Let’s think about our ideal version of ourselves again – the one we will become. Hopefully, Warriors and WayMakers caused you to determine what’s holding you back. If it didn’t because you’re already on your journey, did you find a community of like-minded WayMakers?
If it didn’t because you didn’t read it…
- Build Habits That Stick
Change is hard because we get so ingrained in our ways, but frankly, our ways aren’t working. That’s why we’re having this conversation to begin with, so I don’t feel bad saying “suck it up”. I will, however, offer that change is better with support, which helps spread the responsibility of change. To be clear, you own it, this is your life, so success or failure is on you and you alone, but with effective support, you have more eyes evaluating your commitment, that will hold you to it, and help it become real. Almost like the peer/societal/unconscious pressure that determines who we are for us… except now we’re designing it. We’re in control. We’re forging our path.
Meaningful change requires sustainable new habits, but too much change at once can’t be embodied – the New Year gym resolution, for example. Too much change too quickly tends to fizzle out just as it was implemented (73% within three months, in this case)1. One trick is not to erase your “bad” habits, but to update them with “good” habits; this integrates your plan with your daily life in more manageable, digestible bites. The intent is pure – to replace over-eating, junk food, and couch potato-ing with a restricted diet, clean food, and exercise, but that’s spreading your focus too thin. You dump your discipline bucket to water everything at once, instead of turning on your discipline hose to water one element at a time.
So, what does this look like?
Start small – You have your goal set, that’s the big change. What are some smaller goals that can build momentum on your way there? Successfully incorporating these small, winnable milestones helps reduce your resistance to change, builds confidence toward larger challenges, and helps you acknowledge your progression. And… 1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1 = 10, just as 5+5 does. If your end state occurs at the end, how you get there matters less than the arrival, doesn’t it?
Anchor to existing habits – This is the update part; modify existing routines or behaviors instead of erasing them. This way, you don’t change your life, you change part of your day or part of a routine. Everything else stays on autopilot while you use your discipline hose on one or two new elements. Once you’ve got those down (you’re comfortable with this milestone for a couple of weeks), try another, then another. Continue to build momentum, decrease resistance, take on bigger challenges, and acknowledge how far you’ve come.
Set Reminders – This is a simple one. We forget what isn’t our focus. Life (work, kids, chores) gets in the way. Set reminders. For your milestone at hand, for your end-state change, and for your vision. Make sure you stay aware of the fight at hand.
Track Progress – This is my favorite part. A supervisor once told me “garbage in, garbage out. Stop being garbage.” The point is that you get out of it what you put into it. “It” being your investment. Take notes, use spreadsheets, or write on your bathroom mirror – do whatever it takes to stay on task. If this becomes a hassle for you, start over with “staying on task” as your milestone.
Accountability – your Forge; this is your community of WayMakers, the like-minded hard chargers that aren’t going to let you give up on yourself. The ones that will give you bold feedback that you need to hear, not what you want to hear. The ones that will throw your plan a floatation device as your head dips below life’s water. The ones in the fight with you that help direct life’s water into your discipline hose to feed self-improvement. This is a HUGE aspect to have in place before you go for the gusto – the big life changes. Accumulate your community as you earn your way through milestones early in your journey, then fight with everything you’ve got, and everything they’ve got, for the big ones that feel like you can’t win. You will, please trust me. Trust them.
Reward System – Acknowledge your successes. Share your stories with your community and share in your victories with them. Motivation is big; the same gym resolution study indicated that not having a goal crushes momentum – if your goal is tangible (receiving your reward) the whole plan stays tangible and instantly gratifying1.
- Make Big Goals Achievable
Corporate types get paid big money to be “Change Managers” or “Transformation Consultants” because change is hard and takes dedicated attention. So much so, that change management initiatives, often disguised as “growth strategies” or “development plans” so they’re less scary, have teams of professionals to support desired end-states. Fortunately, in our case, it’s only one person to be changed but as we discussed before, we negotiate lies with ourselves all the time, so it’s best to have a change team.
