Change for the sake of change with no goal or purpose is a act of a rebel without a clue. And the effort is usually wasted. Especially if your change journey depends a great deal on others accepting, following and helping you to sustain it, and if you have to overcome their resistance to change.
Whether you want to launch a new business, change your career, move abroad, buy a new home, change your investment portfolio, save money, get on Tinder or become an extreme athlete…, start your change journey by answering the question: Why do I want to make this change? What do I want to achieve?
The question is important because the answer will give you your goal, your purpose and your reason for your change. Without it, you can’t move forward. Well, you could (of course), but your journey will be arduous and confusing, with a higher chance that you will give up.
Make sure you have a plan
Once you have your goal, your purpose, make a plan for your change journey and how to address resistance to change. Don’t improvise; it is risky to do so when making changes. You will be entering into territory that you are not necessarily familiar with. Some improvisation can help you be spontaneous and flexible on the spot, but it is not a guarantee for success – Planning is! It is because changing something usually comes on top and above your everyday responsibilities. Therefore, you need to plan your actions according to available time and resources.
So, plan and when you do so, include in your project:
- timeframes and milestones,
- who are your stakeholders,
- the risks associated,
- who you need to be in your team and can help you achieve your goal.
Dealing with resistance to change
Your plan becomes your action strategy. You will execute the steps and activities you’ve planned. And as you do so, you will face one of the most controversial aspects of any change journey: resistance to change. Your own and others. So, the most crucial skill you need to learn when you want to change the world is how to address resistance. First, you will have to understand your stakeholders’ concerns, fears and insecurity – the root cause of it. The two best strategies to deal with others’ resistance to the change you want are communication and negotiation.
Second, you will also need to deal with your own resistance. And sometimes you can be your own worst enemy, depending on the roadblocks you face.
It happens when you believe that the longer-term benefit does not prevail over the effort you have to put into it. You give in to instantly gratifying temptations. The universal example is all the exceptions we make when we are not entirely convinced of the results or benefit from a diet or exercise routine. In her book “How to change?”, Katy Milkman proposes the solution: adding “an element of fun” to the current effort. For example, a pleasant massage after an intense workout, a city break after achieving a significant project milestone, a day off.
… is the all-time enemy to change. We have this contra-productive ability to postpone essential things or delay them even though it will backfire. Human nature, right? There are ways to deal with procrastination: set ambitious goals and break them down into smaller and more frequent commitments. Set up datelines and make them visual. Mark in green every milestone you complete on time and in red any delay. And if worse comes to worse, make a cash payment penalty. Every time you postpone a goal, you will have to pay a financial fine. Pick up a nonprofit organization, political group, or movement that you really dislike. Write a check, or put at least $50 in a sealed envelope addressed to that organization. Hand it over to a close friend or relative and tell them to drop it in the mail if you fail to meet your datelines.
We stick to defaults and old routines. So, in the first place, acknowledge that and in the second place – break them. Defaults are meant to make life easier, but they also mass standard everything and handicap change. So, make your email your browser’s homepage, use the stairs instead of the elevator, look for products on the upper and lower shelves in the supermarket. Another trick if you want to change routine, combine one new activity with one old activity you do regularly. For example, combine reading and exercising, learning a language whilst driving, and putting your vitamins supplements next to your toothbrush, so you don’t forget to take them.
Confidence is your belief that you can achieve something… or not. Lack of confidence is a big stopper. Thankfully there are ways to boost it. Start your change journey by understanding why you are doing it (like suggested at the beginning of this article). Your confidence will be more substantial as you will have a purpose, a goal you understand and believe in. You still might not be convinced, because that goal may have been imposed on you. In that case, you have to better understand the benefits for you, or pursue a different purpose. The thing is that you have to want the change – if you do, your confidence level will increase and nothing can stop you.
The Comfort zone is this incredibly accommodating state of mind which allows us to enjoy our status quo and stops us from progress. So how do you deal with that? How do you convince yourself that the magic happens outside your comfort zone? The same way children deal with the unknown. They ask relevant and straightforward questions. So suppose you want to start working on losing fear, apprehension or insecurity when you deal with change. In that case, I encourage you to write the answers to the following 2 questions:
What do I win by making a change?
What will I lose if I do nothing?
Implementing changes is envigorating if you understand where resistance to change comes from, deal with the issues promptly and follow your action plan.
Your change journey and dealing with resistance to change is not over until you’ve sustained the results. Has it happened to you that you work on something forever and then, by an act of magic, it disappears, and you end up using the same old method? Unfortunately, failing to sustain a change is something that happens to many of us. Luckily there is a way to deal with it. When you achieve your goal, you have to incorporate whatever you’ve changed – habits, way of working, mode of travelling, a process – into your ongoing life. The same thing in your business; whatever you’ve changed, you have to make it permanent and part of your business practice. You do that by creating new routines and turning them into standards, then assigning clear roles and responsibilities to teams.
Share knowledge and success
Share your change experience. You will be helping others learn from you, and as more people get confident with making changes, it will be easier for all everyone to progress. We live in complex and intertwined societies. Seldom a person is a standalone decision-maker. Instead, we depend on each other, and often our goals affect other people status quo. So share and celebrate success with others.