I want to share a secret with you: change is difficult. Well, of course, you knew that, didn’t you? But if, like me, you always want to find a quick way to make things easier for yourself, you might also have read Kevin Kruse’s recent blog 5 Simple Strategies for Peak Productivity.
Not only are we ‘crazy busy’ as Kevin Kruse says, we’re also bombarded with advice concerning how to combat the ‘crazy’ bit. One writer after another provides us with top tips to conquer the things that cause us stress. Often we read and nod, knowing that the advice makes sense. We may even try it out for a few days, but after a while ‘crazy busy’ takes over and we continue pretty much as we always have. Why? Why do we continue to ignore what seems at first glance to be good advice, making our lives more difficult than they might be?
The truth is, following simple advice is really difficult.
a) The advice is issued to ‘everyman’ whereas in fact each of us is different and has to find what suits us
b) If we want to change habits it takes commitment, support and time – in that order. And it’s much easier to commit if you’re part of a community working to achieve similar outcomes. If that were not the case organisations like weightwatchers wouldn’t need to exist.
So before taking on board 5 simple strategies, or 10 top tips, or 7 simple steps, ‘take a moment’ (that in itself will be hard for some of us) and decide whether any of them could work for you. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Identify what you want to work on, and be aware of your motivation to change. It may be logical to have only one piece of paper on your desk at a time, but if that’s not the way you usually work, what will you have to give up in order to achieve it and how is your current habit meeting your needs? Do you want to work this way because ‘it’s the right thing to do’ (who says?) or because you really believe it will add value to your way of working and perhaps allow you to feel more in control of your work. You need to engage with your goal emotionally as well as intellectually. How will things be different when you’ve established your new habit? What will be the rewards, and what will you have to give up? Is your new commitment to get some exercise every day? What could get in the way? Where are you going to find the extra time? And don’t forget, taking exercise requires energy, so the first step might be to ensure you get enough sleep. Take some time to track back to understand yourself and how you might hijack yourself.
Take one step at a time, keep checking your progress, celebrate your successes (by which I mean notice, and congratulate yourself) and share your goal with someone else who has your best interests at heart and can help you to stay motivated. Most of all, accept that it will take time, proper encouragement, and self-compassion.