New Year’s resolutions and change – taking change management personally

By | 01/01/2021

Yes, it’s this time of the year again… So happy new year first of all! At the same time, I’m sure you have used the last days or at least the last hours to think of what’s coming in 2021 and what you would like to do or achieve. I’m also quite sure you have also been asked at least once by friends, colleagues or family about your New Year’s resolutions. Discussions around this topic regularly end up in an analysis of why you (or the other parties in that conversation) have failed to achieve last year’s resolutions. And that’s where we are back with change management and can, of course, learn from professional change practitioners 😉 So what can we do to help us realize our own plans and resolutions? Reflecting on the topic, I would recommend 5 things (yes, many of them in fact relate to the well-known Beckhard-Harris formula for change):

1 Establish the urgency, define the need – every change requires a good underlying reason. If there is no apparent need for a change, the likelihood that you will practically change your own routines, behaviours or thinking decreases tremendously. So think about the WHY (yes, in capital letters): Why is this change in your life necessary or relevant? Why should it happen now? Why are you dissatisfied with the “as-is” and why is “doing it the old way” a bad option? Thinking about these questions is a good thing. Write these things down (almost like a pro and cons list) even better!

2 Develop a clear vision – in your mind, define the target state, play through the change and imagine what it would be like if you were successful. Think of the benefits if you would manage the change successfully. What is your target shape, weight or fitness and what would be the positive effects if you would achieve them? What would be the benefit of completing a particular education program?

3 Make a plan for action – every change starts with a good first step. So don’t keep the change theoretical but design a plan with manageable steps. That doesn’t mean that you have to have a full-blown plan for 365 days in mind. But at least you should now the first practical actions to take. Structure that plan to run the marathon into manageable bits, sign up for the first (shorter) test races and then register for that one marathon that you are targeting.

4 Overcome resistance – our internal resistance keeps us from achieving New Year’s resolutions (more than anything else!). It takes incredible effort to changing long-established routines or deep-rooted thought structures. Understanding what keeps you locked within your old schemes and practices will help you overcome such resistances. Maybe you need to change some underlying structures first? Maybe it takes new ways of managing your time, or access to particular people? Maybe it takes new equipment or requires some education? Find what blocks the change and remove these barriers.

5 Share your plans with others and celebrate successes – Social support (or in fact pressure) is a good enabler of change. Sharing your plans with others significantly boosts the likelihood that you implement your desired change project: Not only will people remind you of your plans. Friends and family will also check in regarding progress and therefore will help you overcome your own resistance. And they will be ready to celebrate with you when you have achieved milestones on your way to success, boosting your own morale and motivation.

So good luck in achieving your resolutions for 2021 🙂 And if you have additional advice on achieving them – feel free to share it in a comment below.

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