consider. How will you create and maintain your list? Will your decision be to do it before opening emails or taking phone calls? What happens if you have early morning meetings booked? Will you need to educate work colleagues you are unavailable for the first 30mins of each day? How many items will you be prepared to include in each of the four categories? What preparation work is involved in creating the initial list? You can see from making one small change, there is a lot to consider.
6. Review context, it plays an important role
Understanding context is also important. You are likely living a busy life, and dealing with a demanding work life. Which means in both spheres of your life you are dealing with competing and sometimes conflicting priorities on your effort and concentration. Knowing how you integrate the proposed performance change into your day to day life is essential. Understanding how you feasibly integrate it will increase probability that you will achieve and embed the associated new strategies as sustainable change.
7. Be aware things around you do not change, you choose to change
Persisting with your change journey, taking small steps and repeating your new choice or ritual will over time allow you to maintain your new wellbeing strategy.
Success in making performance change will be defined by your ability to consistently adopt and implement your new strategies over time. It is being persistent and consistent that will reap you the targeted benefits in your performance.
And sure you may occasionally stray off track however you will have also developed the ability to re-set quickly re-adopt your new strategy.
Wishing you well on your journey of change.
If you believe I can help, I encourage you to reach out.