This will be the year I quit smoking. This will be the year I lose that weight. This will be the year I…. bull$#@t. This has been a topic that has been bugging me for quite some time. Why is it that we make new year’s resolutions? Why is it that we need a new year to make changes in our lives or businesses? I want to talk about making sustainable changes and how we implement them in our lives in a few ways. Let’s talk.
Time is the one of the main unrenewable resources we have in our lives. So, when I hear that people are waiting for the New Year or utilize the New Year as some type of epiphany to create a change it frustrates me. We have such a limited time on this Earth and we don’t know when it is going to end, so why wait? Also, sustainable change is an evolution not a revolution, which is why there are so many statistics surrounding the failure of these “resolutions.”
The first step in sustainable change is taking a small step. Most often people never take the step, which is the hardest part of making a change, getting going in the right direction. Or, people take to large of a step and never commit to such a drastic change in lifestyle. So, whatever your decision is make it now, not later and make a small commitment before you grow into a bigger one.
The second step, after you have decided what direction you are heading, is keeping it simple. Let’s take losing weight for an example. You may pick a target weight or desired pant size (which we will talk about later) and start working out 5 days a week for an hour. Then after a month you realize how taxing it is and start to cut back eventually dissipating the habit all together. We try to take on too much in the beginning and eventually get overwhelmed. Keep it simple. Try something like once a week for 30 minute and then build on it! Add another day; maybe try eating a healthier option just at breakfast, whatever it is make small changes that you can hold yourself accountable for. This way you can work in more and more small and simple changes to reach your goal. We can thank Tony Horton for the quote, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your body”. The same goes for your business. If you are struggling as a business, you know that it did not happen overnight. So, you can’t assume that you can fix it overnight either. Look at what simple changes you can begin to make and hold people accountable for to begin to fix your problem. Remember evolution, not revolution.
The last piece of sustainable change is about an article I wrote a few weeks ago focusing on the process not the result. As people and businesses we get caught in a mindset of a certain “result”. Things such as; pant size, weight, sales numbers, customer acquisition, sports championships, and so on, yet science shows that goal achievement only give you a short burst of a chemical called dopamine, one of the four main chemicals responsible for happiness. While this is great and in the best interest of you as a human it is short lived and often we fall back into old habits losing the most important part of our goal setting process, sustainability. We need to change our mindset from the result to the process. I see companies who set these large scale goals of hitting sales numbers and we are often fooled because of the scale of the number, when in the end it is still a number. We will eventually reach this goal and then be left to fall back into our old ways. Focusing on the process of what you are doing rather than a result will allow you to not only continually chase and pursue a lifestyle or mindset, but often will push you beyond your original goals and expectations. Let’s look back at our losing weight example. If I said I wanted to lose 20 pounds and over a month or two of eating healthy and exercise I got to my goal weight, then what? I may feel good about myself over the next few weeks and most likely will fall back into old habits that I am accustomed to, just like every other new year’s resolution… Instead, let’s focus on living a healthy lifestyle. Each day I try to move towards having a healthier lifestyle which involves me eating healthier, exercising, and being conscious of what I’m doing in pursuit of this lifestyle. We tie numbers to our goals because it’s easy, we can process and understand numbers. A mindset or lifestyle is a lot harder to quantity because we all define these differently. Don’t take the easy route; choose the pursuit of a process rather than a result.
Sustainable change is something we all continually struggle with. Take small and simple steps in the direction like you would like to take your life or your business. Then focus on the process rather than the result all the while thinking about sustainability. Don’t forget that in the end we are all people and we struggle and may fail. This is the reason we also must rely on each other. The reason the human species has lasted so long is because we are social animals. We have not always been the strongest or the smartest, but we work and live in groups allowing us too take care of each other and grow together. So what are you waiting for? Go out and make the change you want in your life keeping these things in mind. Reach out to your friends and family for support and see your dreams become reality.