How are you doing on your goal setting for 2018? Have you made a leadership resolution? Maybe you’re immune to change.

It doesn’t matter if your goal is to lose 5 or 50 pounds, quit smoking or drinking, or become a better listener…New Year’s resolutions and other goals are hard to keep beyond the first month.

In my last post, I recommended Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization, by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. The authors make a very clear case for a hard look at our competing commitments if we’re attempting to make changes.

This immunity means that we are drawn back into doing what we’re used to doing no matter how strong our intentions. And yet, some people do succeed. We all know ex-smokers and ex-drinkers.

You can’t fix an adaptive problem with a technical solution. A diet is a technical solution to being overweight: eat less and exercise more. But the problem is greater than that. Unless you change your mindset (an adaptive solution), you won’t sustain new habits.

Einstein said that how you formulate a problem is just as critical has how you solve it. One of the biggest mistakes goal-setters make is applying a technical solution to an adaptive problem (according to Ron Heifetz, leadership professor). It doesn’t matter how much you change what you do, if you don’t shift the way you think, you’ll revert to doing things the way you always have.

To better understand this, I made up a grid based on the one Kegan and Lahey recommend people fill out, in order to formulate adaptive solutions to making a big change:

This grid can be applied to any goal, to anything worth changing. I think the key is to recognize that there are some very good reasons for not always following through on what’s needed to change, and, until we admit that, we’re bound to fail. But once we own up to our competing commitments, we can say, “Well, yeah, I may think that’s true but it may not be entirely true. I owe it to myself to try make the changes now, and go against my previous thinking.”

What do you think? Have you tried unsuccessfully to change? Maybe your competing commitments got the best of you, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Think of the times you’ve succeeded. Why then? Why not now? I’d love the hear from you. You can call me at 561-582-6060; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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