If there’s one thing that’s constant in life, it’s that life is always changing. Just when you’ve reached your quarterly sales goal, your boss raises it for the next quarter. Just when you’ve got your job down to a science, restructuring places you in a new department. Just when you’ve learned the latest spreadsheet software, an upgrade is released, making the first nearly obsolete.
Sound familiar? For most people, particularly those of us in the fast-paced business world, change is about the only thing you can count on! To get ahead in business — indeed, in any aspect of life — you must learn how to deal with and make the most of change.
Change Resistance — Part of Being Human
Unfortunately, it’s our human nature to resist change, to stay within our comfort zones and avoid the hard work that change requires. Tackling change is a risk that we’re often reluctant to take, even when we’re sure that the result will be an improvement for our personal or professional lives.
For instance, how many of us know that a regular exercise program would greatly increase our quality of life? Yet we drive around the mall parking lot waiting for a close-in space to open up so that we won’t have to walk any more steps than absolutely necessary. We think we should change our exercise habits, we believe that a change would be beneficial to our health, we feel that we really should start exercising — so why do we still drive around the mall parking lot looking for the closest spot possible? Likewise, in business, how often do we think, believe, and feel that we should undertake a change, but neglect the opportunity to do so?
Just Do It!
I believe that the reason most of us don’t change is that we don’t focus on the key that underlies all change: DOING! In fact, it doesn’t matter what we think, believe, and feel. If we don’t DO, effective and lasting change will never happen.
Corporate America loves to study and analyze — but rarely does it DO anything differently. Companies send people to classes, have high-level executive meetings, allocate funding, and talk a lot about change. But rarely do they get beyond the talking stage. However, most companies feel better just preparing for, or getting ready to, change.
Keep in mind that even though your goal might seem miles away, it will get closer only when you take that first step of DOING.
Do the Right Things
There’s a saying that goes, “To accomplish nothing, attempt everything.” Accomplishing nothing is the danger of bursting out of the blocks in your enthusiasm to do without a focused plan of the RIGHT THINGS to do. Once you’ve decided to do, make a list of your options.
Say, for example, your boss has just increased your sales goals for the next quarter. You’re ready to tackle the new challenge — you’re ready to do. But first, make a list of all the different ways you can accomplish an increase in sales, such as asking existing clients for referrals, improving your prospecting or beginning a direct mail program. Of those actions you can take, decide which ones are the MVP — Most Valuable & Profitable — ones to take. Those are the RIGHT THINGS to do. Then when you’ve decided which actions are MVPs, you’re set to go, with a clear focus on what to do.
Do the Right Things Consistently
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator for one day — or even for a week — won’t result in any significant health benefits. Likewise, pursuing more sales one afternoon of every quarter probably won’t result in significant increases. Even if you’re doing the right things, you must do them CONSISTENTLY, or lasting and effective change will elude you.
What’s the secret to doing the right things CONSISTENTLY? Don’t leave it to chance — manage your schedule, and be sure you have set aside adequate time for accomplishing your MVP activities. Often, we let the trivial and unimportant eat up time we should be spending on the significant and important. It takes awareness and discipline to keep those unimportant time-eaters on the back burner so that we can accomplish those things that we’ve decided are truly worthwhile. The good news, however, is that the longer you perform a task, the more efficient you’ll become, and the less time it will absorb. Nevertheless, make the time you need to accomplish your MVP actions in a timely manner.
No matter what you want to change — from your understanding of the Internet to the size of your waist — it takes more than thinking, believing, and feeling that the change should be made. It takes doing. It takes doing the right things. It takes doing the right things consistently!