Over the years, I have witnessed countless attempts by professionals from all walks of life to change some aspect of their behavior in leading others.
Studying why some have failed while others have succeeded reveals tremendously helpful insights. The difference between the two has led us to develop a simple and practical five-step model for developing skills that anyone with the desire to grow can follow.
Following all five of these steps will help anyone sustain both personal and professional behavior change. The trick is making sure you do all five steps. Leaving out any single step, especially the last one, can dramatically decrease your chance of sustained behavioral change.
FIVE STEPS FOR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
- Creating Awareness
- Finding the Desire to Change
- Developing New Skills
- Taking Action
- Building a Support Network
To illustrate the power of these steps, let us use the example of someone who wants to improve their health.
You realize you are not in the physical shape that you think you should be in.
Maybe you read an article on health, went to the doctor, or noticed other peoples’ improved quality of life. These are all examples of a new idea, fact, or impression that hits you as a result of feedback from another person such as a friend or coach, or even just a personal discovery.
If there is no desire for change, this is where progress already stops. Sometimes it takes a few times noticing or being told that something should change before we actually move beyond this first step to be successful with our goals.
You desire to do something with this new awareness. You want to do something about it because you are dissatisfied with the current status. You do not want to be unhealthy. You do not like the way you currently feel. The desire to change these things needs to come from you and you alone. It’s about a personal motivation to do something about this new knowledge that will lead to a new mindset.
If the desire to change comes from you, and you’re dedicated to making it happen, you’re ready to move on to step three.
Once you are aware and want to change, it is necessary to get the resources and skills to prepare you for action. In order to effectively improve your health, invest time in learning to read food labels, identifying the right kind of diet for your needs, and what exercises would be helpful for you.
This is a really great time to look into hiring a professional, perhaps a trainer or nutritionist, to help you learn the skills you need to sustain your progress.
Now that you are armed with awareness, desire, and new resources and skills, you are prepared to put these tools to work for you. The action step is where the rubber meets the road. Set reasonable goals that encourage you to keep growing. Use the new resources you’ve found. Start making small changes where you can.
Unfortunately, this is the step where change often fizzles out. Despite the successful completion of all the other previous steps, this is where people tend to feel discouraged. They might allow old habits to take over. The needs of the day soon dominate and they discover little has changed. Without the last step, Step #5, the likelihood of sustained change is considerably lower. The key to SUSTAINED personal change is in the final step.
No matter how strong-minded we are, there will come a point where we need to build a team that can help us continue. Sharing your goal or commitment with a trusted friend, asking him or her to keep you on track, will be the final piece of the formula for personal success.
In those moments of weakness or discouragement, your supportive associate will kindly yet firmly watch out for you, encourage you, and provide the support over time that you seek. When this final step is ignored, the longevity of your goal dies over time. Building a strong support network is what makes all the difference in the world for you to accomplish the change you desire.