One of the trendiest job titles at the moment is Change Manager. This is because change is extremely difficult to achieve. When I teach change management in corporate settings I usually start by asking people to look at making personal life changes. I do this because it teaches that change is difficult.
Attribution: Flickr - m.a.r.c.
Yet changing is extremely important, so lets look at how to achieve some personal life changes.
Before starting any sort of change it is important to first review your current situation and work out what you are doing right. Most bad change comes about when you throw away both good and bad.
Attribution: Flickr - AJ Cann
The simplest way to do this is a SWOT analysis. That is work out what are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Change should build on your strengths. If want to change career, think about the skills that possess and what you enjoy doing to help select a new career.
Weaknesses need to be understood so that they can be overcome. Remember weaknesses, when overcome, can become your greatest strengths. I like the fact that there are famous orators like Winston Churchill who was a stutterer and Abraham Lincoln who was so shy the first time he tried to give a public speech he had to leave the stage without speaking.
We also need to find opportunities to change. For example, if you want to move to a new country to live, you have to know to which countries it is realistic to move to.
Maybe it is better for personal change to use the word challenges instead of threats. They are what might stop us from changing.
Set your change goals
I have a saying "Don't run from things, run to things". When we run from something without a goal we could end up anywhere, often worse off than when we started. However when we have a goal we have a clearer idea of the challenges involved.
Attribution: Flickr - Les Chatfield
I like to use S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Specific: Can you tell people what you are trying to achieve?
Measurable: Can you tell when your goal has been achieved?
Achievable: Are your goals realistic? Maybe if your goal seems too big, start with a smaller simpler problem
Relevant: Is the change related to the problems you have in your life at the moment rather than change for the sake of change.
Timely: If you want to achieve anything it is good to have a time frame.
Work out a measure of success
This is obviously in the S.M.A.R.T. goals but it is worth emphasizing. We need to understand both what we are trying to achieve and be able to measure our journey to achieving it.
Attribution: Flickr - Sonny Abesamis
We will need this measure when we move the later of stage of reinforcing the change.
Learn about what you need to do
Once you know what your goal is, your first step is to learn more about what you need to do to achieve it. Gathering knowledge is very important in any life change.
Attribution: Flickr - Nomadic Lass
In fact our brains naturally have two modes. The first is the information gathering mode where we find ourselves distracted and can't seem to work on anything. That is okay, because once we have enough information our brains will switch to the action mode where we focus on achieving as much as possible with what we know.
Have a change plan
Most changes are fairly big, so instead of just hoping for a change, why not break it down into parts called a step plan.
Attribution: Flickr - Gisela Giardino
Reinforce the change
Often when we plan to change the result is that we fall back into our old ways. Any change should be rewarding and if it isn't we have to remind ourselves why we are changing.
Attribution: Flickr - Steven Depolo
For example, how many people join a gym to get fit only to stop going after a week or two. If we want to make that change we have to reinforce in continually.
Review your change regularly
Change takes a long time and so many people choose not to even start on the change because they are not sure what they want in the long-term. However we shouldn't be put off by the long-term nature of change because we should normally be reviewing our change plans on a regular basis and evolving them based on changes in our life.
How often you review is up to you and the change you are undertaking. Don't be scared to give up on a change as long as you are always finding a new change to work on rather than just sliding back into the old routine.
Life is constant change
I am a firm believer in constant change and improvement. The world around us is also in constant motion so life is a constant adaption to it. But more than that, change is an opportunity to live a better life and even create a better world.