Five Steps to Make Change That Lasts

The process of change is largely the same, no matter whether you’re trying to transform a company or just streamline one process or a part of your own life.

To make successful change requires that you also change:

– Expectations

The “story” you tell yourself about what’s likely to happen in the future has a lot to do with the opportunities you can even see.

– Focus of attention

If you believe change is possible, you’ll look for small but steady signs of progress.

And if you don’t think change can really be made, you’ll notice signs or “evidence,” of that.

Either way, what you notice and give your attention to consistently is a powerful reinforcement for the direction you’re moving. That’s true whether the direction you’re moving is the direction you really want to go or not.

– Daily actions or habits

Making a change means changing day-to-day habits in some basic but essential way.

Perhaps the way you spend your time, money or energy needs to change in order to reach the goals to which you’re now committed.

Somehow, some way, habits will need to change.

– Some relationships may need to change, as well

You may need to spend more time with some people and less time with others in order to make the changes you want to make.

It all depends on how substantial the change is, and how supportive your current environment is for the “remodeling” you’re doing in your business, your work, yourself, or your life.

Here are five steps to make successful change:

1. Make a clear choice

Decide specifically what change you want to make.

That sounds simple and straightforward, but often, it isn’t.

Sometimes people – or companies – know what they don’t want, but they don’t really know what they DO want, instead.

Be clear about what your target is, or take the time to find out what it is.

Otherwise, you’re just randomly shooting arrows into the air.

Get a clear target.

2. Believe

To make change that lasts, you have to believe the change is really possible.

And if you don’t?

Work on that.

Start by reading about, talking to, and learning from people or companies who have made the changes you hope to make – or dream about.

3. Reinforce

In simple ways, reinforce your goal, again and again.

Find a picture, create a drawing or mural, or select a simple phrase or theme song (or “rallying cry”) that captures the essence of what you think success will be like as you move toward it, and when you get there.

Use that reminder often to remind you of your target.

This goal reinforcement sounds simple—simplistic, even—but it works.

4. Review

Monitor your movement toward the goal.

And measure the positive impact of progress, along the way.

You’ll see positive results long before you reach your final destination.

Notice and appreciate them. They matter, in a big, BIG way.

5. Adapt

Pay attention to how the change is playing out.

Often the plan for how you will create change will itself require some changes.

Some things you thought would be easy may turn out not to be so. Other things you thought would require great effort, energy and sacrifice? They may turn out to be simple, after all.

Just be ready to adapt your plans as you move ever closer to your target.' About Jan Richards

Principal of J. G. Richards Consulting, Jan helps companies improve profitability and revenue as they decrease business complexity and costs. This occurs in many ways, including: streamlining business operations; project management for major change and process improvement teams; coaching leaders of major change programs; creating long-range visions and strategic plans. A WIC Board member, Jan oversees WIC's strategic initiatives and mentoring programs.


  1. Great, concise tips…who DOESN’T need to make some adjustments in several areas of their lives! I’m just starting a weekly yoga practice and need to integrate other regular exercise, too…these tips will be VERY helpful as I make this a priority and regular routine. #1 down, #’s 4-5 to go!

  2. Thanks, Jen. I hope your yoga practice is going well (and it reminds me to get back to yoga again, myself)!

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