It’s that time of year when we’re bombarded with messages about ‘Creating the New You’; join a gym, lose weight, or make a career change. The reality is that many of us are entrenched in deep patterns of behaviour that have become the norm, so it can be hard to make a real change. We start off with good intentions and quickly slide back to the usual. The usual may be fine of course, but it can be dispiriting to have tried to bring about change and then fail.
The intention here is not to put you off, but to help you bring about real sustained change, building on the energy and motivation you have now.
What do you want to change?
Start with thinking about what would make the most difference to you now, both personally and professionally.
Are you wanting to change a situation that is unsatisfactory? i.e. to move away from something that you feel negative about?
Or are you drawn to some unfulfilled ambitions?
Make a list of all the things you’d like to change or move towards; prioritise based on which feels most compelling or important to you. Your motivation to make the change will be key to your success.
Small or big change?
Do you have small or big changes in mind? Changes such as drinking more water, or taking regular exercise are underpinned by building new habits, and there is evidence that it can take up to 66 days for a new habit to become established, so it won’t happen overnight and requires perseverance.
More significant personal or career change may involve stepping into the unknown, taking risks and an element of ‘reinvention’; and your main obstacle here maybe you. Do you have self-limiting thoughts? ‘I’m not the sort of person who can do that?’ ‘Others will laugh at me? ‘I’m too old to make a career change’. One way of tackling this is through a process of experimenting; try a few new things and see where it takes you. Even something small, like setting up a walking club at work, might be the best way to get out of a rut.
4 strategies to help your personal or career change succeed:
1. Build your confidence & self-belief
You can tackle those self-limiting beliefs by using techniques drawn from positive psychology, changing the narrative about who you are and what you want.
2. Build your resilience and resolve
It’s easy to get discouraged by early setbacks, build your resolve by reminding yourself of what you are trying to achieve and why. Don’t be hard on yourself and feel guilty if you go off track, simply start again. Consider ways you can bolster your resilience both physically and mentally.
3. Be planful
Lack of time and focus can stop us achieving our goals, so an important consideration is how you make the time available to make progress. Are there things you can stop doing that will give you space for something new? Are you using your time to best effect – the Pareto Principle may inspire you?
Some compelling evidence suggests that what turns your desire to succeed into reality is when you are ‘intentional’, in other words planning it!
4. Use your relationships
One of the most important factors impacting your success will be other people who can support you. There is evidence that sharing your ideas and goals with others strengthens your resolve. Find a mentor, professional peer or friend who can encourage you to keep on track. They can provide you with feedback, ideas and new connections.
Avoid the people who discourage you, often they can feel threatened by the changes you seek. Try explaining to others what you are trying to achieve and why it is important to you.
Being part of a social group, such as a running group or online course community, builds in accountability, and a feeling of not wanting to be left behind or different. A group can provide you with encouragement and the motivation to stick with something. Peer expectations can create the nudge you need to keep you on track.
What is your next step?
You don’t have to do this alone! If you are looking for a structured, supportive approach to re-setting your life and career sign up now for the Career Innovation Be Bold in Your Career course.