Resolutions that last: A holistic approach to change
A new year is an opportunity for a new start.
Although only symbolic, it offers us a milestone to pause and take stock of where we are, and where we want to be. It’s a chance to reflect on the past 12 months and many of us use the moment to set personal goals and make resolutions to change the things we want to change.
But how can we make sure our good intentions and practices last through the year and don’t drop off after January ends?
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There are countless papers and articles written about changing behaviour, that offer tips and tricks, for example: setting SMART goals , “stacking habits” and applying nudge theory. These are all excellent techniques for building new habits that stick.
But… taking a step back – how can we shift our mindset ABOUT goals and habits, in a way that makes change more positive, effective and sustainable?
These are my 5 key reflections – for individuals as well as organisations.
1. Change isn’t always about overnight transformation.
While New Year Resolutions are popular and we all enjoy a “before and after” story, human beings are designed to continually evolve – we are not superheroes who can suddenly transform by changing a costume!
So don’t fall for the ‘transformation’ hype. Real change that tends to last is often the less visible, slow and steady type. Deeply rooted beliefs and practices take time to shift.
Set goals for the short, medium and long term.
2. Think small.
Building new habits takes time. Go for incremental changes that you can sustain. B.J. Fogg uses the example of two push-ups a day. Build the muscle.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but we often advise clients to “think small”.
By that I mean: rather than publishing sweeping statements on social media or setting unrealistic targets… focus inwards and see what recurrent, everyday behaviours you can tackle and address within your working context.
Set a goal around this that is small and specific. It is little behaviours that collectively build your culture.
3. Ground your goals in purpose and values.
Many coaching and consulting approaches (like the ever-popular GROW model) will suggest starting with “What I want to Achieve”. This feels logical, but it can lead you to think superficially and end up chasing the wrong goals.
Instead: start with Who I am, What I believe and What I value. Then build goals to align with that.
This applies to organisations too:
Strategies and action plans are meaningless unless they are linked with purpose and values.
So first, get clear on your vision and values – then this becomes a guiding star and allows you to adapt as you go, while still staying on track.
(This article offers some insight and outlines key principles for ensuring Organisational Values are true and meaningful).
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4. There is no end point.
Life is an ongoing journey of self-discovery and development. We may have milestones and mini victories along the way, but ultimately, it is about continuing to grow and evolve.
So, let’s ask ourselves:
How can we maintain a growth mindset?
How can we continue to build self-awareness and remain open to positive change?
How can we consistently embed better, healthier outlooks and practices into our everyday way of being, not just as a one-off exercise?
Photo by Dave Ruck on Unsplash
5. Ask for help.
We are all connected, and our success is inter-dependent on others around us. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can (or must) do it all by yourself. Know your strengths as well as your limitations.
Don’t rely solely on your personal willpower. Set up your surroundings in a way that supports your aims.
Ask for help – whether that’s talking to a friend/ colleague, getting yourself a coach or mentor, or bringing in a consultant to work with you or your organisation.
Research shows that just sharing your goals with someone you respect makes you more committed to achieving them.
And an ‘external’ perspective can sometimes be the key to unlock a fresh way of thinking and approaching the issue.
Whether you are looking to change something for yourself, or in your organisation, hope these reflections bring insight and help sustain your momentum in a positive and holistic way.
At Rewire Consulting, we have been researching culture and behaviour for over two decades.
We are specialists with experience in organisational development, employee engagement, employee experience, employer brand, diversity & inclusion, research, coaching and leadership development.
What drives us is a passion and a commitment to bring out the best in people, teams and organisations – so we can all fulfill our potential and serve our purpose.
Get in touch if you’d like to know more about how we coach and support individuals and organisations to plan and drive positive, sustainable change.