Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year. New You?

 A new year is dawning and it’s the time of the year when we want a fresh start; to wipe the slate clean and start over. 

We’re going to change our ways, right?  But as Marshall Goldsmith says in his new book, Triggers - “meaningful behavioral change is very hard to do.”

In fact he has come up with 16 belief triggers that can hinder our quest to change.  As we work on our resolutions and goals for 2016, we may want to keep these triggers in mind, so we don’t self-sabotage our efforts to change.

1.     If I understand, I will do
There is a big difference between understanding and doing.  Just think of the big plans you had after attending a conference, and how when you got home, those ideas never materialized.   

2.     I have willpower and won’t give in to temptation
Few of us foresee the challenges we will face. Something always comes up to sink our boat.  This belief is triggered by overconfidence.

3.     Today is a special day
We pick a date to start but likely there will be momentary lapses and we can’t just self-exempt ourselves every time.

4.     At least I am better than….
Other people have to change more than we do.  We’re not the worst and so we use that excuse to take it easy and lower the bar.

5.     I shouldn’t need help and structure
Marshall believes one of our most dysfunctional beliefs is our contempt for simplicity and structure.   We have faith that we can succeed on our own.

6.     I won’t get tired and my enthusiasm will not fade
We rarely realize that self-control is a limited resource.

7.     I have all the time in the world
We totally underestimate the time it takes to get stuff done and we believe time is open-ended, all of which leads to procrastination.

8.     I won’t get distracted and nothing unexpected will happen.
Reality is that we seldom plan or allow for distractions. We have unrealistic expectations of what we can achieve.

9.     An epiphany will suddenly change my life
Often this is when we hit rock bottom, and for a while we “see the light.” Marshall calls this magical thinking.  He’s skeptical of the instant conversion experience.  Yes, there may be change in the short term, but it is not likely to be long-lasting because it is based on impulse.

10.  My change will be permanent and I will never have to worry again
He compares this belief to the fairy tale ending of “happily ever after” which isn’t based in reality.

11.  My elimination of old problems will not bring on new problems.
Reality is that fast as we get rid of old problems, new ones will arise. 

12.  My efforts will be fairly rewarded
This, argues Goldsmith, is a childhood fantasy that all is fair in the world.  If you are only pursuing change for external rewards – like making more money – it’s not going to work well for you.  Getting better has its own rewards.

13.  No one is paying attention to me
Therefore no one will notice if you lapse.  When we revert back to old behaviour, people always notice.

14.  If I change, I am “inauthentic”
Sometimes we refuse to adapt to new situations because “it isn’t me.”  For example, saying that “I am not good at giving positive recognition.  That’s just not me.”

15.  I have the wisdom to assess my own behaviour
But are you being objective?  Often we credit successes to our efforts while the failures are caused by others.

16.  My environment is my friend
We think we are in sync with our environment, but actually it’s at war with us claims Goldsmith. Throughout our day we enter new environments which can change our behaviour in sly ways, and we need to pay more attention to its influence on us.

It’s a daunting list isn’t it?  Makes you wonder why we bother, but if we don’t change and grow we can become stagnant and too set in our ways. 

Goldsmith goes on to provide strategies to make the changes you want in your life and your business.  Using the Wheel of Change, he recommends you

  • ·      create something new,
  • ·      preserve what’s working for you,
  • ·      eliminate what isn’t, and
  • ·      accept what you can’t change.

Then to keep you on track, he has come up with daily questions to ask yourself, so you can measure not just how well you are doing but how much you are trying to change.

As Goldsmith shares no one can make us change unless we truly want to change.  The key there is self-awareness, of knowing where you need to change how you behave, how you think and how you show up in the world.  And that takes some tough introspection on your part.  

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