Monday, January 4, 2016

Sustainable Change - A Great Solution to the Failed New Year’s Resolution.

I am NOT a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. With the best of intentions they are made to kick off the year with a set of goals or aspirations. But…they rarely have a plan that supports their long term success. What if this year, instead of drafting a list of promises you intend to fulfill, you focus on sustainable change.

Let’s look at a common New Year’s resolution and its path. You start with vowing to workout regularly and get in better shape. You decide what you will focus on your fitness in the coming year. You stare at the January 1st date on your calendar anticipating said resolution. You dive in headfirst and are at the gym on day 1 at 6am. Dry chicken breast for dinner with a side of steamed kale is your choice for dinner, you’re all in! Around day 5 you stumble upon a cupcake in the conference room and it’s all over. The cupcake turns into a food crawl and you hit the snooze button 5 times the next morning and never make it to the gym.

What if you took that resolution a little further? What if you REALLY thought about the big picture of WHY you want to eat better and work out (your appearance, health, endurance, etc.)? What if you developed a strategy for HOW you were going to create change over time, in stages, in other words sustainable change? Perhaps it would have ended differently.

It’s not such a different exercise for businesses. Everyone comes back from the holidays with a renewed sense of purpose. A fresh slate. And maybe leadership throws some goals (resolutions) on a white board. Maybe there’s even a lunch and learn to get everyone excited and rally around them. That’s a strong start, but we need to make sure these goals become part of our day-to-day.

That’s what I mean about sustainable change. We don’t want our organizations to go from Cross Fit to cupcake in a week, right?

The biggest difference between resolutions and sustainable change is longevity. So the best thing you can do for your organization is to take those resolutions and tie them back to the big picture. Help your employees connect the dots of  “why change” followed by “how to change”. Make sure they understand their individual roles as they relate to these resolutions and feel accountable and invested.

I recently came across an article from SimplicityHR about sustainable change. In addition to the framework they propose using to drive sustainable change, I loved this statement: “On the other hand, sustainable change is an intervention that truly takes root in an organization. When achieved, sustainable change helps an organization move from making conscious "efforts to change" to establishing a new, accepted "way of doing business."

And that’s what it’s about. It’s more than a quick fix. It’s a way of doing business. So let’s kick off the New Year by helping our people achieve that and put down roots (pun intended) instead of just resolutions. Cheers to sustainable change!

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