Change Your Behavior! Don’t Make New Year Resolutions

Written by on January 2, 2016 in Personal Productivity with 0 Comments

Did you make a New Year?s Resolution?  How do you think that will work for you?  If you are anything like me, you might last until the end of January, but probably not past the first week.

This year, I?m making a plan to change my behavior.  I have a lot of things I would like to change but I know that I can only focus on ONE thing at a time.  If I decide to make too many changes I get overwhelmed and will go back to my old behaviors.

4categoriesThat?s why I?ve decided to set only 4 goals for the year, one in each of these categories:  Business, Physical, Spiritual and Relationships.  For example, here are my goals for next year:

Business: Transition my business to focus on providing procedure documentation consulting and coaching services

Physical: Eliminate most of the sugar from my diet to improve my health and lose 10 pounds

Spiritual: Find something that I?m grateful for every day

Relationships: Be a better manager, wife, mother and grandmother

What changes in your behavior do you want to make?  Your categories could be quite different from mine.  Pick the 3-4 categories that are most important to you and set your individual goals.

If you are looking for ideas to make a change in your behavior next year, here are some thoughts to get you started.

Determine Your Focus

What is the ONE thing you want to do better?  Make a list.  For example,

I want to:

  • Get really good at delegating work to my subordinates.
  • Get really good at facilitating staff meetings.
  • Get really good at coaching my staff, not just during performance reviews.
  • Get really good at listening to my staff?s ideas.
  • Get really good at writing reports for the executive team.
  • Get really good at managing my time effectively.

Now pick one from the list.  Keep the rest handy for next year and add to the list as you come up with new ideas.

Define Your Wheel Of Change

My new favorite book is Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts ? Becoming the Person You Want To Be by Marshall Goldsmith.  Goldsmith notes that we have four options when changing our behavior:  change or keep the positive elements, change or keep the negative elements.  Creating and Preserving are the Positive elements; Eliminating and Accepting are the Negative elements.  No matter what outcome you are seeking, you must answer these 4 questions:

  1. What is one thing I?ll have to create?
  2. What is one thing I?ll have to preserve?
  3. What is one thing I?ll have to eliminate?
  4. What is one thing I?ll have to accept?

Only Four Decisions

Here?s an example from my own Business goal:  I want to focus on providing procedure documentation consulting and coaching.

Create?  A schedule that forces me to write (blog), create products (online) and advertise Procedure Documentation services daily

Preserve?  My existing Project Management clients until I can replace the revenue with Procedure Documentation Consulting

Eliminate?  The busywork that provides diversions that keeps me from being bored so I can concentrate on the transition to procedure documentation services

Accept?  That doing only one thing will be difficult for a while and I?ll need a compelling WHY to stay focused on the behavior change I want to make.

Answer each question for each of the categories you have identified in Step 1.

Take Action

Create entries on your calendar and schedule your day so you actively work on the behaviors you want to change.  For example, if you want to improve your Relationships, schedule a meeting with your subordinates on a regular basis.  Maybe every Thursday afternoon you plan to meet with one staff member.  If you have family members who you don?t see every day, schedule time on your calendar for a phone call or Skype session.

The point is to schedule something every day from your Focus categories to make a change in your behavior and take daily action.


At the end of the day, check your commitment and accomplishments.  Ask yourself:  Did I do my best today to _________?  Write out the questions in a spreadsheet and check your commitment every night before you go to bed.  Rate yourself from 1 to 10 on how well you did for each question.  At the end of the week, review your score and decide how to do better next week.



Final Thoughts

Remember, we can only focus on one thing at a time, so choose your main focus.  Schedule your activities first thing each day so you don?t get distracted.  And most important, don?t quit!  Change can be difficult but the rewards are great.




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