7 Key Success Factors for Implementing Personal Change
There are many reasons why personal change initiatives fail.
According to some scientific research, it takes on average 66 days for a new behavior to become a new habit. That’s a little over two months!
No wonder so many people give up and abandon their personal change initiatives before reaching success. They typically quit too early in the process, often because they underestimate the time required to fully inculcate and instill a new behavior or a new change into their daily routines.
Don’t let this happen to you. Here are 7 Key Success Factors you can use to implement any personal change initiative in any aspect of your life.
1. Put time aside daily / weekly to review the actions you are taking, to monitor progress towards your goal, to make adjustments in either actions or stipulated deadline as necessary, and to re-commit yourself to achieving your desired outcome. Spend some time to also read some motivational quotes or anything else that personally inspires you.
2. Give priority to your personal change initiative over daily tasks. It is far too easy to get overloaded with the necessities and chores of daily life. But the actions on your “to do” list are not moving you in the direction you desired. Create a “Priority To Do” list of the things you need to do in order to achieve your desired outcome. Give this list priority over the things on your daily list.
3. Write your personal change goals in a SMART format:
This technique has worked well over the years in the business world. Now apply it to your own Project You Personal Change Initiative.
Here’s an example of a not SMART goal: to lose weight and get in shape.
What is meant by “get in shape?” How much weight needs to be lost? And in what time period?
Here’s how to translate that to a SMART goal: lose 8 pounds in 30 days and increase personal fitness level by walking at least four miles three times a week.
What you want to measure is not only the outcome, but also the action steps being taken.
What is achievable here is walking four times a week. If you only lose 6 pounds in 30 days, despite having done your four walks a week, it merely means you need to extend your deadline by a couple of weeks. You’re certainly not a failure just because you cannot hit a self-imposed deadline.
4. Share your goals with others and allow them to hold you accountable — when you share your personal change goal with someone else, it helps you to be more committed to accomplishing the goal (partly because sharing the goal is a bit like promising the other person that you are committed to it). Allow this other person to hold you accountable by permitting them to help you track progress, push and motivate you, and even cajole you into action when necessary. Yes, they may become a nag; but not necessarily more so than our own conscience!
5. Focus on 1-3 change initiatives at a time. This is why New Year’s Resolutions often go astray. People make New Year’s Resolutions lists that quickly tally into double digits. No one can make that many changes in their life all at one time. It is best to pick 1-3 that are of the highest priority for you and focus on these. Once one or two are accomplished (which takes on average 66 days according to one scientific study), then add one more.
6. Track progress. If you do not monitor your progress you will not have a good understanding of the realistic nature of the deadline you have set for yourself. Failing to meet a self-determined deadline may or may not be an indicator of failure. Most likely it is merely an indicator of failing to set a realistic deadline. Also, by tracking progress you will know if the actions you are taking are having the intended results. If they are not, you have the opportunity to make adjustments or try new actions.
7. Recognize effort and reward success. Too many people do not give themselves credit or self praise for their efforts, despite the fact that such actions are highly self motivating. There is no need to only focus on outcomes. Focus on the actions you are taking. And, when success is yours be sure that the reward is appropriate. Managed to lose those 8 pounds? Celebrating with a couple of slices of pizza is fine. Celebrating by eating a whole pizza only serves to negate your hard efforts and some of the success you have just enjoyed!
It is not enough to commit to change. You also have to commit to action. These 7 Key Success Factors for Implementing Personal Change are designed to help to commit to action, and then to sustain (and modify) the actions you take.
Here’s one more tool for you to use: the Project You Personal Change Action Plan, which incorporates these 7 Key Success Factors for Implementing Personal Change.