It’s fair to say that I spend a lot of time reviewing my own personal performance. I’m fascinated by techniques that improve my professional approach and my personal wellbeing. During a super busy 2019, with a full schedule of work, charity, sport, and family activities, I became obsessed with the challenge of achieving effective change, rather than simply improving efficiency. This focus has become even more important since the pandemic has disrupted our lives in unprecedented ways.
Effective change is finding a new way to approach or achieve something, while efficiency focuses on improving an existing process.
What is the one thing you want to change or improve in your personal or professional life?
Keep this question in mind as we break down the one concept and one strategy that have helped me.
Concept: Knowledge, Motivation, Action
Aim to maintain a healthy balance between knowledge, motivation, and action. I picture them as the interlinking parts of a circle, with ‘effective change’ written in the centre.
Do you read inspirational books, or watch motivational videos, only to achieve limited progress? Do you try different approaches without getting the desired result? Or do you have a goal but no idea how to achieve it?
It’s very easy to focus on one of these aspects and expect change. You can be motivated to act, but without sufficient knowledge, you are unlikely to approach the situation correctly. Similarly, you can have all the right knowledge and motivation, but if you put off taking action, nothing will ever change.
Imagine you wanted to learn a new language, researched the best online courses, constantly talked to friends and colleagues about how excited you were to visit the country with your new skill, but never set aside any time to engage with the content. How well do you think you’d fare at learning the new language?
I find these are the best ways to get started:
Gather knowledge. The internet is a great place to start, but I suggest talking to people, and for more in-depth knowledge, invest some time in reading a book on the subject.
Who do you know that has made a similar change? Who in your circle of contacts might know someone who has? As simple as it sounds, sending a request via social media for support or recommendations on where to get more information can yield positive results and connect you quickly with someone who can share valuable experience. Use these conversations and books to develop ideas on how to approach change, and importantly, consider the pitfalls that others have encountered.
Motivation: This is somewhat personal, but I find it very effective to tell people about what you want to achieve and make a commitment to someone you wouldn’t want to disappoint.
It’s all too easy to keep secret a change you want to make for fear of judgement. You’ll be surprised how many other people have the same desire for change. Tell your partner what you want to do, or your line manager at work. Ensure they’re aware of the change and the timeline in which you want to make progress.
Action: Make a list of next steps, and, in the words of Nike, Just. Do. It. Don’t be afraid to fail, and keep trying until you find an effective method for achieving measurable success.
You will never have all the knowledge, all the motivation, or be able to take all the necessary action, but striking a balance between the three, in a continuous cycle, will help you make effective changes and amplify your successes.