5 Steps to Make Change Stick

Make-It-HappenAs a leader, how effective are you with personal change management? Can you make change stick?

What I’ve found is that one of the best ways to ensure successful habit change is to be clear about your reasons and priorities. This may seem easier said than done, even for the most successful leaders, because we’re hard-wired to keep on doing the same things the same way. But here’s the good news: there are brain-friendly action steps that can work in your favor.

The brain is equipped for automaticity and economizing efforts. The way to make that work in your favor is to include these five steps:

  1. Make small changes: If your goal is too hard, break it down into easy-to-do steps. Instead of 45 minutes of exercise a day, set out to do 10 minutes a day or one hour a week. You will feel successful and energized to make the next small change.
  2. Staple it: Tack your change to something else you do regularly. If you log on to your computer each day, set a goal of writing for 20 minutes before opening email. Hitching a behavior to an already embedded one helps you stick to your plan.
  3. Mornings are best: Whatever change you decide to make, do it before the day gets in the way. Once you let a busy schedule take over your brain, other priorities will interfere. Make your change a priority first thing.
  4. Don’t decide, just do: Schedule your behavior and don’t waver. Making decisions will deplete mental energy and resolve. Just do it. Or, just start to do it. Once you start, you may decide to complete the action.
  5. Celebrate it: Give yourself credit for whatever you accomplish. We are often judgmental of less-than-perfect efforts. If you aren’t giving yourself positive reinforcement and mental pats-on-the-back, you will lose enthusiasm.

It’s not rocket science, but if you’re having trouble, consider asking a trusted mentor or coach for assistance—sometimes a little accountability helps. Make sure you set meaningful goals, and create a pathway to success. Expect obstacles and distractions. Those who succeed are those who get support from others, are willing to delay gratification, and persist.

What have been your experiences in making changes stick? I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here and on LinkedIn.

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