The journey of life and business truly is filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, gains and losses, victories and defeats. So many times, we long for an even keel; to find a place of normalcy, calm, and routine. Unfortunately, life has a way of interrupting this calm, and forcing the unpredictable and sporadic. And it is in these places that we can find ourselves weak and needing to find our strength again. The funny thing about losing your strength, is that it always seems to happen when we need it most.
Change, variation, adjustment, and transition are the most consistent threads we will find in this life. As long as the sun rises and sets, we will all experience birth and re-birth, life and death, summer and winter, spring and fall, seedtime and harvest. The question is not if we can avoid transition because we can’t, but how we will thrive through it. What can we learn? How can we grow? What new capacities can we nurture in order to thrive?
2020 represents the start of the 3rd decade of the 3rd millennium. Rather than making a list of Resolutions for a New Year and a New Decade, I believe that 2020 presents a unique opportunity to us all for change. The truth is that New Year’s Resolutions profit little, but a proactive and strategic engineering and embrace of change may be in our best interests.
See, I believe that our success in life isn’t based on our ability to simply change. Change is not really an option, as long as we are alive. Success in life is not just about the ability to change – but to embrace change strategically and intentionally, and to change faster than your competition and your customers, so you can be ready, while everyone else is still adjusting.
Harold Wilson said that, “He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.” There is truth here. You may believe that change costs too much – that the mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, relational, professional and financial costs of change are too great to bear. However, wisdom says that the price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change. As Jack Welch said so succinctly, “Change before you have to.”
As a Leadership Coach, I have long encouraged myself and my clients to change before we must. The challenge for many though is actually quite clear: How do we determine what changes to make – and – How do we make these changes in sustainable ways? The “Change Process” is our teacher here.
The Change Process is based on the perspective that all sustainable change is progressive, that all sustainable change happens in stages, and that all sustainable change occurs as the outcome of a process. Thus, all the elements of the Change Process must be present for the change to be lasting, complete, and sustainable. To the degree that the elements of the Change Process are present, to that same degree will the change in your life or business be complete and sustainable. As you consider making strategic and positive changes into 2020, those changes will be sustainable to the degree that the elements of the Change Process are present and working in your favour. Let’s take a closer look…
The first element of the Change Process is Passion, or desire. For change to occur, a person needs a sense of passion, desire, dream, or drive. For sustainable change to occur, a person needs to want it.
Passion is the energy that incites positive change and is the momentum that fuels the massive amount of resources that need to be aligned and re-aligned for truly significant transformation to occur.
Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate. So many times, people are looking for their purpose, when they should start with passion. If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion, because your passion will typically lead you right to your purpose.
Passion elevates performance, enhances productivity, and enriches professionalism. Only great passions can elevate a life to achieve great things, and without passion, we will crumble when the cost of change begins to wear on us.
So, what do you want to achieve? What are your passions, your desires, and your dreams? Steve Jobs said this: “You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” The bottom line here? People don’t change until they want to.
For sustainable change to occur, this desire, dream or goal needs clear definition. Clarity is so important because where there is no clear vision, people perish: they live unrestrained and unfocused lives. A German proverb says that, “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”
So many times, we seek velocity, when we should be seeking clarity. Clarity of focus causes you to be fully present, properly prioritized, and intensely powerful. Bruce Lee said it like this: “The successful warrior is the average person, with laser-like focus.”
As we approach our future, here is some solid advice: STOP making so many plans. Just pick one or two and crush them. PLAN to neglect everything NOT connected to your priorities. In the end, it doesn’t really matter how much intellectual horsepower, resources, or energy you have, if you don’t focus it on a specific target. Without clarity, you will not accomplish your potential.
In this element of the Change Process we drill down from general passions to specific goals. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound. Use the lens of a Wellness Wheel – and ask yourself – where you would like to be Mentally, Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually, Relationally, Professionally, and Financially in 2020? The bottom line here? People don’t change until they have clarity.
For sustainable change to occur, the motivation for making that change must be clear. Always start with WHY.
WHY do you want this change to occur? What is this change really ABOUT for you?
