The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a unique time for several reasons. The hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations has culminated in a delightful celebration of gift-giving and receiving, food, family, fun and making memories. Many people take vacation to be at home and rest before the hustle and bustle of the New Year. Those that don’t are working in offices that can feel so empty. Thoughts become reflective as you consider what has happened during the year, what didn’t happen during the year, and what you want to change in the next year. This ‘in-between’ period is a time when New Year’s resolutions are born. I offer three steps for a change journey that apply at any time in our lives.
1. Know that you need to change
It’s important to acknowledge that something could be better. Once that recognition happens an opportunity is created; the opportunity to make a choice. You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change! Think about what it is that you want to happen in your life. This is a gap analysis process. What is your current state? What do you want your future state to be? Who do you want to become? What things need to change? What can you change? Who is in your network that can help you on your change journey? It’s an elicitation process to draw information from you. This process isn’t always exciting; in fact it can be very painful. Change is not something that happens easily. As you probe into these questions and you are honest with yourself you discover things you may not like and are difficult to admit. This is all part of the knowing you need to change. Choose one, maybe two things you want to work on.
2. Make a plan
Based on the self reflection elicitation from knowing you need to change, you have information that you can use to create a plan. The gap analysis identifies where you are and where you need to go. Add that to your plan, this will become the goal. Set objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound to keep you accountable for the goal. This is an important aspect of the plan. Don’t set a wildly unrealistic goal like to lose 100lbs in 3 months, which is planning to fail and harm you in the process! Perhaps losing 20 lbs in three months is realistic and attainable for long term success. The plan should include support along the way. Will you have a mentor to help you be accountable and to coach you on your change journey? Do you need additional training to learn a new skill? Where is that training available? Do you have the budget to pay for that training? If not, what’s your plan to save to make that available? What research do I need to complete as part of my plan? How much time each day, week, month do I have to devote to this change? Document all of this to help you be successful in your choice to change your life. My plans often include publicly declaring the choice I am making to change to create a support group from my family, friends, and professional network. This creates an opportunity for those people to check in with me on my progress. Accountability is a key for me to follow through on my plan. Consider that some changes will have multiple phases of changes to reach the end goal. The plan should incorporate the intermediate changes needed along the way.
3. Work the plan
All I need to do is work the plan, that’s easy? Not easy at all, the proverb “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” fits well in this step. Don’t fail to work the plan after you have made a choice and made a plan. Accountability is a tool that can help. If you truly want to change, the only way that happens is through work. Find ways to work on the change bit by bit. This is also why you don’t want to change too much at once. Be kind to yourself as you are changing. Recognize that the change journey can be a slow process. You may stumble and fail along the way. This is part of the process to learn and progress. I think I have stumbled and failed in some way for every change I have made in life. Don’t give up, keep working the plan. Create status reports to share with yourself. Recognize the growth and celebrate that success. I love looking back at my life and seeing the progress. It’s often hard to see while you are on your journey. One day you will look back and be amazed at how far you have come.
This change journey is really a project, The analysis, planning, design and implementation steps parallel an IT project. You know how to do this!
Don’t limit this change journey to the week after Christmas and New Year’s. Contemplate who you want to become all the time. You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change. You are the only thing standing in the way of changing you. No one can force you to choose, you are in control of the choice to change.
Heather, a BA Without Borders