To say that "Changing is Difficult" can be quite an understatement. Sometimes it appears that changing one's learned or acquired behavior, habits or routines seems nearly impossible. From decades of my own experiences, serving in roles from student/teacher; employee/employer; customer/supplier; participant/coach; follower/leader; son/father; etc. I have witnessed first hand how difficult change can be for myself and others. Just when it appears some positive changes are occurring, the old habits seem to slip back into the picture like nature grows weeds on a beautiful lawn.
If we were to add up the dollars spent worldwide on attempting to change the behavior of individuals over a decade, I believe we could guesstimate the change industry generates a trillion dollars in revenue during that period. That's a lot of resources and energy spent, to initiate about a 5% success factor that is probably achieved. However if we didn't invest that trillion dollars, we would never move in a forward and positive direction as societies and cultures. Positive change is always necessary regardless of the cost.
In my opinion, there are only two reasons that change will take place and create a somewhat permanent restructuring in one's behavior. The first reason is that an individual believes they will absolutely without a doubt suffer severe consequences if they do not change their behavior. The second reason is that an individual is totally convinced that huge benefits will occur from their changed behavior, that will absolutely without a doubt, be worth the time and effort it will take to make the change. If you are thinking by now that I'm referring to the popular principles of PAIN and PLEASURE, you are absolutely right!
Over the years I've attended scores of seminars from 25 to 25,000 participants, all looking for the silver bullet to make a positive change. After the seminars, individuals buy tapes, books and DVD's produced by the author. They are excited that day, energized and ready for change. Then they return to the real world the next day and go back to their old routines and habits. In most cases, the tapes and books they purchased collect dust and are never listened to or read.
On a positive note I would like to share one of my stories. Eleven years ago, I attended one such seminar involving 1000 people. I purchased a set of tapes at the end of that presentation, which became the start of my library which now contains over 3500 such tapes and CD's, and hundreds of books. I left inspired like everyone else at that seminar, but must have been ready for the follow-through of action necessary to achieve the above. I believed in the PLEASURE principle described above, and know first hand that this theory really works. Those tapes and books enabled me to learn the skills necessary to design and shape my present lifestyle.
Through my interactions as an employer, administrator, teacher, father and coach, I have come to believe that the earlier you can initiate change in one's life the better. The chances of learning and developing positive skills and habits at an earlier age will increase the propensity to maintain the learned behavior incrementally. The earlier in one's career, one learns and develops positive skills and habits, the better. The earlier in one's marriage the couple learns and develops respect for each other the better. The earlier in one's relationship with their children they learn and respect each other the better. The earlier in one's business they learn about their employers or employees; customers or suppliers; and how to deal with each other effectively, the better. We can continue on, however by now we can see that there is a relationship between "early development" and "successful change." Once patterns of behavior are established and entrenched, it becomes extremely difficult to change them. However, it's always possible to do so.
The key ingredient in my opinion to initiate positive change is to have a detailed plan to accomplish it. You need to clearly define your goal. You need to describe in complete detail, the many benefits that will occur if you accomplish the change. You need to know the obstacles that will stand in your way. You need to describe the resources needed to help you accomplish your goal. You need to describe in detail the actions necessary to overcome the obstacles. And finally you need to keep score to stay motivated and on track. If all this sounds too complex to initiate change then you will understand why only 5% ever make it to the finish line.
To learn more about initiating change and setting goals read our POLLS ON GOAL SETTING right now. It's a great investment of your time.