To exist is to change; to change is to mature; to mature is to create oneself endlessly.

Henri Bergson 

Real Change: A model that works

Lisa Pasbjerg, DCSW, CMC, PCC

Now is the time that many of us are making New Year’s resolutions, or are thinking that we should be. And, from a business perspective those in leadership positions are naturally looking at their personal goals, and well as the success or lack of it in their organizational goals.

They pour over data, trying to determine trends, look back and discover that goals they had set for the last calendar or fiscal years have not only not been met, but have been forgotten in the fast-paced work world, where “urgent”, so often supersedes what is truly important.

Did you know that according to research fully 77% of New Year’s resolutions are broken within two weeks of making them?  That the same resolutions, (to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, and improve relationships), are made year after year, on the average, five or more years before they are accomplished? Why is that?

Among the reasons:

  1. An ineffective model:  Lack of knowledge about how successful change really happens, pushes people prematurely into the action stage of changing behaviors.  This premature action, without the necessary groundwork and preparation being in place to make the change successful, almost always dooms these efforts to failure.

    The knowledge of and the ability to implement the extremely well researched “Stages of Change” model documented by James O. Prochaska. PhD et al., in the book Changing for Good, makes a huge difference in the chances for a successful and positive long-term outcome. Their research, involving multiple studies, on over 30 thousand people attempting to change many different behaviors, has been found to be so effective that it has been adopted by the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, the National Cancer Institute, and the Center for Disease Control and the American Cancer Society to name a few.
  2. Previous unsuccessful attempts:  Unfortunately the vast majority of people struggle for years to find effective solutions for their problems. With setbacks and failures common, and in fact, the norm, they often experience these repeated results as demoralizing, even, as sources of shame, and certainly as a blow to their sense of competency and self-confidence.  This can eventually extinguish the positive expectations and hope it takes to commit fully to trying again.
  3. Lack of support or accountability:  Many people, particularly those at high levels, don’t have the support of people around them with whom they can be completely candid, especially about perceived problems or weaknesses. C.E.O.s find themselves particularly alone as they set personal goals, whether related to their workplace or career.  They neither expect to, nor are they willing to share their vulnerabilities with staff, or board members, no matter how positive their working relationships. And often, folks at home are not an option either because they have a limited understanding of the context, or are simply not be able to “be there” literally or figuratively, in the way the C.E.O. needs.

    Although, friends and family can be very supportive to anyone working on significant personal change, they may sometimes also have a real investment in maintaining the status quo, and may resist, or even sabotage an individual’s efforts at new positive behaviors, particularly, if it points attention at their own need to make changes. (Think “drinking buddies”, or, sedentary friends.)

These are areas where working strategically with a coach can be invaluable. By creating a safe place to explore options and utilizing a defined structure for the change process, including helping the client with setting clear and measurable goals and developing a detailed plan to accomplish them, a skilled coach can set the stage for success and prevent disheartening multiple failures.  Most importantly, a coach can champion the client, regardless of any missteps, fears or setbacks by  providing the unfailing support and encouragement that many people find hard to come by, and, the regular and frequent accountability to the client’s self-determined goals, the coach is able to give the client exactly what they need to keep them positive and moving forward.

Are you happy with where you are going, and, could your goals use only some minor “tweaking” and polishing?  Or, do you need to make some serious changes in order to maximize your potential in your leadership role in the workplace, or, on a more personal level?  Either way, make sure this year you incorporate the critical concept of stages of change, and take the steps needed to create real, sustainable and powerful change.  Here’s to your success!

Copyright© 2017 Lisa Pasbjerg and FOCUSED COACHING LLC
This article may be reprinted, only with the permission of the author, and if it is reprinted in its entirety with full attribution.