The other day I presented a few leadership tips to a group of small business owners and senior leaders of organizations. They all listened patiently, politely, and even with a great deal of engagement. A few even took copious notes – as if to remind themselves of the personal and professional changes they truly wanted to, and planned to, make. And then one extremely honest individual raised his hand.
“These ideas are great,” he shared. “The problem is,” he then voiced, “that no matter how many times I decide to do something about this, I never do. As we discussed earlier, human habits and behavior are extremely hard to change…so how can we actually do something?”
The group nodded in agreement, as did I, and then I offered my latest top ten list – the top ten steps to getting myself to actually do what I say I’m going to do. I share them with you now, so that we may all have better luck on our New Year’s resolutions (which I, by the way, never make):
Step #1 – Guilt
Use guilt in your best interest. Tell others, many others, about the behavior or attitude you want to change, and you will be much more likely to keep to your promises, if only to save face.
Step #2 – Accountability
Find someone who will hold you accountable, and even check in with you on your goals.
Step #3 – Rewards
Rewards work in training all animals – which we are. Reward yourself for each small action, each movement towards your goal, each time you have a success, no matter how small.
Step #4 – Pieces
Break your goal down into bite-size, attainable pieces. Chunk it into actions you can take (or not take) on a minute-by-minute, daily, or weekly basis – whatever is reasonable and doable (and a stretch).
Step #5 – Consistency
Do something EVERY day. Make it a habit – which is only something you’ve done often enough that it feels “normal” and familiar.
Step #6 – Celebrations
Recognize and celebrate each step towards your goal of changed behavior (similar to rewards). Find someone else to celebrate with you as well.
Step #7 – Support
Find a “partner in crime” to work with you and support you – be it a friend, colleague, loved one, or coach.
Step #8 – Assessment
Dig down to find out “what’s in it for you” to make the change, what’s potentially standing in your way, and what you can do to get around any obstacles.
Step #9 – Schedule
Use your schedule for you. Write down what you plan to do to move you towards your goal. Put it in your calendar. Put up sticky notes and task reminders. It helps to frame your calendar item as an accomplishment as opposed to a to-do.
Step #10 – Forgiveness
Be easy on yourself if you don’t hit perfection. As they say, the road to Rome wasn’t paved in a day. Deeply ingrained behaviors can be difficult to change…and they can be changed.
I hope these top ten steps help you along the way to doing what you want to do, and being who you want to be. What other tactics do you employ to help you stick to your goals? We’d love to hear them!