The world is not going to go back to how it was … we can only learn from the past and push forward.
I have found that personal development comes about by making a series of conscious and effective changes, best achieved when three distinct aspects come together as part of a repeatable process.
Knowledge – do you have the knowledge to make the change? Do you need more information? And more importantly, do you know what information you need and where to get it? Do you know which questions to ask and who to ask? Our personal network, combined with the internet, is a vast resource if used properly, that is underutilized all too often.
Obtaining the right knowledge is a key aspect of effective change. Without it, you can waste valuable time on frustrating pitfalls and learning the hard way more than you need.
Actions – do you have a plan to make the change? Writing down your goals is important, but what about your actions? Are they structured in order and in sufficient detail? Are other people involved and do they know they’re involved? And importantly, are they the right actions? Taking action is massively important but knowing what specific action to take is fundamental to making effective change.
Motivation – how motivated are you to make the change? It doesn’t matter if you have all the knowledge and have action plans in place, whether posted on your fridge door or in your physical or digital notebook. If you’re not motivated to make the change, you simply won’t. An often confused or misguided aspect of making effective change is the impact of motivation alone feeling like progress. It can be your greatest ally when used in just the right proportion.
Think of motivation as a renewable energy source. With sufficient motivation from your preferred source, adding more won’t help move you forward. The challenge comes from applying the right amount of motivation to your knowledge so you can act.
Reflection on the above three aspects is also essential. Too much of any one aspect can lead to frustration, and people giving up. Consider each aspect as an evolving and repeatable process, through which you can achieve effective change.
One area to get you started is structure. In lockdown, your daily, weekly, even monthly structure has been affected drastically. Maybe you have spent the time learning a new language, or possibly just binge-watching Netflix. Either way, how you adapt to this new lack of structure will have a huge impact on your personal and professional development in the coming months, and possibly years.
The starting point for building an effective structure is first letting go of any notions of perfection or plans that only work in isolation. Too often perfect project plans are impacted or even crushed by external factors beyond our control, whether that means disruptive colleagues in the office, or after-work drinks invitations that are too tempting to pass up.
Think about structuring your day by time rather than by task (knowledge). Adjust your calendar and dedicate every hour of your day to a different task or aspect. Use colour coding and tags to make it visible in your day-to-day routine (action). Take everything on your to-do-list and put it to one side. Now consider how important each aspect is before you put them back (motivation). After a 2- or 4-week period, review what worked and what didn’t, and adjust your schedule accordingly (reflection).
It’s surprising how much a simple adjustment to your schedule can help you find time for the things you really want to be doing.
Personally, I’m going to be (re)deploying this method to my own schedule to ensure I have time to put together more articles in the coming months. I’m going to spend 15 minutes reflecting on this change, revisiting some useful articles on time management, and creating a simple set of actions to help me incorporate it into my routine and review my motivation, which is very high right now but needs to be maintained when my day doesn’t align with my schedule.
As an entrepreneur, employee, and mentor, I’m fascinated by personal development and helping people achieve their personal and professional objectives. I post related content regularly, so please follow The UnExtraordinaries to receive updates. If you enjoyed this article, consider giving it a Like or sharing it, to help it reach a wider audience. If you want to get in touch, feel free to contact me here or on LinkedIn.
Have a great day!