How to Create Lasting Change

Only by identifying what is not working can you then make a decision about what needs to be changed.

By Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA

Here are my suggestions about how to make change last:

  1. Look at what you are doing now.
  2. Make a decision to change one thing.

An excellent way to improve your current situation is to initially accept things the way they are. When you know where you are, you then can make thoughtful adjustments.

Only by identifying what is not working can you then make a decision about what needs to be changed. Making a decision is critical. The power of deciding removes ambiguity. You design your life every time you make a decision, large and small. “Do I have whipped cream on my hot chocolate?” “Do I give myself an extra cushion of time so I am not late to that important meeting or do I make just one more quick stop?”

Give yourself time to work on the one change you’ve selected for a specific amount of time. If it is a small decision—perhaps drinking water instead of soda during meals (so you stay better hydrated and, therefore, can think more clearly)—maybe a week of concentrated effort is all you’ll need.

In fact, what I’ve learned is that if you focus on the new behavior every day, you can decide in about five days whether or not you should continue doing that behavior.

Practice does not make perfect. Instead, I have found that “Practice makes comfortable.” Not everyone is going to be able to do everything to perfection. But, everyone CAN practice until new behaviors feel “comfortable”… and at that point, change can be lasting.

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Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.