You have set your New Year goals
(NOT resolutions, I hope). You are highly motivated to achieve them. And then something happens and you lose steam. Meet the culprit. It’s called Resistance to Change. And it lies in each of us. The fact is that the #1 factor that lies between us and achieving our goals is US. We often search for the culprit outside. It’s the economy. It’s my mom’s chocolate cake. The gym doesn’t have the right equipment. Sound familiar?
It’s not possible to be aware of all sources of resistance to change. Expecting that there will be resistance to change and being prepared to manage it is a proactive step. Recognizing behaviors that indicate possible resistance will raise awareness of the need to address the concerns.
At the end of the day all sources of resistance to change need to be acknowledged and our emotions validated. It’s far better to anticipate objections than to spend your time putting out fires, and knowing how to overcome resistance to change is a vital part of any change management plan.
Here are some steps you can take to manage your resistance so there can be greater flow in meeting your goals.
1) Use Your Strengths and Energizers – Each of us have unique strengths to meeting our goals. We are often unaware of our signature strengths or don’t proactively use them in achieving our goals. Utilizing our strengths also brings us great joy in accomplishing our tasks and creates positive energy. When we are fully energized, that energy is contagious and makes us more optimistic and able to overcome obstacles and habits that don’t serve us. Do you know your Strengths? Use the resources here to determine your signature strengths and energizers.
2) Take Baby Steps and Focus on Positive Progress – When you initially face a goal that is daunting, breaking it up into baby steps can make it easier. You may have limiting beliefs about your ability to accomplish a goal. Worse, you may have even failed at that goal before. Breaking it down into baby steps you KNOW you can accomplish creates positive energy and momentum. For example, your goal is to get more mentors at work and you are terrified of asking someone to mentor you. Start by just making a list of people and reward yourself for doing that. Then ask one of these people to go out for coffee / tea. That’s all. Then reward yourself for doing that. Constantly ask yourself “What is working well in meeting this goal?” When we focus on the negative, we beat ourselves up. When we focus on the positive it creates tremendous energy.
3) Re-Evaluate Your Goals – Take a step back. If you are losing steam on a goal you have, ask yourself a series of questions: “How important is this goal really to me”? “Why is this goal important to me”? “How does this goal inspire me”? “Is this a goal that I really WANT to achieve or something that I think I SHOULD achieve”? “SHOULD” goals are usually driven by external expectations rather than internal motivations. One great way to distinguish this is to take a deep breath, close your eyes and feel into the goal. Does it make you feel excited or is there a feeling of dread or confusion? If the answer to that question is the latter, you may want to determine if the goal is truly authentic. Finding a way to connect the goal to something that is intrinsically important to you will create more energy to overcome the resistance. It’s hard to achieve a goal we truly don’t want. If you are unfamiliar with the process of Goal Setting, ask for help here.
4) Make resistance your friend – Acknowledging that there is resistance inside of you and it is what keeps you from meeting your goals is the first and most important step. You stop looking on the outside and start looking on the inside. A corollary to this step is to not beat yourself up for having resistance. It’s like tooth plaque – somewhat undesirable but we all have it. When you beat yourself up for having that chocolate cake that sabotages your diet, what happens? You feel guilty, and then go for that second piece of chocolate cake. So fighting resistance creates more resistance.
5) Use Resistance to Look Inside – Resistance is a great tool for us to increase our self-awareness which will eventually get us to a more effective way to meeting our goals. Once we have determined that a goal is important we look inside to determine what are the beliefs or habits that are causing us to undermine our goals. For example, I know a leader who is an extremely talented individual. Her goal is to get to the next level but she feels uncomfortable asking others for help or promoting her own work. She will need to do both of these in order to get to the next level. She has a belief system that in order to “earn her promotion” she has to get there on her own and anything less would be “unfair”. Examining our resistance without any judgment or blaming ourselves allows us to become aware of limiting beliefs, and to work with these limiting beliefs and reframe them.
We resist change of a state called homeostasis. It means our brains cling to the familiar because the unknown creates Fear. Even if a new way of being is better and pain-free, we will stick with what we know time and time again because of how our brains are wired. Becoming aware of it makes the change process a little bit easier to resist. From that point of view, apply the following strategies to ease yourself and become more self aware.
6) Don’t change for the sake of change — Continual change leads to resistance. Making a change for the purpose of shaking things up makes it more difficult to get acceptance of necessary changes. Save your energy for more important changes.
7) Don’t be afraid to change your mind — Some changes don’t turn out as well as others. Why not say “forget it.” Nothing is gained by forcing yourself to accept a change you know isn’t necessary.
8) Don’t be too hard on yourself – Most people need a little assistance, and it’s not because they are weak; it’s not because they are inferior; it’s not because they don’t have willpower. It’s because the human mind has evolved in a way that makes us hard-wired to resist change. Even when the change is positive, we will cling to the familiar with unbelievable tenacity, even when the familiar is painful. So, don’t make it too hard on yourself; go gentle.
I hope you can use these strategies to help you meet your goals and I wish you much success. I leave you with a quote:
“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” ~ Andrew Carnegie
Do comment and let me know which of these strategies worked for you or if you have any strategies that you’d like to share with others.
Hope you had a merry Christmas and I wish you every success for the New Year in 2014!