See, wanting something is not enough. We must hunger for it. Our motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way. One of the first mistakes that prevents most people from achieving sustainable change is not identifying “WHY” they want the change in the first place. The “why” is far more important than the how because it’s our “whys” that determine the strength of our desire, and the ultimate drive to achieve our goals. Without a big enough “why” our chances of success are significantly reduced. Jim Rohn said this: “When the WHY gets stronger, the HOW gets easier.”
This element of the Change Process gives us opportunity to load up the benefit side of the equation. And, when looking at your motivation, please include family and other relationships. The bottom line here? People don’t change until they are clear on their motivation or reasons why.
For sustainable change to occur, we must ask the question of what has held us back in the past? It makes sense here to address both controllable and non-controllable obstacles. For controllable obstacles, we will need an action plan, and for non-controllable obstacles, we will need a coping plan.
We also want to address both internal obstacles and external obstacles. I like to tell people that for internal obstacles, we will need a growth plan, and for external obstacles, a grind plan. The bottom line here? People don’t change until they address what holds them back.
For sustainable change to occur, the answer lies within. We need to get into an empowered mindset. Tackling change from an empowered mindset dramatically increases your chances of success over a disempowered mindset eight days a week! The truth is that no one can be made to feel inferior without their own consent – we can only really be what we give ourselves the power to be.
How would your life be different if you stopped allowing other people to weaken your mindset or your self-worth with their words and opinions? How would your life be different – and how would your desired changes all be sustainable – if you began to stand empowered and ennobled in who and what you already are – and no longer needed the validation of others? How would your life be different if you began to look within, rather than without?
See, the best way to be empowered is to look within. Take some time and do a complete “Inventory Of Your Awesomeness”. What skills, tools and other resources do you currently have that will aid in your ability to create sustainable change? List out in detail your current skills, resources, tools, talents, strengths, and achievements, and in this process, you will be validated and affirmed. The bottom line here? People don’t change until they feel empowered.
6) Action Plan.
For sustainable change to occur, action must be taken. Behaviors need to change. Clear plans must be created. People don’t change until they have a plan.
Tony Robbins said that, “The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” Don’t wait until you have all the answers. Simply ask yourself what specific action steps you can take to reach your goals and build an action plan around those steps. And then simply act. Act now. Act decisively. The bottom line? People don’t change until they take action.
7) Gap Analysis.
For sustainable change to occur, we need a clear idea of our gaps. For change to occur that is lasting, often we need to grow and evolve new beliefs, new attitudes, new mindsets, new behaviors, new skills, and new tools. New growth supports new levels of success. If my current level of skill determines my current levels of outcomes, then better outcomes demand better skills.
Here, we take the opportunity to answer the personal and professional development question. So you honestly ask yourself: what additional skills, tools and resources do you need to develop to help you achieve your goals? The bottom line? People don’t change until they learn new skills and tools.
8) Growth Plan.
In and of itself, gap analysis is useless unless we develop a specific plan for to grow and fill in those gaps. For sustainable change to occur, we need a clear plan for our own growth. John Maxwell said that, “Growth is the great separator between those who succeed and those who do not. When I see a person beginning to separate themselves from the pack, it’s almost always due to personal growth.” So true!
Because our incomes and outcomes rarely exceed our personal and professional development, it makes sense to have a detailed plan for growth. Don’t stop at gap analysis but put together a measured and thoughtful plan for personal and professional development. The bottom line here? People don’t change until they follow a growth plan – a specific personal and professional development plan.
In summary, for change to occur that is lasting and meaningful, we simply need to ask these questions which are directly correlated to the elements of the Change Process:
- Passion. What change am I passionate about making in my life, work, or business?
- Clarity. How can I make this change specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound?
- Motivation. What is this change really about for me? Why do I want this change to occur?
- Obstacles. What is holding me back?
- Empowerment. Am I tackling this change from a position of empowerment or disempowerment?
- Action Plan. What is my action plan to make this change occur?
- Gap Analysis. What are my growth gaps around achieving the change I want to achieve?
- Growth Plan. What is my growth plan to fill in those gaps that I identified?
2020 lays before us, ready for us to lay brush to canvas and artfully create something of worth and value.
The Change Process will empower us to make changes in 2020 which last for more than New Year’s Resolutions, and by following each step, we can engineer something great into 2020 and beyond.
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