It was the Roman philosopher Epictetus (50-130) who said. ‘Your will is always within your power. Nothing really stops you. Nothing holds you back, for your own will is always within your control’. Epictetus’s message is particularly relevant today when addressing the issue is ‘change’. You can change if you want to change! Old ways of doing things don’t always work. Be prepared to try new approaches and find new ways to work and to live your life. Here are some approaches to consider.
1. Change the way you think.
Constant adaptation to an ever-changing environment is critical for successful people. The invention of the micro-chip (c. 1965) has changed forever the potential for change and the speed at which it occurs. According to Downes and Mui (Unleashing the Killer App, Harvard Business School Press, 1998), the micro-chip has contributed significantly to unleashing what they call ‘the killer app’. We have come to realize that we can’t think about problems today in the same way as we did previously and expect different results. As Peter Drucker said, ‘Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes’. A change in your world view and the way you think about work and life will inevitably lead to different behavioral options.
2. Reward yourself.
Incentives are an established way of rewarding performance and achievement. Rewards, however, need not come from someone else only: you need to reward your own achievements. And those rewards can involve learning new skills, traveling to different places, meeting and working with different people, and taking time out. Recognizing and rewarding your own achievements helps to replenish one of your key energy sources. After all, if your aim is to continue to improve on your own performance, rewarding that improvement seems like a logical approach to take.
3. Make changing a habit.
Whether it’s trying something new—pursuing new knowledge, reading a book, or playing a new sport—make change a habit. You can’t stop what you’re doing and expect to remain in the one spot. And while you’re making change a habit, extend the change process to include your world outside of the work situation as well. Your success in making change a habit will be enhanced when change becomes part of your whole life, not just a work- related element. Be flexible. Experts tell us that in order to claim a new behavior as our own, we need to use it three times only. Taking on new habits is a straightforward process.
4. Use self-talk.
Spend a few minutes each day talking to yourself about change. Try making positive statements about change and your willingness to embrace it – such as ‘I like trying new things’ or ‘I enjoy learning and growing.’ Such positive affirmations counteract the negative messages often associated with everyday life. Experience will tell you where to go to receive the best available advice—as well as where not to go. Associate with those people whose enthusiasm you can ‘catch’. Those who promote ‘negative’ views discourage change so that they themselves won’t have to contemplate changing.
5. Focus on your strengths.
All other things being equal, it is best to focus on developing one’s strengths rather than try to diminish one’s weaknesses (this does not mean, of course, that you should ignore your weaknesses). Acknowledge that change takes courage and strength, and recognize those qualities in yourself. Spotlight the progress you have made—new skills mastered, better teamwork, and greater efficiencies. Realize that these victories couldn’t have happened without some sacrifice and courage. By recognizing and acknowledging your impressive track record for successful change, building on that success is a logical next-step.
6. Simplify your life.
Take time-out to look critically at the things that take your time. Your review may show that you derive 20 percent return for 80 percent
of the time expended on some tasks. In fact, the ‘80-20 Rule’ is a valuable review tool for all of us when we’re pursuing how we spend time. As Henry David Thoreau said, ‘As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness’. How you are currently spending your time should be subject to continuing review. Following a review, you can develop and implement an action plan to ensure that you take the necessary follow-up actions.
7. Look critically at the way you use time.
Keep a log of everything that you do to see where your time goes. Make use of this tracking of what you do by comparing it with what you regard as the ideal way to spend your time. This analysis could show that you that the way you are spending your time is not in concert with your vision or long-term goals. The information generated will help you to make more informed decisions that affect your future directions.
8. Try the ‘As if’ approach.
Employ the ‘As if’ philosophy – act as if’ you have become the change you want to become. Do that and often that change will be realized.
9. Aim high. Be sensational.
Being sensational can be as simple as being
interested in other people, being unique enough to be remembered, being fun to be around, being willing to take risks and try new things, being visible to the right people as frequently as you can be, and being credible by doing what you say you’re going to do.
10. Give yourself time to adjust.
Rarely would you expect immediate change in the behavior of other people. So, be ‘kind’ to yourself also. It will take time.