Did you gain your “Covid 19” last year?
I don’t mean to ask if you contracted SARS-COV-2. I mean, did you, like so many of us, gain a few pounds over the course of lockdowns and quarantines and sudden work-from-home arrangements?
Or did you find yourself falling into other unhealthy habits? Perhaps in your desire to keep updated on current events, you found yourself spending far too much time online, browsing news sites and social media. Or maybe you used to consistently exercise, but with kids doing school at home, your need to balance work and kids meant letting exercise habits wane.
Maybe you don’t need a reset—maybe you need to implement new habits. Many people who had to suddenly learn to work from home while balancing household needs didn’t really have time to develop good productivity habits. They just started in “damage control” mode and never got out of it.
Whatever the situation, wherever you find yourself needing a reset, now might be a good time to revisit the five steps you need to pursue to make sustainable personal change.
All personal change starts with an “aha!” moment—the moment you become aware of new information, possibilities, and behaviors. This is your “I coulda had a V-8!” moment—the awareness data point, the forehead-slapping moment where you recognize that something needs to change.
There are as many different awareness moments as people and situations—it could be standing on a scale, realizing that hours have gone by while you’ve scrolled social media, or feeling buried in work and knowing that there must be a better way to organize your day. It could also be the moment that a colleague or friend mentions something you haven’t faced yet—a comment from someone who cares and says you need to change.
Of course, the “aha!” moment is only the first step of making a change. Once you are aware of the need for change, you have to ask, “do I care?” It’s possible to say “no” at this stage—or perhaps, “not right now.” But if you say “yes,” then you have to evaluate whether you have the internal motivation to do something. In other words, do you care enough to provoke real change?
Gathering Skills & Resources
Once you’ve identified the area of change and decided you have the motivation to change, it’s time to gather resources—the materials, supplies, knowledge, information, and equipment to enable change. But be careful—don’t just fall back on skills and resources that you’ve used before if they did not provoke lasting change. Avoid Einstein’s definition of insanity—the idea of doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. And if your world has changed, it’s possible that old tools won’t work, anyway—you may need to find new tools and resources for your new arrangements.
Here it is—the moment you’ve planned for—the point where you take action. Once you’ve prepared yourself to make change, identify one or two specific actions that you can take. These actions should be realistic and reasonable—small actions that you can use to build new habits. Your habits might look something like:
- A commitment to walk for fifteen minutes each morning before work.
- A timer set to govern your social media consumption.
- A plan to swap a sugary, high-calorie drink for water twice a day or a few times per week.
Your action doesn’t have to be large—in fact, a small change that you can do consistently is better than a large change that you abandon within a few days. Small changes will give you a solid foundation to build more habits.
This may be the most important step in making sure that your change is sustainable and lasting—finding someone to support you! Make sure you have someone else—an organization, team, trusted friend or colleague—to follow up and help you sustain personal change.
The past two years have been filled with change and upheaval, but it’s never too late to reset, recharge, and restart. With these five steps, you can build lasting change that will see you through whatever the future brings.