I am sure that when the year was coming to an end, you were saying in your head, next year I will start doing something different. I do this to myself all the time. I say I am going to change a behavior, and I do, but it is short lived. And then I feel like I failed and add guilt on top of that. Changing a behavior is tricky business, especially if you are a creature of habit, which most of us are.
This year I am going to take my Lean training and apply it to a few simple goals or behavior changes. A big difference to this approach is I am giving myself measurable and ACHIEVABLE goals. This will allow for altering the path and I am hoping also allowing for failure. Failure is not the end, it is only a result. It simply means this was not the way or the answer. It will not be me who failed but the process that fails. It is scientific and objective.
So to start, one must decide on the object of change or the goal. You build it with this sentence: Wouldn’t it be great if….. Right off, it makes the goal friendlier by giving space for the outcome. When you think about the thing you want to accomplish, try not to make it so adamant that if you do not achieve it, something bad will occur. Human by design do not like to change and we set up our own road blocks or hurdles and just that alone can sabotage our efforts. By saying “it would be great”….allows for a positive, malleable start and not a wall to get over.
Then set the measurable goal. It needs to be clear and also obtainable. For example, saying you will clean out every closet it your house (and you have multiple closets jammed with stuff) is too much. But by saying wouldn’t it be great if I could clean out the downstairs hall closet by Easter. You have your action and your time line. And it may seem to be a bit too easy but then if you do complete it earlier, it will only make you feel more successful.
Next is figuring out the hurdles or things that might impede your success. By writing down the hurdles or obstacles down you can seek solutions one at a time instead of becoming overwhelmed. It will also help to set up a game plan. For example using the closet project; one hurdle will be what do I do with the stuff as I am emptying the closet? I need to put it somewhere or I will become overwhelmed with the mess. Solution: I need a variety of boxes marked with keep, toss, donate, and relocate. How do I get rid of the toss or donate? Every Friday is trash day and so for a month, I will take one box of tossed items out on Friday. I will call the local volunteer group to come get the donate box by the end of the month, or I will take it there. These are measureable steps and small chunks to overall success of the project.
Step one is to get the boxes. Step two put them in a place that is visible and near the closet. Then start going through the closet when you have a moment. Work on it small doable pieces that does not overwhelm you. Make notes and post them where you can see the reminders such as take the stuff to the volunteer outlet. You want to aid in your own success with what-ever methods it takes.
If you are like me, you have a bazillion little projects that need to be done. You probably also have many things you would like to change in personal behavior. The biggest thing that stops us from being successful is that we take it all on. Try this experiment on one item. Just taking the time to plot the “wouldn’t it be nice” statement needs to be thought out carefully. Let me know how this goes for you.