Human beings are designed to resist change. Biological organisms are designed to establish and maintain homeostasis. We are designed to avoid pain. In fact, pain is probably the only feedback mechanism that everyone respects automatically. But as a human, your purpose is to push through pain.
Here are three tricks that will make it easier for you to become better in 2017, if you follow them.
Step 1: Embrace Change
Change is something to be highly prized. Athletes get stronger when they work out and practice. They may even injure themselves, but they keep going because they want to change for the better. We go to school because we want to get smarter. Most kids complain about school, but they keep going because they need to learn. Learning is so important that our society has passed laws that require kids to go to school. We use money and other incentives to encourage people to work hard, to learn and grow, so that they can enter the work force and be more productive.
If you want to be happier or more successful, embrace your humanity. Look for negative feedback in your life. Instead of avoiding it because it’s painful, embrace it. If it is physical exercise, feel the burn. If it is some other aspect of personal improvement, take responsibility and embrace the embarrassment you may feel (or whatever emotion it might be) as normal emotional feedback. If it is something that needs to be changed in your business, make a commitment to yourself and your team to pay the price of making change.
Negative emotions are not pain that needs to be avoided. Instead, they are healthy ways that your body gives you feedback, alerting you to how you need to respond to your circumstances in order to make effective change. You will become better at making change when you become less defensive. Stop getting angry. Stop being resentful. Start treating your emotions as valuable.
The reason for embracing change should be obvious. It is the only way you are going to grow. It is the only way you are going to become more successful. It is the only way you are going to become happier than you are today. Change will become easier when you embrace every aspect of what is involved with change.
Step 2: Be Satisfied With One Change at a Time
If you were to sit down right now and make a list of all the things that you would benefit from changing, I suspect that there would be more than one item on that list. But if you want to become successful at changing everything on that list, it is important to set yourself up for success and not failure.
Trying to change too many things at the same time can undermine your chances of success. I have read somewhere that humans are only capable of making two or three changes at once. So trying to change four things at once is a recipe for failure. But in my opinion, trying to change even two things at once is likely to cause a certain degree of confusion. It is easier to change if you are really clear about what you are changing and if you can focus on making that single change.
Consider the arguments against multitasking. Scientific research shows that when the mind has to switch back and forth between two tasks, it becomes less efficient at performing both tasks. When you focus on one thing at a time, you can get that one thing done more quickly and more accurately. Then you pick up the second thing, and you do it more quickly and more accurately. And in the long run, you got both things done more quickly and more accurately by doing one at a time. The same thing applies to change.
When you are trying to change one thing at a time, your communication about that one thing is going to be clearer. When you try to talk about making two changes at once, people are going to get confused from time to time about which thing is more important and where their focus ought to be. Do not ask them to multitask and try to figure out the nuances of how to change two things at once. Focus on one at a time. Make it the priority of the moment. Make the change more quickly and more efficiently, and then move on to the next thing that you want to change.
If you think that focusing on one change at a time is going to keep you from getting to everything on your list, you need change the way you think. Realize that you can work on one thing for a couple of weeks, and even if you have not perfected the change, there is a high probability that you have at least made some progress. You have the ability to put that change down for a little while and start working on the second change. Make some incremental progress on that second issue and then put it down, so that you can focus on a third issue. And if you would like, you can always go back to something you were working on previously and make some additional incremental change. The important thing is just to focus on one change at a time.
Step 3: Automate
If you are around me very long you will notice that I always come back to talking about processes. Everything in life involves a process. Everything in business involves a process. When you understand the way that systems work, you start to recognize the processes that are taking place on an ongoing basis. When you understand systems, then you can become really effective at producing the outcomes that you want.
Good examples of biological systems include breathing, eating, sleeping, and so forth. Nobody finishes sleeping in one week or one year. There is no point in setting a goal to get all your sleeping done. It is something you do day after day. But if the sleeping process is not working well, you may be getting tired. It is a process that you can troubleshoot and improve, so that you get a better sleep and better performance physically, mentally and emotionally.
You might think of your habits in the same way. You brush your teeth, exercise, eat dinner with your family, or have any other habits. These are processes that will repeat themselves day after day, week after week and year after year. If you have established habits that serve you well, then you are reaping the rewards of a good habit. The health of your physical, mental and emotional systems are the predictable result of the habits that you have established in your life.
The same principle applies to business. Think about it. What is the first thing that you do when you come into work every day? If it is something you do automatically then that is something that always gets done. But if you do not do it automatically, then there are likely many days in which it does not get done. Whether you enjoy doing it or not, you are probably forcing yourself to do it without much thought, because it is simply an expectation that you have accepted as part of your reality.
The best businesses have established processes that allow multiple employees to work together. It is like an assembly line. If the guy at the front of the assembly line is doing his job and products are coming down the assembly line to the second guy on a predictable basis, then the next guy knows what he needs to do. He knows how fast he needs to do it, because he is going to push it along to the third guy. A company with an effective assembly line is pushing out products faster than a company which has been unable to automate. Look at your own company. Who are the people in your company that everyone else seems to be waiting on? Where you find bottlenecks in your business, that is where the process is not working efficiently.
There are two benefits of focusing on the processes in your life or in your business. The first benefit of improving processes is that everything works better. People become more efficient, and people within organizations work together more efficiently. When you are producing better results with better efforts, most people are a lot happier.
But the real secret benefit of focusing on processes is that when you automate a change within a process, you no longer have to think about it. Think of all the things you do every day that you never think about. When was the last you had to remind yourself to breathe? How often do you have to think about brushing your teeth? You probably have a number of other routines or habits that have already become part of your self-identity. It is just the way that you are or the way that you do things. You don’t even have to think about it.
Well, the things that you want to change are the things that you have not incorporated into an automatic process. They have not become habits. They are not yet a part of your identity.
The changes that you want to make are not going to happen automatically. You are going to have to think about them and focus on doing things differently. You are going to have to focus on getting it right.
But as you make changes, you want to lock those changes in, so that you can stop thinking about them and focus on changing something else. So what you want to do is identify the process. Identify the way that you are going to do things in the future. Communicate to yourself or to your team why you want the process to operate in a particular way. Reset expectations about the way things are. Practice the new process until it becomes automatic. Create the new expectation, so that you and everyone else will not deviate from the process and go back to the old, less effective way of doing things.
When you have locked in the change you have made to a process, then you can move on to something else. The change you have made will have become automatic. You will not have to think about it. You will be able to focus on changing one more thing, without multitasking and without making excuses for why it is too hard to do things a better way.
I have been a lawyer now for over 24 years. I understand the laws about how things work, whether you are talking about individuals or their businesses. In 2017, I have organized a team of people who are ready to help you change and become more successful.
Realize that in order for you to make an effective change; we have to ask you to acknowledge that there is something in your life or in your business that is not working quite the way you want it to. As an outsider, it is easier for us to see what those things are. And to the extent that we have studied those issues and learned something about how those systems operate, we want to give you the benefit of our expertise.
If you are ready to become more successful in 2017, then SL Circle is the place for you. We look forward to seeing you at our events in the near future.