Let’s approach achieving our goals kind of like consulting. I don’t have big corporate money for you, but if you’ll take a better you as payment, that’s invaluable. Here are some steps to follow, contextualized so they apply to our personal lives2,3. Do this for your big-picture goals, but also for each milestone. Understanding these steps will give you the flexible game plan you need to see progress – understanding the battle (milestones) offers a chance to use the right weapons (resources).
- Self-Discovery (the article Warriors and WayMakers drives this part)
- Define your reason for change – What do you want out of a change? Does it need to happen now? Why?
- Build a change team – your fellow WayMakers; like-minded individuals to contribute to designing, implementing, and monitoring your plan.
- How does timing affect your change?
- Who or what needs to be influenced by your change internal to your life? External to your life? Why?
- Vision and Strategy
- Define your end-state
- Sell yourself on the benefits of this endstate
- Outline your milestones, goals, timeline, and resources in a building block order or progress
- Communicate Your Plan – to your community
- What should be shared?
- Who should know?
- How often, and when should you tell them?
- Practice and Learn
- What knowledge, awareness, or skills are necessary to accomplish your goals?
- How can you access or learn them?
- Begin the plan
- Monitor the plan – transparency with your community facilitates their help
- Feedback and Refinement
- Reflect on how you’re doing, and determine if you’re on track or not
- If not, this is essentially Step 1; follow through to Step 6 focused on your shortfall, and get yourself back on track. Then pick up where you left off.
- Get observations from your community – if we knew we were doing something wrong, we probably wouldn’t do it; they might be able to see it.
- Reflect on how you’re doing, and determine if you’re on track or not
- Celebrate Success
- Set rewards for each milestone you accomplish
- Recognize others for their support – this builds their investment in you and supports your willingness to continue seeking their support
- Continuous Improvement
- AGAIN. With the next milestone or set of milestones (your new goal)
3. Shape Your Identity
You’re making changes to your routine (behaviors, attitudes, activities, etc.) but to internalize them is to make them permanent. Essentially, this is the opposite of what we discuss in Warriors and WayMakers – tell the world who you are, instead of being told by it; I’m not observing a change, I am a change. It isn’t what is spoken over us that defines us, but how we choose to present ourselves – this is your opportunity to see your success, claim it for the truth it is, and have this be your new baseline; 1+1=2, 2+1=3, 3+1=4, and so on, not 3+1=2 again2. You’re changing. Own it.
4. Embrace Transformative Thought
Incorporating change management into your life isn’t about external success but offering yourself a legitimate opportunity to manipulate your thinking about, and approach to, challenges. Transformative thought involves perpetually overcoming (transforming, if you will) your life assumptions in exchange for diverse perspectives that offer different assumptions, and new starting points for continuous improvement.
Breaking free of expectations imposed by society and rationalized by your past experiences is a journey worth embarking upon. Unshackle your potential, discover new horizons, create a life that aligns with your true self, and leave a legacy!
Next, we will explore the concept of “Positive Disruption” and how it can offer further transformation in our journey as we continue to unlock the limitless possibilities within us.
Do you want to learn more? Check out:
The Series: Transformative Thought
The Podcast: “Be Relentless Podcast”!
The Fuel: Sisu Stamina, Performance Evolved
- Got a New Workout in the New Year? Why You Shouldn’t Go Full Throttle. (2020). Healthline.https://www.healthline.com/health-news/you-probably-shouldnt-go-full-throtte-at-the-gym
- Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading Change. Harvard Business School Press.
- Johnson, D.W. & Johnson, D. P. (2013). Joining Together, Group Theory and Group Skills. (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN#: 978-0132678131
- Mayo, J. (2023). Be Relentless: If the Obstacle Is the Way, Then We Must Be WayMakers Forge Publications, LLC.