True Insights #20 How to Change
During this time of uncertainty and challenge, our hearts go out to the people—many of them are our friends—affected by the coronavirus crisis.
I thought about delaying this edition True Insights until things get better. Then I witnessed how our clients and friends are adapting to the new situation and getting on with life. I decided I should follow their lead. I hope this edition of our newsletter is useful to you.
A New Decade
I know I am stating the obvious here, but isn’t it worth noting that January 2020 was not just the start of a new year. It was the start of a new decade.
New beginnings like the start of a new decade motivate many of us to want to improve ourselves. I am certainly one of them. Maybe you are like me and have things you’d like to develop or get better at in the coming decade?
The Ideal Self vs. The Real Self
You might think of things you want to improve as gaps between your ideal self and your current self.
I am NOT suggesting that you aren’t wonderful just as you are. I’ve met most everyone who might read this newsletter. I can probably tell you right now all of the good things I see in you.
As wonderful as you are, I suspect you may want to get even better. We all know that as works in progress, if we are not growing we are regressing.
A Simple, Powerful Tool for Making Change Happen
This brings us to a simple, powerfully effective tool that helps us grow, change, and improve. It was developed and refined over the years but Dr. Richard Boyatzis of Case Western Reserve University in Ohio and it is called Intentional Change Theory (ICT).
ICT is a well-researched model that tells us exactly how people succeed at improving themselves. Think of it as a simple yet powerful process for becoming whatever you want to become.
Here’s a snapshot view of ICT:
First, Define Your Ideal
The process of change and growth begins with an ideal you’d like to achieve.
What is the ideal you like? In an ideal week in the life you want to create, what are you are doing, who are you spending time with, and how are you feeling?
If you want some help identifying this ideal, the easiest way to do it is talk to people you trust. Ask them what they think the ideal you is and take notes. Our trusted friends and family often know us better than we know ourselves. They know what is likely to make us happier.
It’s a good idea to frame this thinking within a specific time period so that you don’t just coast along without making progress. For me, five years is the right length of time to focus on, even though I might sometimes think about what I want to become in 10 or 20 years.
Next, Identify Strengths and Gaps
Once you’ve got a sense of what you want to be in the coming years, take some time to answer two questions:
What are your Strengths? What qualities, characteristics, and skills do you possess that already fit your Ideal Self? Give yourself a little credit; you have many strengths that can propel you to where you want to go.
What Are your Gaps? Where do your Real self and Ideal Self Differ? In terms of health and wellness, the gap for me is about 10 kg! I don’t feel bad about it, but it isn’t ideal. I hope you’ll think the same way about your gaps. Don’t feel bad, but recognize the objective fact that there are some gaps between Ideal and Real self.
If you aren’t sure your strengths are really strengths, and you want more insight into what your gaps might be, go back and ask those people you trust. Their insights will help you be more self-aware.
Then, Set an Agenda
Your agenda is your plan for closing the gaps between your Ideal Self and Real Self. A high quality plan will include:
- Specific goals
- Things that have to get done to reach each goal
- A timeline and milestones
- A back-up plan in case you run into trouble.
- A support team. They may be different for different goals.
Developing a learning agenda takes a lot of work. That’s why a lot of people make very little progress on the things they actually want to achieve. We drift because we are not willing to get specific and organize our process.
The best way to make sure you have a clear, feasible learning agenda is to ask someone to coach or mentor you on each goal. You might also set up mutual coaching relationships with people. I use this method quite often to make sure I achieve my goals.
Finally, Experiment and Practice
That’s right. You have to do experiments and practice in order to learn, change, or grow. You’ll have to figure out a lot of things by trial and error.
As you might have guessed, the best way to make sure you are motivated to keep trying and that you learn from your experiments is to talk about your process with people you trust who will encourage you and help hold you accountable.
The Most Important Step: Get Support
Who do you have in your life who believes in you and can help you achieve your goals? Why do I ask?
Because if you don’t have at least one person, preferably 2 or 3, helping you achieve your goals, you will not succeed.
People are more willing to help than most of us imagine. Reach out ask for support. I am guessing you will be happily surprised by the response.
Yours in Learning,
P.S. Click here for a short video offering suggestions about how to build and work with your support team.