I’ve made many New Year’s resolutions and life goals over the years. From the very lofty “this is the year I get in shape” or “this is the year I will find a publisher for my novel”, to the modest “eat less cookies” or “drink more water”.
And I have failed at many New Year’s resolutions and life goals over the years.
But… there have been a few times I succeeded!
It wasn’t because they were easy (“drink more water” has made my list for multiple years now thanks to multiple failures). And it wasn’t because I lacked motivation (I really, really, really want to publish my novel).
Success came when I shifted my attention from changing or achieving a thing to the processes or habits around it. By focusing on the process rather than just the finish line, I wrote a novel, met fitness goals, and achieved countless milestones with my company career.place.
The secret to resolutions or goals or initiatives or any other change is in the process.
Single vs. Systemic:
Consider the comically common goal “get in shape” (and all its variations).
It often fails somewhat like this:
You get a gym membership with the intention of going every day and after a week or two it slips into that perpetual “I’ll do it tomorrow”. Or you buy the fancy machine or new workout clothes or get a membership to a virtual class or training program… and life gets in the way, and you slip into that perpetual “I’ll do it tomorrow”.
But, what if instead of “getting in shape” the task was to modify your day to incorporate the habit of exercise (with gym, machine, workout program, run around the neighborhood, etc.). The resolution is small and consistent. 30 minutes, today right after work. And then again, and again.
And if the task doesn’t work well – after work there’s too much to do, or 30 minutes is too much time - modify the task to work better, then try again. One little task over and over until it becomes habit.
Soon, you feel better on the days with the exercise than without and you’re motivated not by the task but by the benefit of the task. And, before you know it, that “get in shape” goal transitions from lofty to reality.
Process: the lever to move DEI mountains
Now consider a common goal of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives such as “hire more diversely” (and all its variations).
It often fails somewhat like this:
You engage in awareness training and set goals for talent acquisition and/or hiring managers to increase diversity of the candidate slate and hires. You make a few hires outside the typical demographic mold of the team and organization. The daily pressures of the job and need to fill positions increase, the teams fall back on habits that have worked and the diversity of candidates and hires dwindles. And many of the initial hires that are outside the demographic mold end up leaving for one reason or another.
But, what if instead of “hire more diversely”, you concentrate on the first task for creating more systemic diversity, equity, and inclusion within the hiring program? For example, adding a process to build relationships with one new candidate source a month that allows you to tap into a more diverse candidate population. Or adding a process step to validate that job requirements are equitable and necessary. Then execute that one step again and again and again.
By concentrating on changing the habits – the process and outcomes improve. And then you can build another habit, then another and soon the goal of “hire more diversely” goes from being lofty to reality.
Bringing it all together
Lofty goals are great for setting a vision of where you’re going and why. Getting in shape, building a more diverse workforce, these are visions of a great future. However, without a way to achieve those goals, a way that is reasonable and repeatable, the goals are likely condemned to remain just that – goals.
Instead, focus on the process. Identify the first, reasonable, repeatable step that you can build into a habit. Give yourself (and the team) time to practice, learn, and modify the step so that it works for you. Commit to it again, and again, and again. Then, once it has become habitual, build the next one, and the next. And, before you know it, your goals become your reality.
You can do it, we can help.